More work to do before decision on referendum question
The federal Referendum Working Group has met in Adelaide - but hasn't released the wording of a question about a proposal for an Indigenous voice to parliament, as expected.
Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and Senator Pat Dodson, the Special Envoy for Reconciliation and the Implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, also attended the Adelaide gathering.
Before their discussions, a key architect of the Indigenous voice panned a proposed change to how it interacts with parliament.
Last year Prime Minister Anthony Albanese suggested the draft question: "Do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice?"
Mr Dreyfus suggested adding a phrase to the constitutional change to ensure parliament decided on "the effect" of the voice's representations.
Before the Adelaide meeting, referendum working group member Thomas Mayor described the addition as "unnecessary and not desirable".
"The frustration is that we're possibly months away from a referendum and now we're having a debate about some extra words," he said.
"It's nation building, it's unifying, it's a fair thing to do.
"It's recognition of over 60,000 years of continuous culture before colonisation."
The working group's statement after the meeting said they had "progressed the wording of the question on the ballot paper".
It said the government plans to introduce legislation to set up the referendum to parliament in the final sitting week of March.
"The bill will define the question Australians will be asked at the referendum and contain the proposed amendment to the constitution," the statement said.
This will be followed by a comprehensive parliamentary inquiry, which will provide people with the chance to make formal submissions on the proposed constitutional amendments and the question.
The working group also met with Acting Premier of South Australia Susan Close and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Kyam Maher to discuss the progress towards a state-based model for a voice.
The Labor state government is hoping to have its legislation passed by Easter.
The national vote will take place later this year.