Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has faith in Australians to ignore misinformation about the Indigenous voice to parliament and instead support the proposal.
Ahead of parliament's return for the new year, Mr Albanese called the voice a chance for the nation to build a better future.
In a keynote speech to the Chifley Research Centre conference in Canberra, he urged Australians to support the voice as a vehicle to closing the gap, improve lives and be a national achievement for all to share.
Mr Albanese said in 2023, 56 years after the successful referendum to remove a constitutional provision excluding Indigenous people from the census, a new generation of Australians would have the opportunity to "go one better".
"Instead of removing a provision that no longer speaks for who we are, we can make a change that speaks for the future we seek to build," he said.
"We can vote not to remove something negative but to add something positive: to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our nation's birth certificate."
Mr Albanese said the referendum was about recognition and consultation and was not a radical proposal but a sensible one.
He said enshrining a voice to parliament would have no impact on Indigenous sovereignty, an issue raised by Greens senator Lidia Thorpe as a barrier to her support.
The draft wording to be added to the constitution was also up for discussion and the prime minister asked for "improvements or alterations" to the words he proposed at the Garma festival more than six months ago.
Professor Megan Davis, a member of the government's referendum working group, said it was important the constitution not have wording about how the voice operates that could restrict future progress.
"What we need in 2023 may not be what we need in 2053," she told ABC Insiders.
"One of the important things about the deferral of the detail to the parliament is that you have that possibility to change legislation."
Prof Davis said Australians would have enough details to make an informed vote in the referendum.
"We believe absolutely ... in the agency of the Australian people and that (they) do get this reform, they understand the importance of having a voice at the table," she said.
Mr Albanese said the constitution's authors knew it was parliament's responsibility to make laws about detail.
"The constitution contains the power and then parliament uses its democratic authority to build the institution and renovate it as needed," he said.
"At this year's referendum Australians will be voting on the principle ... of recognition and consultation, the principle of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having a say when it comes to the decisions that affect them."
The Liberal Party has not released its position on the referendum but opposition spokesman Paul Fletcher said it was not unreasonable to ask questions about how the voice would work in practice.
"Australians will only vote for a change to the constitution if they understand it," Mr Fletcher told Sky News.
Mr Albanese said his door was open for "constructive contribution" to the legislative process and the shape of the campaign.
"There are always those who want to create confusion and provoke division to try and stall progress," he said.
But he said the ultimate decision would be up to Australians.
"Moments of national decision ... are also an opportunity for our people to show their best qualities: their generosity, their sense of fairness, their optimism for the future.
"I'm optimistic for the success of the referendum because I've always been optimistic about the character of the Australian people."
Australian Associated Press
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