Dodson mourns ‘divided nation’ after Voice defeat in farewell speech
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The next generation must push forward on Indigenous reconciliation, Senator Patrick Dodson said in his final speech in parliament, as he mourned the defeat of the Voice referendum.
On Tuesday, Dodson announced his retirement from parliament after undergoing treatment for cancer.
Standing up in the Senate on Wednesday to give his valedictory remarks, Dodson said future proposals for reconciliation must be meaningful and beneficial for all.
Senator Pat Dodson thanked his family and well-wishers for their support during his illness.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen
“In the wake of the referendum, it seems to me that we must again find, with renewed purpose, common ground on what this might look like in the form it might take into the future,” he said.
“The 60-40 split in the referendum vote demonstrates to me that we are a divided nation. We need to heal through honest and open dialogue, without the rancour and discord that infected too much … in the communication chatter around the referendum.
“We need a national process to facilitate going forward in this area. This is an exercise I leave for the next generation, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth of this country, to pursue. Those with ambition, those with hope, those who love this nation and I leave it to them.”
Dodson took medical leave in the middle of the Voice campaign to receive treatment for his cancer and thanked his family for their support.
“I’m also very grateful to my partner Carol, who’s here, for her love, care and sacrifices in her ongoing support as I battled to get back more of my own physical independence,” he said.
“To all those who sent me get well and support messages during my treatment and challenges with this illness, I thank you for your best wishes. That has meant a great deal to me.”
Dodson did not say he chose January 26 as the day of his retirement from office because it is Australia Day.
“I chose that date because it’s three days before my 76th birthday which I’m looking forward to,” he said.
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