Australia referendum: First Australian referendum question in 24 years revealed

Brisbane, Australia

Australians learned the question they will be asked later this year in the country’s first referendum in 24 years, a vote deemed so important that the prime minister paused to collect his thoughts on Thursday when he announced the details.

on the appointed date, Australians the question will be asked whether the country’s indigenous peoples, who make up 3.2% of the population, should be recognized in the Constitution.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the issue during a press conference: “Proposed legislation to amend the constitution to recognize Australia’s First Nations by granting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voting rights. Do you approve of this proposed change?”

“This is a question for the Australian people, nothing more, nothing less,” he said. emotional Albanese, who paused for a few seconds in the middle of a sentence, thanking the indigenous leaders for their patience.

“This moment has been in the making for a very long time, but they have shown such patience and optimism in the process. And this spirit of cooperation and thoughtful, respectful dialogue was so important in order to come to this moment in such a unified way,” he said.

A yes vote would result in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recognition in the Constitution and the creation of an Indigenous body to advise the Federal Parliament on policies and projects relating to Indigenous peoples.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney called Thursday’s announcement of the wording “a truly historic day.”

“Today we are taking a big step forward on the long road to constitutional recognition through the vote,” said Burney, a member of the Wiradjuri Nation. “We think it’s so fair. We believe that this will appeal to the justice of the Australians. And we believe that history is on our side.”

The wording of the question will be submitted to Parliament next week and a parliamentary committee will be formed to consider submissions ahead of a parliamentary vote in June.

The voting itself is scheduled for the period from October to December this year.

The government says it is the country’s best chance to right the wrongs of the past, made after the colonization of the land, with little regard for the views or well-being of its native inhabitants.

More than 200 years later, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still suffer much lower health, mortality and economic conditions than non-Indigenous Australians. according to government statistics.

Successive administrations have tried to “close the gap”, but the number of incarcerated natives remains consistently high, and advocates argue that racist attitudes are ingrained in society, adding another barrier to progress.

However, despite strong government pressure to “yes”, the result is not guaranteed.

The main opposition Liberal Party, which dropped out of office last May, has yet to announce whether it will support a vote in favor of Voice to Parliament.

Liberal leader Peter Dutton says he wants to see more details on how this will work, a request that some see as perfectly reasonable and others as a spoiler tactic to sow doubt.

The National Party, which traditionally represents rural voters, has already ruled out support for Golos, calling it “another layer of bureaucratic red tape” that will not advance the interests of indigenous peoples.

Some indigenous groups say this is not enough – they want Australia to first renounce its status as the only Commonwealth country that has not signed a treaty with its indigenous population.

The Pact to Vote protest took place on January 26, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia.

The idea for Voice in Parliament came about through consultations with hundreds of different indigenous groups who expressed their wishes in Uluru Statement from the bottom of my heart.

To pass, the referendum must receive a majority of votes nationwide and a majority of votes in most states. Only eight out of 44 referendums have ever been approved in Australia.

The last was held in 1999 when Australians voted against calls for a republic.

Albanese said the wording for this year’s vote was developed over months of consultation with indigenous groups and lawyers.

“This form of words is legally sound and we are all confident that this is the form of words that will have the strongest support of the people of Australia in the referendum and bring the best possible results in the coming years,” he said. . . .