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shaq-ing up

Shaquille O'Neal joins effort to amend Australian Constitution

Retired NBA star Shaquille O'Neal lent his voice to an effort to amend the Australian Constitution, appearing at a press conference in Sydney alongside Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Saturday.

The 7'1" four-time champion did not speak much at the conference — except to tell reporters that "Shaq loves Australia" — but Albanese tweeted Friday that he and O'Neal "had a great discussion about basketball and rugby league, and what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament will mean for Australia."  

The New York Times explains that the proposed amendment would create an indigenous "Voice to Parliament" to ensure that Australia's Aboriginal communities were consulted on issues affecting them.

The draft amendment consists of three sentences. First, "There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice." Second, "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to parliament and the executive government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples." And third, "The parliament shall, subject to this constitution, have power to make laws with respect to the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice."

A date for the referendum has not yet been set. To succeed, an Australian referendum needs the support of a majority of voters nationwide and the support of a majority of voters in a majority of states. The last Australian referendum, which would have cut the country's ties with the British monarchy, failed in 1999.