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Constitutional Voice to Parliament will not cede First Nations' sovereignty, government says

Giovanni Torre -

The Federal Government has shut down concerns a constitutional Voice to Parliament would cede First Nations sovereignty, but admits legal advice on the issue has not been sought.

Speaking at the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee hearing this week, Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe asked representatives from the Attorney General's department to clarify the matter.

Ms Thorpe said First Nations people were the sovereign people of the land, and had been so for thousands of generations.

"The question, very clearly, is does going into the Australian constitution through the Voice cede the sovereignty of First Nations people in this country," she said.

Labor Senator Murray Watt, representing the Attorney General, said "the answer is no".

"Departmental officials... have said they would not categorise it that way and as representatives of the Attorney General I can confirm it doesn't," he said.

The DjabWurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara senator asked if the government had received any legal advice on the Voice's impact on the sovereignty of First Nations people.

Attorney General's department representative Katherine Jones said the government was working closely with the National Indigenous Australians Agency on the issue.

"From from an Attorney General's department perspective we are focussed on looking at legal issues associated with the referendum. We have not provided any separate advice around sovereignty in the context of the referendum," she said.

After the hearing Ms Thorpe said the government has effectively acknowledged the sovereignty of Indigenous people by saying it would not be ceded through the establishment of the Voice to parliament.

"Yet they haven't received any legal advice on this, despite having experts on constitutional law," she said.

"The Greens will keep working with this government to ensure First Nations Sovereignty is never ceded."

A spokesperson from the Attorney-General's department said the Voice would have a practical impact for First Nations people.

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