A bill that would trigger the referendum on whether to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament in the Constitution was yesterday introduced into the lower house. Source: ABC News.
The bill already has the support needed for it to pass the House and later the Senate.
Introducing the bill, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said it would rectify a fundamental wrong in the Constitution.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have occupied the Australian continent for over 60,000 years and represent the oldest continuous living cultures in human history,” he said.
“They have maintained a relationship with Australia’s land, waters and skies for time immemorial.
“Yet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are not recognised in our Constitution.”
Mr Dreyfus said that until the Constitution recognised First Nations people, Australia was a “nation missing its heart”.
He said that, on current projections, the gaps in health, education and other life outcomes between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians would not be closed for generations, and a new approach – to “listen” – must be taken.
The legislation will enable a referendum to be held for Australians to vote on whether to enshrine a proposed Voice to Parliament into the Constitution and formally recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who said he wasn’t in the chamber when it was introduced due to a prior commitment, said he still had questions about the Voice to Parliament proposal.
“I think there are a lot of questions that are still out there that reasonable Aussies have, and that they want answered,” Mr Dutton said.
The date of the referendum itself will be decided later by the Prime Minister, but it has already been flagged to be a Saturday sometime this year between October and December.
Bill to trigger Voice referendum introduced to parliament (By Jake Evans, ABC News)