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Indigenous voice process 'won't be rushed' says Burney


Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney has stressed the process to enshrine an Indigenous Voice in the constitution would not be rushed.

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As the prime minister revealed on the weekend at the Garma Festival the possible question that could be asked in a referendum, Burney said there was already large amounts of detail out about how the body would function.

She said while the Voice was an important issue, the government would aim to pursue as much consensus as possible about the path to establish it.

“We will not be rushed, and it is very important that this belongs to the Australian people, not to politicians,” she told ABC radio on Monday.

“There will be a process, we will not be rushed.”

A potential question to be asked in the referendum would be: “Do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said details about the Voice, such as its function and how it operates, will then be worked out following consultation.

Albanese recommended adding three sentences to the constitution: A body to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice; the Voice may make representations to parliament and the executive government on Indigenous matters; and the parliament shall have the power to make laws on the Voice’s composition, functions, powers and procedures.

Burney said previous work about the Voice by Aboriginal leaders over many years would not be jettisoned and would be part of the consideration going forward.

“There is a lot of detail out there in the community,” she said.

“If people are going to vote on something, what they need is to have an understanding of why this is important.”

While a timeline for the referendum had not been finalised, Labor reportedly prefers holding the vote next year.

Greens First Nation spokeswoman Lidia Thorpe said she welcomed the referendum and wanted all elements of the Uluru Statement to be enacted.

However, she called on the government to implement a treaty with Indigenous people and to follow through on all recommendations from the royal commission into deaths in custody.

“I have always said that I’ll work with the government to get it right,” she told ABC radio.

“Our priority should be black justice in this country, our priority should be about saving lives today, not waiting for a referendum.”

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