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Voice to Parliament referendum to go ahead



The federal government has finally struck a deal with the Coalition, allowing the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum to officially go ahead.

The legislation to hold the referendum could be passed by the Senate as early as today, with the important vote to take place sometime between October and December of this year.

The Indigenous Voice to Parliament was a key part of 2017's Uluru Statement from the Heart and would comprise of a national group of about 20 members who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

EXPLAINED: What is an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and what would a referendum entail?

This body would be a balanced mix of genders and include a Youth and Disability Advisory Group.

Any change to Australia's Constitution is a historic moment, there have only been eight changes to it since 1901.

"We'd very much like to thank the constructive way in which the government has engaged with the opposition," Victorian Senator Jane Hume said.

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Greens senator Larissa Waters. (AAP)

The Coalition has confirmed it will back the legislation on a number of conditions, including that: Donations to both the 'yes' and 'no' campaigns will be tax deductible, official pamphlets will be distributed for both sides of the debate, and an education campaign on the referendum will be neutral.

"We want a vote, we just want a fair vote, we don't want the scales tipped in one direction for a yes or no," Nationals leader David Littleproud said.

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With the Coalition confirming their support of the bill, Labor won't need the Greens and crossbench to get it through parliament, effectively sidelining the minor party as it tries to make changes such as allowing people to enrol to vote on election day.

"It's extremely disappointing the government has decided not to consider crossbench amendments and instead has prioritised reaching an agreement with the opposition," Greens Senator Larissa Waters said.

So far, Labor has allocated $75 million for preparations for the referendum, with another $160 million set aside in case it is needed.

The full cost will be detailed in the upcoming Budget. 

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