THE Nationals have been condemned for deliberately misrepresenting the Voice to Parliament, with prominent Indigenous lawyer and activist Noel Pearson labelling the party's leader a "kindergarten kid".
On Monday, the party declared it would oppose the referendum to establish the advisory body, claiming the proposal lacked detail, added another layer of bureaucracy and would do nothing to close the gap.
Nationals Senator and Warlpiri-Celtic woman Jacinta Nampijinpa Price incorrectly claimed Indigenous Australians would be governed under a separate entity if the referendum was successful.
The Voice would act as an advisory body, providing insights from a cross-section of First Nations Australians without overriding federal or state powers. By being enshrined in the constitution, the body would be protected regardless of the ebbs and flows of government.
Although unable to dismantle the body, the parliament would be able to tweak and improve it without the need of another referendum.
Mr Pearson said he was surprised the Nationals would stand against the voice.
"I've spoken to almost every Nationals senators and MPs over recent years, and of all the political parties, the Nationals were the most supportive of the idea of the voice," he said.
"This leader, supposed leader Littleproud, a man of little pride, he's like a kindergarten kid, not a leader. The Nationals have hoisted the mantle of leadership on a boy who's incapable of leadership that's necessary for the country."
The prominent Indigenous rights activists said the Nationals were spreading misinformation about the Voice, which would provide non-binding advice to parliament on matters that affect First Nations people.
"We've gone through a long history of this over a dozen years, and we've landed with the simple idea of a voice, the simple proposition that Aboriginal people should be able to tell the parliament their views on any laws that affect them," Mr Pearson said.
Despite Labor yet to announce the model of the Voice to Parliament, Mr Littleproud said the body would do little to close the gap. However when pressed by journalists about what alternatives the Nationals had to close the gap, Mr Littleproud was unable to offer new policies.
The Nationals leader was also criticised for claiming the Voice wouldn't represent rural and remote First Nations people, despite the parliament yet to decide on the model for the advisory body, and incorrectly stating Australia would need to hold further referendums to make changes to the Voice.
Little progress has been made on the Close the Gap goals over the past decade, and Supporters of the Voice say policies designed to help Indigenous Australians are often ineffective or even harmful because they are enforced without consultation with First Nations people.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said an education campaign would begin soon and it was disappointing the Nationals had decided to oppose the referendum before seeing all the details.
"This is a step that takes Australia forward for everyone and sadly, there are some in our country who oppose the voice and they're holding this country back," Mr Dreyfus said.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's commitment to establishing the Voice as part of his support for the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart in full, which was created over a six-month period following consultations with 1200 First Nation representatives.
The referendum is due to take place during the 2023/24 financial year, although a date has not been set.