PM makes plea to opponents to back Indigenous voice

·2-min read

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has urged opponents of the Indigenous voice to get behind the body.

Mr Albanese attacked the rhetoric put forward by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who had earlier described the voice as dividing the country and "Orwellian".

"The leader of the opposition gave a speech in this chamber that is simply unworthy of the alternative prime minister of this nation," Mr Albanese said.

"Instead of taking the chance to unify, there are some that have sought only to divide. Now, clearly, there is no form of words that will satisfy some of the leaders of the 'no' campaign."

The prime minister said the voice would lead to a more united and reconciled country.

While some have pushed for the voice not to be able to advise executive government, in order to bring more coalition MPs on board with the proposal, Mr Albanese said the wording of the constitutional change would not be altered.

"These design principles are the product of years of hard work, including by members of the referendum working group," he said.

"They also represent years of consultation and dialogue among communities, the more than 1000 meetings that took place in the lead-up to the First Nations constitutional convention that was held at Uluru."

Parliament spent most of Thursday debating the final form of the constitutional proposal, before it will be put to the public at a referendum, slated to be held between October and December.

Mr Albanese said the voice was a simple change that would provide meaningful action.

"A 'yes' vote in this referendum is a chance for all of us to take the next step on the journey of reconciliation, to be counted and to be heard on the right side of history," he said.

"For most non-Indigenous Australians, this will make no difference to their lives, but it is an opportunity to make a difference for Indigenous Australians."

Earlier, Liberal MP Julian Leeser urged his coalition colleagues to back the proposal and called for a respectful debate.

Mr Leeser stepped down from his position as the coalition's Indigenous Australians spokesman earlier this year, after the Liberals decided not to back the voice to parliament and executive government.

"The voice is advisory - it won't be Moses handing down tablets from the mountain," Mr Leeser said.

"The parliament will still be the democratic centre of our democratic life."

The debate on the voice comes ahead of the sixth anniversary of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which called for an Indigenous voice.

The referendum working group will hold a meeting on Friday at Uluru marking the anniversary.

NT senator Malarndirri McCarthy said the meeting would be an important time of reflection.

"Clearly the debate is still going on in the house and it will go into the Senate in a couple of weeks' time," she told ABC TV on Thursday.

"This weekend is about the spirituality of this journey and the journey that still continues."