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Right for Indigenous Voice in Australian parliament hinges on vote: PM

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (C) attends an indigenous festival in the Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory on July 30, 2022.

The aborigines right for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament has been hinged by the Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on a referendum in this regard.

Albanese, who had vowed to support aborigine people in his election campaign, proposed Saturday that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice be established by adding three sentences to the constitution but after a referendum.

"The legislation of the structure of the voice won't happen before the referendum,"  Albanese said, but noted Canberra has yet to reach a final decision and set a date for the referendum.

The center-left Labor Party PM proposed that voters be asked, “Do you support an alteration to the Constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?”

The prime minister, who was addressing a festival in the Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, insisted the indigenous voice would not act as a third chamber in parliament. "This doesn't change in any way the primacy of our democratically elected parliament."

“What it seeks to do, though, is to break with what I call the tyranny of powerlessness that First Nations people have suffered from over 121 years of the Commonwealth making decisions in Canberra without having respect and without having consultation with First Nations people themselves,” he said, adding, “It’s very important that Constitutional recognition occur.”

Australia's indigenous people have toiled for generations to win recognition for injustices suffered since European colonization which has had a devastating impact on aboriginal communities and cultures in the country where the natives were subjected to mass killings, forced displacement, separation of families and separation from their traditional lands and beliefs relocated on missions and reserves in the name of family protection, integration and civilization.

Labor gained power in May after ending almost a decade of conservative Liberal-National coalition government.

During the general elections campaign in May, Labor had pledged to recognize an indigenous voice in parliament.

The ousted coalition, which is now in opposition, have called the PM’s proposed plan a "positive step".

However, they say if the referendum succeeds they need to know more about the legislation.

The constitution of Australia, which came into effect in January 1901, does not recognize the country's indigenous population.

If the steps go ahead and the aborigine is recognized in the constitution, it would bring Australia in line with Canada, New Zealand and the United States.

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However, experts doubt that it may succeed, saying making changes in the constitution requires the support of a majority of votes in a majority of states and the chances for this are slim, i.e., 1 out of 5.5, or 18 percent.

The ousted coalition government had wanted to establish indigenous representation in parliament through legislation. Now in opposition, they have called the plan a "positive step" but say more needs to be known about how the function would work.

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