Shaquille O’Neal to support Australian Indigenous ‘Voice’ campaign

Shaquille O’Neal will throw his support behind the Australian government’s campaign to create an Indigenous “Voice to Parliament,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on 27 August.

The 7-foot-1 NBA Hall of Famer, who’s in Australia on a speaking tour, met with Albanese and Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney in Sydney.

O’Neal requested the meeting to learn more about the push to recognize Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for the first time in the nation’s constitution, said the prime minister.

Albanese said his government had sought to “mobilize support for the ‘Voice to Parliament’ by talking with sporting figures” and that O’Neal had agreed to appear in videos for the campaign.

“Whatever you need from me, you just let me know,” the four-time NBA champion told Albanese at a joint press conference.

Albanese’s center-left government, which swept to power in the May elections, has pledged to hold a national referendum on Indigenous constitutional recognition and the creation of a “Voice to Parliament” in its first term.

The “Voice” would be a permanent body established to provide advice to the country’s parliament on issues affecting the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In Australia, the vast majority of referendums — including a 1999 vote for the country to become a republic — fail to pass the 50-percent support mark required at the ballot box.

“There is always a risk,” Albanese conceded on 27 August, but added that not holding the vote would not advance the cause either.

“There is a new dawn coming in this country,” Burney said. “I have been involved in Aboriginal affairs for 45 years. And I have never felt optimism, I have never seen the curiosity that non-Aboriginal Australians have about truth (that I do now).”

The most resounding referendum win in Australia occurred in 1967, when more than 90 percent of voters cast a ballot in favor of Aboriginal people being counted as part of the nation’s population. Agence France-Presse

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