Australia’s Labor government Thursday called on the nation’s multi-billion dollar mining industry to actively support the government’s commitments to Indigenous people. The government, led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, is planning a referendum on an amendment to the Australian Constitution to provide for the permanent representation of Indigenous people in Parliament.
During an address at the International Mining and Resources Conference, Minister for Resources Madeline King urged the resources sector to play a “positive and energetic role in ensuring the Voice campaign is a success,” noting “the First Nations peoples of Australia were the first to inherit the extraordinary natural endowment of this continent, and the resources sector owes First Nations people so much.”
In their May election commitment, the Labor government pledged to move quickly on a referendum to constitutionally recognise an Indigenous voice in parliament. Because the constitution makes no reference to Indigenous people, a yes vote would rectify their ongoing historical exclusion from the parliamentary process. In late July, Albanese announced that the Australian people should be asked the “clearest possible” yes or no referendum question. He recommended the addition of provisions to the constitution establishing an advisory body, which would have the power to make representations to Parliament on matters relating to Indigenous people.
The referendum is expected in the next financial year between July 2023 and July 2024.