The prime minister has rejected suggestions the government might legislate for an Indigenous voice to parliament if a referendum on constitutional recognition is lost.

Anthony Albanese said the argument the government could do this amounted to confusing rugby league with rugby union.

“If Australians say no, then there will be no constitutional change,” he told radio 2GB Sydney on Wednesday.

Under the current timeline, the referendum is due to be held in the second half of this year.

The draft referendum question is: “Do you support an alteration to the Constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?”

If the referendum is successful, the federal parliament will debate legislation to set up a consultative body called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

Mr Albanese has said the voice might make representations to parliament and the executive government on matters relating to Indigenous people.

But the government will not be bound by those representations.

Asked if this could create a legal minefield and pave the way for a potential High Court case, Mr Albanese said “that’s not right – all the legal experts say that’s not right”.

“That will not be allowed and that’s why you will have legislation before the parliament that will determine the nature of that detail,” he said.

In an interview on Tuesday night, Mr Albanese said he was not contemplating the referendum would fail.