Australian Opposition to put Aboriginal recognition to referendum

15:09, August 10, 2010      

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Australian Opposition on Tuesday promised a referendum at the 2013 election on the wording of a Constitution preamble to recognize indigenous Australians.

The Opposition also said it will dump Labor's plan for an expert panel to build support for the constitutional recognition of indigenous people.

Labor promised on Sunday to establish the panel as discontent boiled over in Arnhem Land over the absence of indigenous policy from the election campaign.

As indigenous people across remote Australia began casting their votes in mobile polling booths for the federal election on August 21, the Coalition's indigenous affairs spokesman, Nigel Scullion, said there was no need for another committee and he would guarantee a timeline for constitutional recognition to be delivered to Australia's first people.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott said on Monday that he did not think the previous Coalition government had done enough on the symbolic side for Aborigines, while the current government had not done enough on the practical side.

Indigenous academic Marcia Langton said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were unhappy with their status in the nation and would not feel "truly Australian" until they were recognized in the Constitution.

In 2008, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd committed Labor to holding a referendum on whether the Constitution's preamble should be changed to recognize indigenous people, a year after John Howard had given the same commitment.

Source: Xinhua


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