Australia

The majority of Australians want Indigenous recognition: Poll

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A majority of Australians support recognising Indigenous people in the constitution and establishing a voice to parliament, an Essential survey has confirmed.

A clear majority of voters support recognising Indigenous Australians in the constitution and creating a voice to parliament, according to a new poll.

Most also support a treaty with Indigenous Australians, the Essential survey confirms.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt has committed to holding a referendum on constitutional recognition within the next three years.

But he and the prime minister will not support a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous voice to parliament, as proposed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Australia's first Aboriginal federal cabinet minister, West Australian MP Ken Wyatt with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Australia's first Aboriginal federal cabinet minister, West Australian MP Ken Wyatt with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
AAP

Conservative Liberals and Nationals have raised concerns the Indigenous advisory body could become a "third chamber" of federal parliament.

"We're not in favour of a third chamber or a separate voice," senior minister Peter Dutton told the Nine Network on Friday.

"We've got a very strong democracy, we want to see more Indigenous people in the parliament, and it's great that Ken Wyatt is the first Indigenous affairs minister.

"He's got a process that's underway, let him conduct the consultation and then we'll make an announcement about the next step."

As he tries to build consensus for constitutional change, Mr Wyatt is seeking to calm his colleagues.

"It never was a third chamber," he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

"It is about people, communities wanting to be heard."

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt speaks at the National Press Club in Canberra, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (AAP Image/Rohan Thomson) NO ARCHIVING
Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt has promised to hold a referendum on Indigenous constitutional recognition within three years.
AAP

The proposal for an Indigenous voice to parliament - a key recommendation of the 2017 Uluru Statement - has been a vexed issue for the coalition government for years.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will reportedly veto any move to enshrine an Indigenous voice in the constitution.

As such, Mr Wyatt is determined to separate the voice from constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Above all, he is adamant the proposal put to the Australian people must have a strong chance of success.

"If we fail in any recognition in the constitution then we have a problem, because it won't be resurrected for a period of time," Mr Wyatt told ABC Radio National.

"When a constitutional (referendum) fails, then it leaves an impact for our people, it will be a significant impact on the psyche."

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