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Voice to parliament referendum legislation bill passes through Australia's lower house

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (R) criticizes the Liberal leader Peter Dutton (L) over his contributions to the debate on the Indigenous voice to parliament. (Photo by Reuters)

The Australian lower house has voted in favor of a government's constitutional amendment bill to create an indigenous voice in parliament.

Australia's House of Representatives, or the lower house of the Australian Parliament, on Wednesday passed legislation to hold a referendum on the Indigenous Voice with 121 votes in favor and 25 against.

It means Australians are now one step closer to voting on creating an Indigenous Voice in parliament in the country's first referendum since 1999.

The bill will now be sent to the Senate, where it is expected to be considered in June, by the government before a poll date is set later this year.

The referendum could take place between the months of October and December If the Senate also approves the bill.

If successful, the referendum would change the constitution to recognize Australia's First Peoples by creating an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, also known as the Indigenous Voice or the Voice, as a body that advises the government and parliament on issues relating to Indigenous Australians.

In a tweet after the vote, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said, "Our Constitutional Alteration Bill has just passed the House of Representatives. We're one step closer to recognizing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our Constitution."

The vote in parliament coincided with more than 100 Australian cultural and immigrant organizations joining to declare their support for the Voice.

Community organizations released a joint resolution calling on all Australians to work together to ensure a successful referendum on the proposal.

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