March 24, 2023

Former US basketball star Shaquille O’Neal will help Australia’s new government implement reforms to give parliament an Indigenous voice, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Saturday as he stands in the NBA Hall of Fame beside.

Albanese’s centre-left Labour government is seeking a referendum on a constitutional amendment that recognises Aboriginal people and consults with them on decisions affecting their lives.

Details of the so-called Aboriginal voices in parliament will follow a national referendum, which the government hopes will take place during the current term of parliament.

“I’m in your country and whatever you need, just let me know,” O’Neal told Albanese at a news conference in Sydney, before leaving without answering any questions.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney told a news conference that O’Neill had asked to be involved, describing the mission of change as “a noble task”.

Albanese said the four-time NBA champion O’Neal has a proven track record in the U.S. for social justice and “helping the marginalized.”

“We want to build the widest possible support, we want to reach out to people who can connect with young people, especially from all walks of life,” Albanese said.

“Shaq has a track record of … bringing people from different backgrounds together, which is consistent with our approach.”

The Prime Minister said O’Neill had agreed to make some videos on the issue.

Labour has pledged to put forward a referendum when it runs for a general election in May, when it ends nearly a decade of rule by the conservative Liberal-National coalition.

Since European colonization in the 1700s, Australia’s Indigenous peoples have worked hard for generations to gain recognition for injustice. The constitution, which came into force in 1901, makes no reference to the country’s Aboriginal people.

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