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Voice would be a two-way relationship, says Burney

Andrew Brown -

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney says the proposed Indigenous voice would be a two-way relationship that's key to solving long-running issues.

As campaigning ahead of the referendum ramps up, Ms Burney said the dynamic between government and the proposed body would be based on trust.

"The relationship I want with the voice is a two-way process, one of respect, one of listening to fresh ideas about intractable problems," she told ABC's Insiders program on Sunday.

"The voice is about two things: it's about making a practical difference to the shocking social justice outcomes for Aboriginal people, and of course, it's about that wonderful unifying aspect of recognising 65,000 years of history in our constitution."

The comments follow an address by Ms Burney at the National Press Club, where she outlined that the voice would have four main policy areas of health, education, jobs and housing.

The minister said she would respect the independence of the voice to advise on issues, should the referendum succeed.

"The voice is an independent body chosen by Aboriginal people to represent their views and voices in Canberra," she said.

"The voice I know will concentrate on issues to close the gap in this country. We've got 19 targets and four are on track.

"That cannot be good for the country and certainly not good for Aboriginal people."

The referendum is due to be held between October and December this year.

Ms Burney, who is in Tasmania on Sunday to help advocate for the 'yes' vote, said the scope of the proposed voice should be a "respectful discussion".

"I have identified very clearly ... what I think the priorities are, but obviously, there are other issues, like baby birth weights, like life expectancy," she said.

"There is nothing to lose and there is everything to gain from the establishment of a voice."

The minister said the referendum was needed to ensure the body could not be disbanded by future governments "by the stroke of a pen".

She said should the 'yes' vote succeed, parliament would then determine the structure of the voice.

"The legislation that will follow this will determine the composition of the voice, the functions of the voice and ultimately the establishment of the voice," she said.

"I have enormous faith in the Australian people and I don't say that because I'm supposed to say it, I say it because I really believe it, and I believe that this will be a successful referendum."

Ms Burney and fellow 'yes' campaigners will be buoyed by new polling that indicates a potential upswing in support months out from Australians heading to the ballot box.

A survey of more than 1000 Australians, carried out by progressive think tank The Australia Institute from July 4 to 7, puts the 'yes' vote at 55 per cent to 33 per cent for 'no' and 15 per cent still unsure.

That stands in stark contrast to last month's Newspoll that showed 'yes' was trailing 'no' 43 to 47 with 10 per cent undecided, and a Resolve poll that indicated 'no' was ahead when people were forced to choose.

The Australian Institute poll did not feature a state-by-state breakdown but it confirmed younger Australians and migrants were more likely to support the voice than older and Australian-born adults.

Andrew Brown - AAP


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