Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney says there will be wide consultation with indigenous leaders and engagement with the wider Australian community as the Labor government seeks to enshrine a voice in parliament in the constitution.
Burney, speaking at the Garma festival in Arnhem Land, also said Labor had a “five-year plan in the works”, as he sought to clear up doubts and confusion about the government’s approach.
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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who on Saturday revealed the possible wording of a simple yes-or-no referendum question on the voice, told ABC Insiders on Sunday that he wanted to avoid the “dead end” of getting caught up in the early details. in the process.
Albanese said such details risk derailing momentum and “are not a recipe for success.”
“Are we faced with the challenge of waiting until everyone agrees on each item?” Albanese told ABC’s Insiders, broadcasting from the Garma festival on Sunday.
“But I am faced with the question, as prime minister of this country…if not now, when?”
Burney assured those seeking details that there would be consultation rounds.
“We will consult, we will talk to people and we will answer the things that people are concerned about,” he said.
“But I can assure you that the way we are going to move is with care, in collaboration and by bringing people with us. That’s what’s important.
She said that “the immediate next step is to consult with Aboriginal leaders, to consult the whole party but more importantly to engage with the Australian community.”
“Our work is about talking to people, listening to people, listening to different ideas and merging those ideas, and looking at the work that has already been done – more than 10 years of expert work.”
Albanese made it clear that he preferred parliament to debate how a voice would look and operate, after the question was put to the Australian people, a question he hoped would appeal to the nation’s “common decency”.
He also said that there was no way forward without the risk of failure, but he was confident that it would work.
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“There is a risk here,” he said. “There is a risk of not moving forward… [or] the risk is that you recognize the lack of success by not having the question. We’ll have to… have a referendum. We will have a debate in parliament. Part of that will be about what a voice will look like.”
Questions have been raised about this approach, with some asking to see more details about representation, voting, and governance. These issues came to the fore during a forum at the Garma festival on Sunday.
Sean Gordon, president of Uphold and Recognize, an organization that promotes a conservative approach to indigenous constitutional recognition, said that Aboriginal communities, having convinced the government to move forward with recognition, must “move to the next phase” to organize a successful yes campaign. He said this would include setting up a fundraising structure to accept donations for the campaign, which would need at least $20 million.
Gordon said lessons needed to be learned from the failed Republican referendum campaign and also from the successful same-sex marriage plebiscite.
“If we don’t do that, we’ll be dead in the water,” he said, noting that the same-sex marriage campaign involved different groups working together.
Burney said in a recording of the Monday night question-and-answer show, filmed at the Garma site on Saturday night, that the indigenous voice would be chosen.
While he did not elaborate on that statement, he said Labor had a plan “five years in the making” in response to the Uluru statement.
“This is not a time on the road to Damascus,” he said.
“The important thing is this: it is not wise to rush into this. It’s important to make sure this is not the domain of politicians, this is a referendum for the Australian people.”