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PM’s clarion call over Voice referendum

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he believed Australians would wake up on the morning of the Indigenous Voice to parliament referendum with “the strongest sense of ourselves”, as he delivered the Lowitja O’Donoghue Oration in Adelaide.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese delivers the Lowitja O’Donoghue Oration in Adelaide. Photo: AAP/Matt Turner

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese delivers the Lowitja O’Donoghue Oration in Adelaide. Photo: AAP/Matt Turner

“A great nation that has dared to become even greater, not just to ourselves but to the world,” he said on Monday night.

Tis speech came ahead of federal parliament’s return, when MPs will continue debate on the proposed wording to alter the constitution.

The legislation is expected to be voted on in the lower house this week, before it heads to the Senate.

Once it passes both houses of parliament, the wheels will be set in motion for a referendum to be held between October and November this year.

Albanese said after a successful referendum, treaty and truth-telling would be part of the nation’s next phase of reconciliation with Indigenous people.

“One of the things that a voice to parliament will be able to do is talk about the need for agreement making and coming together after a conflict, and part of that is truth- telling about our history,” he said.

The prime minister used his speech to call out the “fog of fiction and misunderstanding” that had been peddled about the voice in the past few months.

“This hasn’t been rushed into, there have been no shortcuts, nor is this something … which began in Canberra,” he said.

“The reverse is the case. This has been a grassroots movement, the culmination of years of discussion, consultation and patient hard work by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves.”

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But Indigenous leader and prominent ‘no’ advocate Warren Mundine said there was not enough information on the voice.

“When I talk to people on the ground and listen to people talking … I say the biggest majority of people are not ‘yes’ and ‘no’ people,” he said.

“They are people who haven’t even heard of the voice and other people have heard of it but don’t know what it is yet.”

For the overwhelming majority of Australians, the prime minister said the voice would not make any difference to their practical, day-to-day lives.

But he said it would lift up some of the most disadvantaged Australians, and in turn lift the nation.

“We get chances for change at regular intervals, a federal election every three years (and) a state or territory election every four. But this referendum is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said.

“None of us has anything to lose. But we have something wonderful and so very real to gain.

“In the end, it will lift all of us.”

-with AAP

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