An Indigenous representative voice should be enshrined in the constitution, the prime minister’s Referendum Council has recommended, largely accepting the calls of the Uluru “statement from the heart”.
The final report, delivered to Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten on Monday afternoon, recommends a referendum asking that “a representative body that gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations a voice to the Commonwealth parliament” be included in the constitution.
Guardian Australia understands it also recommends all Australian parliaments pass a “declaration of recognition” to articulate a symbolic statement of recognition.
Sky News reported that one council member, former Liberal minister Amanda Vanstone, did not endorse the recommendations and wrote a dissenting report.
The council’s final report will essentially accept the calls for reform made by Indigenous leaders at Uluru in May.
The Uluru “statement from the heart” was the result of nationwide dialogues with Indigenous groups, leading to a three-day summit of 250 representatives, who ultimately rejected the symbolic idea of constitutional recognition.
Instead they called for a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous voice in parliament, and a Makarrata commission – using the Yolngu word for coming together after a struggle – to lead to a treaty.
It is believed the report acknowledges the importance of the call for a Makarrata, but rules it is outside the council’s scope of inquiry into constitutional change.
Turnbull will now have to decide whether to accept the recommendations of the council, which he and Shorten set up in 2015 and which has now disbanded.
Vanstone’s dissenting report could also signal further difficulty for Turnbull in getting Liberal party support.