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Australia To Hold Historic Voting On Indigenous Constitutional Amendment

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Australia’s prime minister has revealed key information about a plebiscite that could result in the country’s first constitutional change in nearly 50 years.

If passed, a vote later this year would create an official organization called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, which would allow Indigenous people to offer their opinions on legislation.

It would be a “very simple” but “momentous” shift, according to PM Anthony Albanese. Only eight of 44 constitutional referendums have been successful, making them reasonably infrequent.

Voice to Parliament

The Uluru Statement from the Heart, a historic document from 2017, endorsed The Voice.

On Thursday, Albanese revealed the suggested phrasing for the question that Australians will be required to vote on. Speaking at the occasion, Albanese said, “A proposed law to alter the constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?”

He became emotional during the speech in which he said that the organization would cherish “recognition”  that Australians “share this great island continent with the world’s oldest continuous culture. Our nation’s birth certificate should recognise this and be proud of it.” 

Standing Beside the PM, Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney talked of how she had spent the initial 10 years of her existence “not being counted”.

The proposal, which is still up for discussion in the legislature, says that the Voice will “make representations” to lawmakers and decision-makers “on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Despite concerns voiced by a few of conservative critics, Albanese and the government heeded the strong recommendation of its internal working group of Indigenous leaders to retain the voice’s authority to advise executive government, including the cabinet and the public service, after two days of negotiations in Canberra.

The proposed law will be presented to the legislature on the coming Thursday and referred to a committee for review. The administration won’t change its mind about holding a referendum in the last three months of the year, according to Albanese.

Issues of Aboriginals

Parliament, however, would have the authority to determine the Voice’s make-up, responsibilities, authority, and practices. The Uluru Statement claims that Indigenous Australians experience “powerlessness” when attempting to address structural issues in order to better their lives.

A few of these issues are having a lower life expectancy than non-Indigenous Australians, having disproportionately worse health and educational results, and having higher incarceration rates. Many contend that failing to properly consult Indigenous people on solutions is frequently to blame for this.

“Non-Indigenous people [are] making decisions about communities they have never visited and people they do not know,” wrote Prof Megan Davis, an Uluru Statement signatory.

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