One of the world’s most famous NBA stars is lending his support to the campaign for an Indigenous voice to parliament, as he met with the prime minister.
Former LA Lakers centre Shaquille O’Neal met with Anthony Albanese and Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney on Saturday.
“Whatever you need from me, just let me know,” he said during his brief media appearance in Sydney.
“Shaq loves Australia.”
O’Neal’s support will form part of a broader strategy to engage people in the lead-up to a referendum on enshrining an Indigenous voice in the constitution.
“Shaq has agreed to do some (videos) and to have a chat about the importance of bringing people together, and that’s really what the voice to parliament and constitutional recognition is about,” Mr Albanese said.
“He is a global figure, he’s a big figure in all ways.”
The voice is designed as a means for better consultation with Indigenous Australians about matters affecting them including housing and health, and gives the parliament a better chance for positive policy outcomes, the prime minister said.
“It is about how we see ourselves, but it’s also about how Australia is seen in the world,” he said.
“Australia will be seen more positively when we demonstrate our maturity as a nation by having our birth certificate recognise our full history.”
Practically, it’s hoped the voice will help to close the gap between Australia’s Indigenous people and the wider community on issues including life expectancy, incarceration and education, Ms Burney said.
Asking First Nations people how potential laws will effect them is an act of “common decency and good manners”, she said.
Ms Burney presented O’Neal with a boomerang during his visit.