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Federal. Coalition. Referendum within 12 months to recognise Aboriginals as the “First Australians”

March 15, 2013

http://bigpondnews.com/articles/TopStories/2013/03/15/Abbott_wants_first_Australian_referendum_854867.html?cid=ZBP_NEWS_L_L1-1_AbbottwantsfirstAustralianreferendum_RSS_150313

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott believes a referendum recognising Aboriginal people as the first Australians could be a unifying and liberating moment, even surpassing the apology to the stolen generation.

He is promising that if the coalition wins government in the federal election they would, within 12 months of taking office, put forward for public consultation a draft constitutional amendment and establish a bipartisan process to assess its chances of success.

Bipartisan support won’t be too difficult in principle.

The senate this week passed unopposed a government bill to create an Act of Recognition of indigenous people intended to pave the way for constitutional change by allowing time to build community support for a referendum.

Mr Abbott says an acknowledgement of Aboriginal people as the first Australians would complete the constitution rather than change it.

‘A referendum recognising Aboriginal people as the first Australians could be a unifying and liberating moment for the nation, even surpassing the 1967 change or the national apology,’ Mr Abbott said in a statement on Friday.

‘In seeking to establish a bipartisan process, the coalition acknowledges the difficulty of crafting an amendment that satisfies Aboriginal people while reassuring the wider community that we are not creating two classes of citizen.’

Mr Abbott said they should be prepared to work on it until they get it right because it was too important to be put forward, yet fail.

‘Australians’ hearts are in this now, in a way we’ve never been before, so I believe that it can finally be done,’ he said in the statement.

He told ABC radio in Sydney the coalition didn’t necessarily want a whole new system of legal rights and that was the difficulty with what an expert committee had previously suggested.

‘We need to have another go and see if we can come closer to what the Australian public and indigenous people will be happy with.’

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