Prime Minister Anthony Albanese received a warm welcome from Yes! campaigners today when he arrived at the Broken Hill Integrated Wellness Centre before taking a brisk walk down Chloride St to grab a coffee in town square, politely conversing with both Yes and No voters of the upcoming referendum on The Voice being held on Saturday October 14.
In his first visit to Broken Hill as Prime Minister, Mr Albanese seemed relaxed as he took time to engage with the community today, taking a seat in the shade at The Deli to chat with the Barrier Truth about his visit to the region.
“It’s an opportunity to meet the people of Broken Hill and as my first visit as Prime Minister, I’m determined to represent the whole country, so I’m here today particularly with the referendum going on, saying thank you to those people who are out there campaigning for a yes vote for constitutional recognition.
“Western NSW has a very big Indigenous population, and we saw during the pandemic what occurs at the beginning of the process – there were catastrophic predictions about the impact and it was only when people went and listened to Indigenous people locally that we actually got the health messages out there and got vaccination rates lifted up, so it’s just a real example of what having a voice can do and having a body that can be listened to.
“Let’s face it, we can’t do the same thing and expect different answers and that’s what the referendum is about.
“It’s been an extraordinarily warm welcome today that I wasn’t expecting. I’m very overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome but I find when you get out into the regions, people do tend to be welcoming.
“I think people appreciate the effort – let’s face it, we’re a big country – last Friday, I was in Wangaratta, Shepperton, Brisbane and Sydney on the same day and next we’re off to Port Lincon, and then up to Mutitjulu and then onto Uluru.
“Pat Farmer of Run for the Voice will be running in to Uluru very early on Wednesday morning. He’s run 14,000km around Australia – 80kms a day for months – and that’s the kind of commitment some people are making. He’s a former Liberal MP doing his part to support the Yes vote.
When we asked the MP whether he’s considering still holding the republic referendum that was being discussed this time last year, Mr Albanese said his focus would remain on this referendum.
“Our focus is just very much on this but also on the challenges of cleaning up the mess we inherited so we’ve turned a $78 billion deficit into a $22 billion surplus, and we’ve been busy with cost-of-living relief.
Addressing concerns on aged care and childcare, the PM outlined the government’s strategies to the Barrier Truth, “We’ve allocated $11 billion to increased wages to the aged care workforce so we’re busy implementing the recommendations to the Aged Care Royal Commission and cheaper childcare was introduced in September.
“We are addressing training more people in nursing and caring jobs. We’ve had 22,000 people this year – mainly women – many of them in the care sector, which is making a real difference.
“We’ve had an additional 20,000 places in universities, including nursing, and other sectors where we have staff issues, but one thing we had to do was stop people from leaving these sectors in the first place, which is why we increased wages.”
The Voice to Parliament referendum will be held this Saturday, October 14. Pre-polling is available in Broken Hill now at the Broken Hill Integrated Wellness Centre on Chloride Street.