The National Basketball League has thrown its weight behind the Voice to parliament, with the commissioner saying sports and politics can’t be unlinked.
Jeremy Loeliger, who was at Parliament House on Tuesday to launch this year’s Indigenous Round, told NCA NewsWire that following consultation with the playing group the league would be supporting the campaign to enshrine an Indigenous voice in the constitution.
“We’ve had no resistance whatsoever from any of our players,” he said.
“I think politics and sport are almost unable to be distinguished from one another because of the fact that sport has such a massive public profile here in Australia.”
“Our opinion doesn’t necessarily carry more weight than anybody else’s opinion. But for some reason, people in the public are interested in our opinion. And that’s all it is.
“People don’t have to listen to us.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese welcomed the NBL’s support ahead of the referendum, expected to be put to Australians in the next financial year.
“I guarantee there are tens of thousands of people who will be voting in that referendum, who will spend more time watching the NBL next year than they do watching question time,” he said.
“So your engagement, your advocacy, your leadership on this question will carry a lot of weight around this nation.”
The Voice was the first key policy of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and was adopted as an election commitment from Labor.
“We’ll nail it, and the country will cheer as if it was a three pointer taken in the last second of the game, when we were two points behind,” he told the crowd of NBL players, officials and parliamentarians.
Mr Albanese’s comments come just a day after the Nationals announced it would oppose the referendum, dashed hopes of bipartisan support.
Northern Territory Country Liberal Party senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, a Warlpiri Celtic woman on Monday claimed the Uluru Statement was not consultative and was, actually, racist.
Speaking outside of the event, the Opposition legal affairs spokesman Julian Leeser declined to back in the comments from Senator Price.
“It’s not my job to make a running commentary on things that other colleagues say. That’s just not my job,” he said.
Mr Leeser, who is personally a “long time supporter” of the Uluru Statement, also refused to say if he thought the Nationals had jumped the gun on its announcement.
The Liberal party is not likely to come to a position on the referendum until next year, noting it wanted further details from the government before making a decision.
Mr Leeser, who is personally a “long time supporter” of the Uluru statement from the heart, said his party was still waiting for the government to provide more detail.