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Progress on treaty won't come until after referendum

Tess Ikonomou -

Labor has affirmed treaty negotiations between Indigenous people and the Commonwealth won't take place until after a successful referendum on an enshrined voice.

Anthony Albanese ruled out the federal government negotiating a treaty in this term of parliament if the Indigenous voice referendum gets up.

In his victory speech after winning last year's federal election, the prime minister committed to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.

The statement includes enshrining an advisory body which would be called the "voice" in the constitution and a Makarrata commission for the process of "agreement-making" between governments and Indigenous people and truth-telling.

Asked if he would move to draw up a treaty this term should the voice pass, Mr Albanese said there were states and territories already involved in that process.

"No ... because that's occurring with the states," he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

Asked if the Commonwealth has a role in negotiating a treaty or if he supported one, the prime minister would not be drawn.

"What the Commonwealth has a role in is the referendum which will be put to the Australian people in the last quarter of this year, that is what is happening," he said.

"Negotiations are occurring in Victoria, in Queensland and in the Northern Territory."

The prime minister was pressed on his stance by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton in parliament on Wednesday.

Mr Albanese urged Mr Dutton to travel with him to the Indigenous Garma Festival in the Northern Territory this week.

"I invite him to sit down with Indigenous Australians or talk with them ... about why it is that they support and came up with the process of the Uluru Statement from the Heart," he said.

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney also fielded questions during parliament about Labor's commitment to the statement in full, which she said the government backed.

"Progress on Makarrata will not occur until after the referendum," she said.

A vote proposing constitutional recognition of Indigenous people and enshrining a voice will be held between October and December.

Acting Greens leader Mehreen Faruqi said her party backed the statement in full and would keep pushing for that at federal level.

"This referendum is about the voice and the Greens are fully committed to getting a successful 'yes' vote," she said.

The coalition is backing the 'no' case.

It supports constitutional recognition of Indigenous people, as well as legislated - but not constitutionally enshrined - local and regional voice bodies.

Tess Ikonomou - AAP


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