A failed referendum should not stop the government from moving forward with a treaty and truth-telling, independent senator Lidia Thorpe says.
More than half of Australians, and all six states, overwhelmingly rejected the proposal to enshrine an Indigenous Voice in the constitution.
Senator Thorpe, a face of the progressive No campaign, took to the radio on Sunday morning to celebrate the referendum’s defeat.
“I’ve been very clear from the start. This referendum should never have happened,” she told ABC Radio.
“The problem with the referendum is that it was just shoved down our throats so hard. We were told it’s going to be good for us. And if Australia doesn’t support us in that, Australia doesn’t love us?
“Well, I think that‘s a really wrong narrative to begin with. And that’s why people are hurting so much today.”
Senator Thorpe said the next steps forward needed to focus on treaty and truth-telling and called for the establishment of a Truth and Justice Commission.
“We’re in a war … we need to end that war. And the only way we can do that is through truth telling, healing, and ultimately a treaty, because that’s the only thing left for us. And that’s what will truly unite this nation,” she said.
It puts the independent senator back on the same page as the Greens who also called for the government to commit $250m towards a commission to support the healing process.
Senator Thorpe said the Prime Minister must sit down with members of the blak Sovereignty Movement as he considers his next steps.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart was signed in 2017 and called for Voice, Treaty and Truth.
The government on Sunday reaffirmed its commitment to the statement on Sunday but Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said he wanted to let the dust settle first.
“We have committed to implementing the Uluru Statement in full. That’s what we have taken to the Australian people and been our articulated position for a long time,” he told the ABC.
“Right now I think it is about standing with and embracing Indigenous Australia at this moment.”
The Coalition has pushed for a second referendum to be held to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution without enshrining the Voice.
But Mr Marles said that wouldn’t be the case under Labor.
“We were committed to putting this to the Australian people and we’ve done that. And that’s that. We gave it our best shot … But we’ve come up short,” he said.
“This was what we put forward and I think the Australian people have made their position very clear.”