Former Liberal foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop has thrown her weight behind the Indigenous Voice to parliament, saying a No result would send a “very negative message” to the world about Australia.

Ms Bishop, who is now the chancellor of Australian National University, said she believed the Voice was an opportunity to “get things right” for Indigenous Australians.

“We’ve done a great deal of research and analysis on the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the Yes campaign, the referendum, and we believe that this is an opportunity to get things right,” she told a Yes campaign event in Perth on Monday.

When asked what a No result would mean for Australia’s international reputation, Ms Bishop said she was “most concerned at the message” it would send the world.

“It’s not a front-of-mind issue for most people, but I know that Australia’s international reputation can be affected by a No vote,” she said.

“I have no doubt that it would be sending a very negative message about the openness, and the empathy, and the respect and responsibility that the Australian people have for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.”

The Voice referendum, like any Australian referendum, requires both a national majority and a majority in at least four of the six states in order to pass.

Reports suggest the Yes campaign fears support for the Voice is slipping in WA, which could make it difficult for the campaign to secure a winning majority. Anthony Albanese and other Voice supporters kicked off a media blitz in the state on Monday that included Ms Bishop’s appearance.

In a radio interview, the Prime Minister described the Voice as “just an advisory group so that people can listen to what Indigenous people have to say about programs that affect their lives.”

“That is all this is about, so as to get better results,” he said.

“The constitutional change is really straightforward, recognition, listening through a voice in order to get better results. It won’t change the way that parliament functions, it won’t have a right of veto.”

Mr Albanese will announce the date of the referendum at a campaign event in Adelaide on Wednesday. It is widely expected to be held on October 14.

Mr Albanese and opposition leader Peter Dutton went to battle on Monday, each criticising the other’s approach to the campaign.

Mr Dutton, speaking from Queensland, accused Mr Albanese of “trying to deceive” the public.

“I think people in WA are starting to get a real suspicion about this prime minister. They talk a lot, but they don’t do much, and when you look at what the Prime Minister’s doing in relation to the Voice at the moment, he’s trying to deceive Australians,” Mr Dutton said.

Mr Dutton said he expected “a tight vote” nationwide and was critical of the Yes campaign’s advertising strategy.

“People will be bombarded with ads. People will be bullied into voting Yes,” he claimed.

Mr Albanese hit back, saying the No campaign was “undermined” by Mr Dutton’s support for a legislated Voice. The Liberal Party’s position is to support a set of local and regional voices which would be set up through legislation.

“The only difference is that we don’t think it should be able to be abolished with the stroke of a pen. Its composition and its procedures are very clearly up to the parliament,” Mr Albanese said.

“So, in spite of all the noise here, there is not a big gap between the positions. What there’s a gap between is what some in the No campaign say this is about,” he added.

Mr Albanese compared the referendum to the marriage equality postal vote, which passed successfully in late 2017 after months of heated debate.

“It’s no different from, prior to marriage equality people were told that heterosexual marriages would be under threat and that it would change a whole lot of the way that things worked,” he said.

“Guess what? We now have marriage equality. The fear campaigns have not been realised, just as the fear campaigns on the apology, the stolen generations, have also not been realised. This is all upside, no downside.”


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By Rahul

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