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Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum bill passes the Senate

Emma Ruben -

The Constitutional Alteration Bill vital to the Indigenous Voice referendum has passed the Senate, with a vote of 52 in support to 19 against.

A standing ovation and applause broke out on the floor of parliament from the 'yes' side and from the public galleries.

The vote being passed now requires Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to set a referendum date which must be no sooner than two months and no later than six months from June 19.

In the public viewing chambers Monday morning Indigenous leaders in attendance included Tom Calma, Megan Davis, Pat Anderson and Thomas Mayo.

In her address to the Senate, Greens Senator Dorinda Cox noted that sovereignty has never been ceded.

"My sovereignty is my birthright to care for this country, to protect this country and to be a knowledge holder and to pass that traditional knowledge on to the next generation," she said.

"These chains of the constitution does not impact our sovereignty, my sovereignty.

"We had discussions with the referendum working group, the attorney general, Minister for Indigenous Affairs who joins us here today and many others and I want to thank them for their respect of our concerns and for taking the time to hear us and address these concerns."

Country Liberal Party Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price reiterated she would be voting no.

"We are being divided," she said.

"We will be further divided throughout this campaign. And if the yes vote is successful. We will be divided, forever."

Independent Senator Lidia Thorpe walked into the Senate wearing a t-shirt from Gammin Threads with the phrase 'gammin' across her chest, echoing her description of the Bill in an earlier debate.

Senate president Sue Lines asked Senator Thorpe to put on a jacket as slogans aren't allowed in the chamber.

Senator Thorpe began her speech by wishing the Senate "happy assimilation day".

"Sovereignty has never been ceded," she said.

"But for the first time in this country's history, people are starting to talk about sovereignty and what that actually means.

"To recognise First Peoples' sovereignty in this country will dissolve this colonial, violent institution that we're all in right now."

Senator Thorpe said the Senate needed specific seats for Indigenous people, similar to the parliament in New Zealand with contains five dedicated Maori seats.

Senator Thorpe. Image: Lukas Coch (AAP)

Labor Senator for the NT Malarndirri McCarthy said she was proud to speak on the importance of the Voice but called for respect on both sides of the debate.

"I am concerned, a little bit, when I hear about some of the commentary that goes on and I still urge all Australians to dig deep, to listen to the better side of yourself throughout this debate, and to keep it at a level that is respectful," she said.

"I am mindful when we reflect on the marriage equality debate and the hurt, the deep hurt, that impacted a lot of those families throughout that whole debate, and I ask all Australians to ensure that we keep our discussions and debate at considerations as we walk this journey, this very sacred journey of our country, with the utmost respect for one another.

"That means all sides, all of us on the yes side, I urge you to be mindful of the commentary and the conversations that we have with the broader Australian public."

The bill passed with the support of Labor, the Greens, some Liberals, David Pocock and the Jacqui Lambie Network.

The Nationals, other Liberals, Senator Thorpe, One Nation and Ralph Babet, elected on the Clive Palmer ticket, voted no.


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