Prime minister Anthony Albanese has said the Indigenous Voice to Parliament will be an “unflinching source of advice and accountability” as he revealed a referendum question for the incorporation of a Voice into the Australian Constitution over the weekend.
Albanese revealed the initial wording during an address to the Garma Festival, which was attended by political figures from both sides of the aisle.
He said that the goal would be to add three sentences to the Constitution that would stipulate the requirement for a Voice to Parliament, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, and that the Voice would be able to make representations to the parliament and executive government on matters impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
A third line would be added that would empower the parliament to make laws that create a structure through which the consultation with the parliament and government would take place.
These draft provisions can be seen as the next step in the discussion about constitutional change, Albanese said.
He also unveiled what he said were proposed words for a referendum question to be put to Australians.
“We should consider asking our fellow Australians something as simple, but something as clear, as this: ‘Do you support an alteration to the Constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?’ A straightforward proposition. A simple principle. A question from the heart,” Albanese said.
“I ask all Australians of goodwill to engage on this [sic]. Respectfully, purposefully, we are seeking to secure support for the question and the associated provisions in time for a successful referendum — in this term of parliament.”
Albanese said he hoped that the campaign to change the Constitution would be bipartisan in the same manner as the 1967 referendum that resulted in the census counting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as a part of the population.
That referendum also permitted the parliament to make laws for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
“Back in 1967, not a single member of the house of the representatives or the senate voted against the referendum provisions,” Albanese said.
“In the same spirit — I hope that the Opposition and the crossbench will support the proposal, join the campaign for a Yes vote and bring their supporters to the cause.”