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Indigenous ‘voice’ to Parliament ‘must come first’: Albanese

In a speech on Saturday, Mr Albanese will point to the progress on self-determination in New Zealand, Canada and the United States as evidence of the need to achieve the same in Australia.


“None of those places have achieved utopia but when you look at the gaps in everything from health to justice to education between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations there, they have left Australia behind,” he will say.

“And when you compare life expectancies, the bare, harsh, unavoidable truth is that they have left us for dead.

“We cannot go on like this. But we can go forward. It is clear to me that enshrining that voice in the constitution is what must come first.”

Some Liberal MPs have warned against enshrining the voice to Parliament in the constitution and called instead for the institution to be set up by legislation, fearing the scope of the change.

Indigenous leaders have argued the voice must be set out in the constitution so future governments could not scrap the idea once it was backed by the people, although it would be up to Parliament to legislate the way the voice would be put into effect.

Mr Albanese praises former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce for changing his mind and backing the constitutional change after first claiming it might create a “third chamber” of Parliament.

“To those who are apprehensive about changing the constitution, I say: give this a chance. Give this some room,” Mr Albanese says, according to a draft of his speech.

“And to my fellow politicians I add: let us come together so we can go to the public together – and together we will make the case.


“I will take the fight to the government on so many things – never have any doubt about that.

“But on this we must work together. We must be together. My hope we can have bipartisanship on this remains alive.”

Mr Wyatt arrived at Gulkala on Friday with a call for a “pragmatic” approach to the reform given the risk it might not gain a majority of votes in a majority of states in a referendum he wants to hold in this term of Parliament.

“Every constitutional referendum where the question has failed has been sent into permanent retirement,” he said.

“Not one of those questions has ever been resurrected.

When you compare life expectancies, the bare, harsh, unavoidable truth is that they have left us for dead.

Anthony Albanese

“That’s why if we go with a question on constitutional recognition we have to get it right – not for this generation, not for my generation, but for our children and those who come in the future.”

Mr Wyatt, the first Indigenous Australian to rise to federal cabinet, is attempting satisfy community leaders on the difficult change while assuring his own Liberal colleagues it would not undermine the authority of Parliament.

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