Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt will reportedly pledge a referendum within the next three years on recognising Indigenous people in the constitution.
According to speech notes obtained by the ABC, Wyatt will address the National Press Club today to promise the Morrison Government’s commitment to constitutional change.
Speaking on ABC Radio on Wednesday morning, Wyatt said the country needs consensus, but that any change to the constitution needs “the right set of words.”
“What people don’t realise is whatever words you insert into the constitution, they can have significant implications way beyond the simple wording,” he told AM host Sabra Lane.
“High Court judges would use the wording as the basis on many of their decisions, and the simple intent could be a complex challenge in the future.”
Any referendum question must be supported by the majority of Australian voters, as well as at least four out of six states.
The decision comes after the previous Coalition government, led by former PM Malcolm Turnbull, rejected a 2017 proposal from hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that demanded an Indigenous advisory body be included in Australia’s constitution.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has agreed to work with the Labor Party on the issue, and Minister Wyatt looks set to be leading the negotiations with Opposition counterpart Linda Burney.
Wyatt will reportedly pledge to develop a “local, regional, and national voice”.