• Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra. (AAP)Source: AAP
Ken Wyatt's push to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a voice to parliament could spark fresh divisions.
NITV Staff Writer

11 Jul 2019 - 4:20 PM  UPDATED 11 Jul 2019 - 4:20 PM

The federal government appears likely to face dissent from both conservative coalition MPs and Aboriginal activists over its plan to bring about an Indigenous voice to parliament.

Ken Wyatt, the minister for Indigenous Australians, used a major NAIDOC Week speech to outline an ambitious timetable for constitutional recognition.

He also committed to bringing an Indigenous voice to parliament but signalled it might be legislated rather than enshrined in the constitution as proposed by the Uluru Statement.

However, some coalition MPs have cast doubt over a new parliamentary advisory body.

Queensland LNP senator Amanda Stoker said inserting "flowery" language or entrenching an Indigenous voice to parliament in the constitution would not help fix social issues.

"If we think that putting words in the constitution is going to solve that diverse bag of really serious but practical problems, (we're) going to be really disappointed," she told Sydney radio station 2GB.

The senator also warned against major changes to the nation’s founding document.

"If what we're talking about is elevating them into some different category and entrenching the kind of identity politics of racial differences in our constitution, well I think that would be deeply harmful," she said.

Federal government commits to referendum on Indigenous constitutional recognition in the next three years
The Minister for Indigenous Australians hopes to hold a popular vote on Indigenous constitutional recognition within the next three years.

Indigenous rights campaigner Michael Mansell said he would oppose a referendum and suggested Aboriginal people in Tasmania would instead campaign for a treaty.

“We know the voice will end up an advisory body,” he told NITV.

“It will have no services to deliver; it won’t have its own budget to distribute to Aboriginal people; it can’t hand over any land; it can’t even control its own composition. That will be decided by government.”

“On the other hand, a treaty will deliver land to all Aboriginal people around the country. It will also provide for a share of the wealth and the power of Australia distributed amongst Aboriginal people.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull have both spoken out against enshrining a "third chamber" of parliament in the constitution.

The Labor Party wants an Indigenous voice to parliament enshrined in the constitution, but has committed to working constructively with the government on the issue.

"A voice to parliament absolutely has to be entrenched in the constitution," the opposition's Indigenous affairs spokeswoman Linda Burney said.

Mr Wyatt has stressed the government won't go ahead with a referendum until it's certain it will succeed.

"Because if we lose it, the impact is profound," he told ABC's 7.30 program.

"I would love to achieve it in this term of government but I'm also going to be pragmatic and say we will do it when we have the right mix of all of the ingredients that are necessary for a successful referendum."

With AAP

What is ‘truth-telling’ and why does it matter to Indigenous Australians?
How do you hold a commission into telling the truth?
Voice to Parliament, recognition and Makarrata: What you need to know
Inside the Referendum Council's final report, the Uluru Statement form the Heart, and how we got here.
Explainer: What is a treaty?
A look at what a treaty is and how the adoption of a treaty might change the political landscape for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.