A call for local and regional elements in Indigenous voice to parliament

The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition at the Barunga meetings.

Any proposal for an Indigenous voice to Federal Parliament would have local and regional elements, the joint select committee on Constitutional Recognition said in an interim report.

In the report released recently, committee co-chairs Labor Senator Pat Dodson and Liberal MP Julian Leeser said after listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, it was clear many of the challenges they faced were at a local and regional level rather than national.

“These solutions need to be found through close political and fiscal cooperation between Commonwealth, state and territory, and regional bodies,” they said in the report.

“Consequently, to be effective, any voice proposal will need to have local, regional, and national elements.”

The 11-member committee was set up after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull rejected the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s idea of an Aboriginal voice to parliament last year. It is tasked with inquiring into all matters relating to constitutional change.

A final report is due to be presented to federal parliament in November.

Senator Dodson and Mr Leeser said they hoped the next rounds of consultations would help them refine models which would form the basis for further consultations between the Australian government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In a statement after the report’s release, Senator Dodson said the Labor-initiated committee wanted to put First Nations people back on the national agenda.

He said the overwhelming evidence to the committee was that First Nations people wanted a voice and a more meaningful say in the issues that affect their lives.

Wendy Caccetta

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