Australia: an indigenous “voice” in Parliament subject to referendum in 2023

Australia: Indigenous “voice” in parliament subject to referendum in 2023


Australia will put to referendum in 2023 an amendment to its Constitution that could give indigenous people a “voice” in Parliament, the government announced on Wednesday.

Such a change would allow the approximately 900,000 people who identify as Indigenous, out of Australia's 25 million people, to be represented in Parliament and have thus their say in shaping national policy.  

Indigenous Australia does not feature in the Constitution adopted in 1901 and any changes were subject to political controversy.  < /p>

The centre-left government elected in May had promised to hold a referendum on the issue. 

At a traditional festival on Wednesday, Anthony Albanese wished to “reaffirm, proudly and clearly , the desire of (his) government to enshrine an indigenous voice in Parliament in the Australian Constitution”.   

According to Mr Albanese, this change could help Australia “come together as a nation and grasp the outstretched hand” of the natives.  

The Reconciliation Australia lobby has argued that enshrining the proposal in the Constitution would prevent indigenous people from being “silenced” by a different government willing to reverse the change. 

The National Party of australia, a minor conservative party, has already announced that it will campaign against this “voice”.  

The centre-right Liberal Party, the main opposition force, does not s is not pronounced yet. 

Some critics have called the project “a new layer of bureaucratic red tape” and have been skeptical of its real effects on the indigenous community.  

Two precedents exist in other countries, the Norway and Canada, which amended their Constitutions in the 1980s. 

According to the National Museum, Indigenous Australians settled 65,000 years ago but have suffered discrimination since the late 18th century century, marked by the arrival of British settlers and the beginning of oppression.  

Until the 1960s, they were denied the right to vote in some Australian states and territories.&nbsp ; 

Inequalities are still high: this minority faces more difficult living conditions, with less access to healthcare, education, lower life expectancy and higher wages. low. 

According to the Australian Law Commission, it accounts for 27% of the prison population, compared to 2% of the national population.