PM reveals Indigenous Voice referendum question

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has revealed the wording of the referendum on support for an Indigenous Voice to parliament which Australians will vote on later this year.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will deliver the annual Lowitja O'Donoghue Oration in Adelaide in May. Photo: AAP/Lukas Coch

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will deliver the annual Lowitja O'Donoghue Oration in Adelaide in May. Photo: AAP/Lukas Coch

Voters will be asked: “A proposed law: to alter the constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?”

The question is virtually identical to the draft outlined by the prime minister last July at the Garma Festival in Arnhem Land.

The constitutional change will involve adding three sentences: “There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;

“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to parliament and the executive government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;

“The parliament shall, subject to this constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.”

The proposed introductory words of the constitution will be: “In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia”.

Choking back tears, the prime minister said not putting the question to the people later this year would be conceding defeat.

“Every Australia wants us to close the gap and today points the way to how. By enshrining a voice in our constitution and by listening to that voice,” he said.

“All of us can own an equal share of what I believe will be an inspiring and unifying Australian moment.

“I say to Australia, don’t miss it.”

Referendum working group member Thomas Mayo said Indigenous Australians must remain hopeful.

“They should be our hope for the future. It has given Indigenous people who have been ignored and treated poorly for far too long a voice so that we may improve our lives,” he said.

“It is profound because it includes over 60,000 years of continuous heritage and culture in our constitution – a recognition from the moment we say, ‘yes’.”

An emotional Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney said it was an historic day.

“Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the constitution will be a simple but powerful act,” she said.

InDaily in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

“It will move Australia forward for everyone. It will give all Australians the chance to come together to recognise and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and story.”

The government’s proposed model will have representatives from all states and territories as well as the Torres Strait and specific remote areas.

It will have a gender balance and include youth members.

Those on the voice will be appointed by communities, not the government, and serve specific terms.

It will be able to make proactive representations as well as respond to specific requests.

Albanese says the body will be transparent and accountable.

But the parliament will ultimately decide on the model.

Laws setting out the question and constitutional change will go to parliament on March 30.

The details followed the coalition and Labor striking a deal to pass a bill on Wednesday night to set up the rules around information and the conduct of the referendum.

Neither campaign will be publicly funded, with taxpayers only picking up the bill for a neutral education campaign to inform voters about the voice and the referendum.

But donations made to both campaigns will be tax deductible.

The mobile polling period for remote communities has been extended to 19 days and a greater number of identification methods will be accepted to enrol or update enrolment.

The referendum is due to be held between October and December.

-with AAP

Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InDaily.
All rights reserved.