Reports today that Labor is walking away from our commitment to a Voice are nonsense.
We support the Voice. We support enshrining it in the Constitution. It is our first priority for Constitutional change.
When 250 First Nations Leaders convened at Uluru last year and called for a Voice to Parliament, Labor heard that call.
In government, we will work with First Nations to make it a reality.
The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People will deliver its report on Thursday. Labor is proud to have three Indigenous MPs on that committee. Nobody can doubt Labor’s commitment to Constitutional reform.
We acknowledge the work of the many First Nations groups, academics and legal experts who made submissions to the inquiry outlining their views on the best way forward.
It has been 10 years since the issue of Constitutional recognition was first raised. First Nations people have made clear that their preferred form of meaningful recognition is a Voice to Parliament. We cannot ignore those calls.
It is disappointing that the Coalition continues to peddle lies about what the role of a Voice would be.
A Voice would not be a third chamber of parliament. It would be a mechanism for First Nations people to have a greater say in the policy issues that impact on their lives.
We have nothing to fear from working with First Nations people to address the many complex issues that affect the first Australians.
Labor has made clear that we will work with the Government, but we will not wait for them.
If bi-partisanship cannot be reached, we will look to legislate a new body as a first step on the pathway to enshrining it in the Constitution.
We will move quickly following the election to agree on a process with First Nations people – including a clear pathway to a referendum. We will also work with them in establishing a Makarrata Commission for agreement-making and truth-telling.
This will be a genuine process of government and First Nations working together to achieve meaningful change.
We will examine options for ensuring local, regional and national representation so that First Nations communities have a genuine say.
The Coalition has consistently failed to properly engage with First Nations people on important policy issues – leading to a litany of policy failures in Indigenous Affairs.
Whether it is the disastrous Indigenous Advancement Strategy, Community Development Program or the Close the Gap Refresh, only by working with First Nations people can we fix the legacy of failed policies left by this government and achieve a more equal, more reconciled Australia.