Plans for referendum to be revealed
Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt is set to shed light on his plan for potentially achieving constitutional recognition of Australia's first peoples.
Mr Wyatt will also highlight the Morrison government's commitment to an indigenous voice to parliament in a major speech at Canberra's National Press Club later today.
Speaking to ABC radio this morning, Mr Wyatt said the government needs to go back to the model of the 1967 referendum "where unions became leaders", and where churches, Aboriginal organisations and external groups were at the forefront of that process.
"It is unfinished business but I think that there's a tremendous groundswell of goodwill," he said. "Reconciliation Australia had about a 12 per cent rusted-on group who said absolutely no, but the rest of Australians - and what I love about our country is this 'fair go' concept that has prevailed - people believe that we need to right wrongs."
He said the success of the referendum will rely on a total commitment from both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, as well as himself and Shadow Social Services Minister Linda Burney working together.
Today's address comes six weeks after the Perth MP became the first Aboriginal person to have ministerial stewardship of indigenous affairs.
The Noongar man has already said his government is committed to constitutional recognition and bringing about an indigenous voice.
But he has also stressed these goals need to be achieved through a long and careful process.
The Voalition set aside money in its latest federal budget to develop a model for an indigenous voice.
Mr Wyatt believes it should not just be thought of only as a structure that would sit inside parliament or give advice to parliament.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2017 called for a First Nations Voice enshrined in the constitution and the creation of a powerful "Makarrata Commission" of elected elders that would supervise agreement-making between government and indigenous people.
But the proposal was shot down by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said the advisory body "would inevitably become seen as a third chamber of parliament" and was not capable of winning acceptance at a referendum. Mr Wyatt says it is important to get many Australians on side with the concept of an indigenous voice by making it meaningful to them.
"We're getting there slowly," he said.
"If we go to a referendum and we don't have the support of our people, and we don't have the support of the majority of Australians nor the majority of the states, we lose it … Symbolically that would be seen as a massive defeat."