Proposed changes to the constitution to establish an Indigenous vote are simple enough for the public to understand what they are voting for, Anthony Albanese says.
The Prime Minister unveiled the proposed question for a historic referendum on the introduction of a Vote to parliament on Saturday at the Garma Festival in the northeast of Arnhem Land.
The question that might be asked to Australians is, “Do you support an amendment to the Constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vote?”
The details of the Voice, its function and operation will then be worked out in consultation, says Mr. Albanese.
“One of the things I try to avoid – as happened at the end of the last century when a referendum was unsuccessful – is that people are looking for all the details and say, well, if you don’t agree… with a out of 50 (clauses) but 49 are OK, vote no,” he told the ABCs Insiders program on Sunday.
“We don’t. We appeal to the goodwill of the Australian people.
“That’s why I’m optimistic that Australians will embrace this simple concept that wherever issues touch the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, they are consulted.”
Mr Albanian recommended adding three sentences to the constitution:
A body called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice; the Voice can raise objections on indigenous matters to parliament and the executive government; and Parliament has the power to legislate on the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Vote.
“This is not a third chamber of parliament… this makes it very clear that this in no way changes the primacy of our democratically elected parliament,” said Mr Albanese.
While future parliaments will then be able to change any legislation, their actions will be held accountable, Mr Albanese added.
“What enshrining in the Constitution does ensures that the Voice cannot be eliminated or silenced by a change of government or a change of prime minister,” he said.
Albanian said the government has not yet made a decision on the timing of the referendum, although Labor reportedly favored the vote next year.
Northern Territory MLA Yingiya “Mark” Guyula called on the government to implement all elements of the Uluru statement in addition to the Voice.
“Ideally, an amendment to the constitution should recognize all three elements of the statement,” he said.
“Voice, treaty and truth must be codified and protected.
“Before I die, I want to be part of a federal treaty process.”
Indigenous Australian minister Linda Burney went a little further than the Prime Minister, indicating that more details about the Voice’s composition would be released before the referendum.
“There will be a lot of information coming to the community about what people are voting for. It would be crazy if that didn’t happen,” she told the ABCs Q+Awhich airs Monday.
Opposition calls for ‘certainty’
Opposition spokesman Julian Leeser welcomed the Voice in principle, but called for more details.
“People need to be confident about what they’re voting for,” he told TBEN.
“Without those details, without the answers to the reasonable questions…it’s harder to dispel myths and uncertainties about what’s being presented.”
Uphold and Recognize chairman Sean Gordon estimates the yes campaign will cost $20 million as he prepares to consult with gay marriage and Republican advocates about raising funds and awareness.
“It has to be a clear, coordinated strategy and a way to move forward, otherwise we will not have the success,” he told a Garma Festival forum.