Canberra, Aug 30 (IANS) Australians will vote in a historic referendum on October 14 to decide whether to enact an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Wednesday.
Announcing the poll date at a rally in Adelaide, Prime Minister Albanese called the vote “a once-in-a-generation chance to bring our country together and to change it for the better”, the BBC reported.
“The Voice will be… a committee of Indigenous Australians, chosen by Indigenous Australians, giving advice to government so that we can get a better result for Indigenous Australians,” he said.
“You’re being asked to vote for an idea, to say yes to an idea whose time has come – to say yes to an invitation that comes directly from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves.”
The issue has been a fierce topic of debate for years as country has not had a successful referendum in almost 50 years.
If approved, the vote would recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the country’s constitution, and establish a permanent body for them to give advice on laws.
For it to succeed, a majority of Australians need to vote yes.
There also needs to be majority support in at least four of Australia’s six states, the BBC reported.
The composition, functions and powers of the body, whose advice would not be binding, would then be designed and debated by Parliament.
Australia is the only Commonwealth country that has never signed a treaty with its Indigenous people.
The Voice was recommended by a historic document in 2017 called the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Drafted by more than 250 Indigenous leaders, the statement is considered the best, though not unanimous, call to action for reforms which affect First Nations Australians.