Australia

PM to outline proposed referendum question on Indigenous Voice to Parliament

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will recommend changes to the constitution as Australia takes historic steps towards an Indigenous Voice to parliament.
Mr Albanese will tell Indigenous leaders, campaigners and advocates gathered at the Garma Festival in northeast Arnhem Land what many have waited decades to hear: the nation is ready for reform.

His recommendations ahead of a referendum include adding three sentences to the constitution to establish the voice, as a starting point for discussion.

“This may not be the final form of words, but I think it’s how we can get to a final form of words,” he will say during a speech at the festival on Saturday.
The referendum question put to Australians could be as simple as: do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?
“A straightforward proposition,” Mr Albanese will say.
“A simple principle. A question from the heart.”
Mr Albanese will also repeat calls for bipartisan support and urge Australians to engage on the issue.

“Enshrining a Voice will be a national achievement. It will be above politics.”

The four-day Garma Festival is a celebration of the Yolngu people’s cultural and ceremonial traditions, drawing about 2000 guests. Source: AAP / Aaron Bunch

It comes a day after Mr Albanese was given a hero’s welcome when he arrived at the festival at Gulkula, a significant ceremonial site overlooking the ocean from deep within a stringybark forest.

He was escorted into the celebration by traditional owners after a men’s gathering out of sight, where the prime minister’s forehead was painted yellow.
Dozens of Yolngu dancers then performed for the crowd before Yothu Yindi Foundation chair Galarrwuy Yunupingu presented Mr Albanese with a traditional didgeridoo.
The four-day gathering is a celebration of the Yolngu people’s cultural and ceremonial traditions, drawing about 2000 guests.

It also provides a platform for the government, corporate and non-profit sectors to engage with Indigenous people.

More than a thousand people have already arrived at the massive tent-covered site on the Gove Peninsula, where an outdoor cinema, cafe, library and music venue have been erected.
Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus are also at the gathering, along with Senator Patrick Dodson, the Special Envoy for Reconciliation and the Implementation of the Uluru Statement, and US ambassador Caroline Kennedy.
Ms Kennedy told the gathering the US was very interested in the building momentum for an Indigenous Voice to be enshrined in the constitution.
“I have learned so much. Thank you for your hospitality and your inspiration,” she said in a short speech before presenting Mr Yunupingu with a book written by her father, former US president John F Kennedy.
Actor and festival ambassador Jack Thompson told the crowd the welcome-back ceremony was also “to remind us that there are serious things to discuss and important days ahead of us”.

After the ceremony, dozens of Yolngu dancers escorted Mr Albanese and the other leaders to the Bungul or ceremony site in an energetic and colourful display of their culture, where the celebrations continued as the sun set.

File source

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