The Hon Linda Burney MP
Minister for Indigenous Australians
The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP
Senator The Hon Malarndirri McCarthy
Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians
Senator Patrick Dodson
Special Envoy for Reconciliation and Implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart
CONSTITUTION ALTERATION (ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER VOICE) 2023
The Australian Government is today taking a first legislative step towards the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s founding document.
The Constitution Alteration (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice) 2023 contains the constitutional amendment that will write a new chapter in our Constitution:
Chapter IX Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples 129 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice
In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:
- There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
- The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
- The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.
For 122 years Australia’s Constitution has not recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
This referendum is a historic opportunity to amend our Constitution to finally recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The introduction of the Bill follows months of extensive consultations with First Nations leaders on the Referendum Working Group and legal experts in the Constitutional Expert Group.
The Voice is about two things: recognition and consultation.
Recognition of more than 60,000 years of continuous connection to this land by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Consultation through Voice, because listening to First Nations communities leads to better policies and better outcomes.
The 2023 referendum will be a unifying moment for Australia. It’s about taking Australia forward, for everyone.
The Government proposes the Bill be referred to a Joint Select Committee for consideration, with the Committee calling for public submissions and reporting in May 2023.
Passage of this legislation through the Parliament following the completion of the Parliamentary inquiry will enable a referendum to be held in the second half of this year.
The Government looks forward to all members of the Australian Parliament joining us in support of the passage of this Bill.
THURSDAY 30 MARCH 2023