A Voice to Parliament is a simple yet powerful constitutional commitment to consult First Nations Australians on issues that affect them.
These issues include housing, education and health which consistently show disproportionately poor outcomes for First Nations Australians.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart, a historic invitation issued by First Nations representatives to all Australians, recognised that enshrining a Voice in the constitution is a meaningful, substantial, and practical change.
By enshrining the Voice in the Constitution, we hope to see improvement in the lives of First Nations peoples.
Many concerns about the Voice are not based in facts. The Voice would not become a ‘third house’ of Parliament. It would not have the power to vote on or veto legislation, or to pass or reject bills. The Voice would not administer funding or deliver programs.
The Government announced that in March 2023 it will introduce legislation to Parliament setting out the referendum question. This legislation will be referred to a Parliamentary committee for review, and then be voted on by Parliament. The referendum must take place between 2 and 6 months after the legislation passes Parliament.
For a long time I have engaged with this issue. In the last Parliament, I was a member of Minister for Indigenous Australians Parliamentary Working Group, working with former Minister Ken Wyatt. Many people in Indi also participated in the consultation process steered by Professor Marcia Langton and Professor Tom Calma.
I now look forward to seeing the Government’s legislation on the referendum question due in March and will be closely watching the Parliamentary committee inquiry on this important legislation.I am committed to working with Indi communities on how we can achieve a successful referendum on this historic issue.