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Australia enlists NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal on Indigenous reform


Former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, speaks during an interview on CNBC about joining the board of Papa John’s International Inc., on the ground of the Recent York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Recent York, U.S., March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

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SYDNEY, Aug 27 (Reuters) – Former US basketball star Shaquille O’Neal will help Australia’s latest government implement reforms for an Indigenous voice to parliament, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday said, standing alongside NBA Hall of famer.

Albanese’s centre-left Labor Party government is in search of a referendum, needed to alter the structure, on recognising Indigenous people within the structure and mandating consultation with them on decisions that affect their lives.

Details on the so-called Indigenous voice to parliament will follow the national referendum on the query, which the federal government desires to hold within the parliament’s current term.

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“I’m here in your country, whatever you would like from me you only let me know,” O’Neal told Albanese during a news conference in Sydney, before leaving without taking questions.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney told the news conference that O’Neal had requested to be involved and described the mission for change as “a noble task.”

Albanese said O’Neal, a four-time NBA champion, had a track record in the US of working for social justice and “lifting people up who’re marginalised.”

“We would like to construct the broadest possible support and we wish to have interaction with individuals who can connect with young people specifically but with all sections of society,” Albanese said.

“Shaq has that record of … bringing people together of various backgrounds which is consistent with our approach.”

O’Neal had agreed to do some videos on the difficulty, the prime minister said.

Labor committed to proposing a referendum while campaigning for the overall election in May, when it ended almost a decade of rule by conservative Liberal-National coalition governments.

Australia’s Indigenous people have toiled for generations to win recognition for injustices since European colonisation within the 1700s. The structure, which got here into effect in 1901, doesn’t discuss with the country’s Indigenous people.

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Reporting by Sam McKeith; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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