Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has released the question Australians will be asked at a referendum later this year on whether they support an indigenous voice to parliament and executive government.
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?”
“This is a simple question – a matter from the heart,” Mr. Albanese said.
Australian Associated Press reports the question is virtually identical to the draft outlined by Mr. Albanese 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.
The release of the details followed Labor and the coalition striking a deal to pass a bill on Wednesday night (March 22) to set up the rules around information and the conduct of the referendum.
While the Nationals oppose the voice, the Liberal party room has yet to settle a position or declare whether members will have a conscience vote.
Mr. Albanese said constitutional reform should be above party politics.
As part of the agreement struck between the government and opposition on how the referendum will be run, neither campaign will be publicly funded.
Taxpayers will only pick up the bill for a neutral education campaign to inform voters about the voice and the referendum with donations made to both campaigns being tax deductible.
The referendum is due to be held between October and December.
With Australian Associated Press