Prime minister Anthony Albanese on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament as referendum is considered

Anthony Albanese desperate to avoid mistakes of the past as he unveils a ‘simple’ vote that all Australians will be asked to take part in

  • Anthony Albanese wants Australians to vote on Indigenous Voice to Parliament
  • Representatives would advise top levels of government on Indigenous matters
  • He will hold a referendum about whether to alter Constitution to include this

Anthony Albanese has revealed the proposed question he will put to Australians for a historic referendum on the introduction of an Indigenous Voice to parliament.

The question that could be put to Australians is: ‘Do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?’

The details of the Voice, its function and how it operates will then be worked out following consultation, Mr Albanese said this weekend at the Garma Festival in northeast Arnhem Land.

Mr Albanese said he didn’t want Australians to get bogged down in the fine print of the amendment. 

‘One of the things I’m trying to avoid – as occurred at the end of the last century when a referendum wasn’t successful – is people looking for all of the detail and saying well, if you disagree …with one out of the 50 (clauses) but 49 are OK, vote no,’ he told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

Anthony Albanese said this weekend the question posed in a referendum would need to be simple (pictured)


Should the Australian Constitution be amended to include an Indigenous Voice to Parliament?

‘We’re not doing that. We’re appealing to the goodwill of the Australian people.

‘That’s why I am optimistic that Australians will embrace this simple concept that where issues affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, they’re consulted.’

Mr Albanese recommended adding three sentences to the constitution: A body to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice; the Voice may make representations to parliament and the executive government on Indigenous matters; and the parliament shall have the power to make laws on the Voice’s composition, functions, powers and procedures.

‘This isn’t a third chamber of the parliament … this makes it very clear this doesn’t change in any way the primacy of our democratically elected parliament,’ he said.

While future parliaments will then be able to amend any legislation, their actions will be held accountable, Mr Albanese added.

‘The thing that enshrining in the constitution does, it ensures the Voice cannot be eliminated or silenced by a change of government or a change of prime minister,’ he said.

The Indigenous Voice would compose First Nations representatives who would advise top levels of government

The Indigenous Voice would compose First Nations representatives who would advise top levels of government 

Mr Albanese said the government hadn’t made a decision on the timing of the referendum, although Labor reportedly favours the vote taking place next year.

Northern Territory MLA Yingiya ‘Mark’ Guyula called on the government to implement all elements of the Uluru Statement alongside the Voice.

‘Ideally, an amendment to the Constitution should recognise all three elements of the statement,’ he said.

‘Voice, Treaty, and Truth should be enshrined and protected together.

‘Before I die I want to be part of a federal Treaty process.’

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney went slightly further than the prime minister, indicating more details about the Voice’s make up would be released before the referendum.

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney said more detail on the question would be released (pictured)

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney said more detail on the question would be released (pictured)

‘There will be a lot of information out to the community about what people are voting on. It would be nuts for that not to happen,’ she told the ABC’s Q+A program, scheduled to air on Monday.

Opposition Indigenous affairs spokesman Julian Leeser welcomed the Voice in principle but called for more detail.

‘People need to have some certainty about what they’re voting for,’ he told the ABC.

‘Without those details, without the answers to the reasonable questions … it’s harder to dispel myths and uncertainties about what’s being proposed.’

Uphold and Recognise chair Sean Gordon estimates the yes campaign will cost $20 million as he prepares to consult with same-sex marriage and republican advocates about raising funds and awareness.

‘It needs to be a clear, co-ordinated strategy and a way forward otherwise we won’t have the success,’ he told a Garma Festival forum.