PM seeks support from NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal for referendum on Voice to parliament
The Prime Minister has sought support from US NBA star Shaquille O’Neal to reach young people in their decision on the Indigenous Voice to parliament referendum.
Anthony Albanese met with O’Neal on Saturday to “mobilise support” to engage young people in the conversation about the referendum for constitutional change to introduce an Indigenous Voice to parliament.
The press conference was graced with an albeit brief appearance from O’Neal.
“I’m here in the country, anything you need just let me know,” he said as he shook Albanese’s hand.
“I want to let you know that Shaq loves Australia.”
Albanese said engaging O’Neal in the country’s referendum is about building support and engaging with “people who can connect with young people but with all sections of our society”.
“Shaq has that record especially when it comes to bringing people together of different backgrounds which is consistent with our approach to bringing a constitutionally recognised Voice to parliament,” he said.
“Shaq has agreed to do some vids and to have a chat about the importance of bringing people together which is really what the constitutional Voice to parliament is about.”
He argued O’Neal is aware of the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in “life expectancy, health outcomes, education, housing, infant mortality” and is interested in these issues.
“He wanted to inform himself about what this debate was about, more by engaging directly with the Minister for Indigenous Affairs and myself as the Prime Minister,” Albanese said
“People who are concerned about social justice and opportunity, regardless of people’s background, the circumstances of their birth, they are interested in these issues.”
On a slightly comedic note to the press conference, O’Neal left and asked Albanese to grant government clearance which the prime minister later explained is in reference to a gifted boomerang.
“We have presented Shaq with a boomerang that may well need some special customs to get let through into the United States,” Albanese said.
No date has been set for the referendum but Labor has indicated it will be before the next election, which is due in 2025.