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PM secures state and territory support on referendum

Leaders sign statement of intent on Indigenous Voice

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has secured the support of all state and territory leaders for the referendum on an Indigenous voice to parliament.

Premiers and chief ministers signed a statement of intent to work collaboratively and support a constitutionally enshrined voice.

“We recognise this significant opportunity to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the First Peoples of Australia in our constitution,” Friday’s statement said.

“We also acknowledge the enduring strength of First People leadership and knowledge through the establishment of a voice to the Australian parliament on matters affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

“All state and territory governments support the Australian government in ensuring Australians are afforded a free and fair referendum process.”

The leaders committed to considering steps to implement the voice if the referendum was successful, including assisting in the design and implementation at local levels.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Indigenous leaders from around the country will travel to Canberra when parliament resumes to push MPs on a constitutionally enshrined voice.

Leaders from Cape York, inner Sydney, Goulburn-Murray, and the Kimberley will seek to meet with members from all sides of politics next week to share their experiences from their local communities.

Chair of the Empowered Communities leaders group Ian Trust said the debate needed to be informed by local voices as the Liberals hold out on lending support.

“A voice will give Indigenous people a say in the matters that affect us, so we can work in partnership with governments and more effectively bring about the practical changes needed to close the gap,” Mr Trust said.

Cape York leader Fiona Jose said the voice could shift the dial on First Nations’ disadvantage in areas such as education, health care, employment and cultural protections.

“Our local and regional communities must be empowered to partner with government to action strong solutions,” she said.

“It’s a practical and enduring way for Australia to recognise its first peoples.”

Meanwhile, the federal opposition leader is accusing the government of deliberately withholding detail on its push to enshrine an Indigenous voice in the constitution for political reasons.

Peter Dutton and shadow attorney-general Julian Leeser were briefed by the referendum working group on Thursday after calling for more information on the proposed voice’s make-up and function.

Mr Dutton accused the prime minister of withholding details of the voice as a deliberate political strategy.

“Like all Australians, we want to see a better outcome for the Indigenous people of our country,” he told Nine’s Today program on Friday.

“We are willing to look at any measure to do that. There are lots of questions around the voice and lots of detail that hasn’t yet been provided.

“The pressure continues for him to put it out so people can make an informed decision. Some models will work, others can’t.”

The Albanese government has consistently said the referendum will only deal with two issues, the recognition of Indigenous people in the constitution and their right to be consulted on issues pertaining to them.

Mr Albanese wrote to Mr Dutton, saying the final model for the voice would then be decided by parliament if Australia agrees to the principle of enshrining the body in the constitution.

He reiterated that the voice would have no veto function over legislation.

– AAP

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