Indigenous voice before election: minister

·1-min read

The minister responsible for Indigenous Australians has promised to deliver them a voice to parliament before the next election.

But Ken Wyatt remains committed to legislating the voice rather than embedding it in the constitution.

An expert panel established to help design the voice received more than 2500 submissions.

An overwhelming majority of submissions (86 per cent) demanded it be constitutionally enshrined, as envisaged in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Mr Wyatt is keen to draw a distinction between recognising Indigenous people in the constitution and including a voice in the legal document.

He plans to legislate the Indigenous voice before the next election, which is due in less than 12 months.

"There will be time," Mr Wyatt told ABC radio on Monday.

"We've been doing a lot of work on this and I'm buoyed by what our people on the ground are saying.

"We just want to be listened to. We want our matters addressed. We want local issues around health, education, housing, land and other matters addressed. They're our priorities."

However, Indigenous people will be kept waiting for recognition in the constitution, with the minister focused on getting the voice right first.

Mr Wyatt said while surveys consistently showed strong support for constitutional recognition, it was important to get the wording right before holding a referendum.

"We've not walked away from constitutional recognition," he said.

"We've not progressed to where we want to be in that constitutional recognition set of words the Australian public will support."

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