Crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm just dropped a bombshell in Canberra this morning when he was being questioned by journalists outside parliament.
The Liberal Democrat from New South Wales – who yesterday said politics was “interfering with my retirement” – suggested Aboriginal people might not have been the first people to set foot on the island continent now called Australia.
The senator raised the notion before a parliamentary report backing a referendum to add indigenous people to the constitution was released today.
“There may have been people in Australia prior to the Aborigines,” he said, pointing to the famed Bradshaw paintings in Western Australia, as well as unnamed anthropologists, as support for his argument, saying there was “serious debate in anthropological circles” on the issue.
Leyonhjelm declared that he was yet to be convinced that Aboriginal people should be recognised as “first Australians” in the Constitution, having previously described the notion as “conjecture”.
Liberal MP Ken Wyatt, who co-chaired the committee on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples tabled the report in parliament this morning to bipartisan support from Labor who said the report “recommends an end to the constitutional silence on the world’s oldest continuing culture”.
“This is a time to walk together. Let us complete our constitution, let us recognise,” the Western Australian indigenous MP said.
The report suggested a parliamentary sitting on July 6 – during the six-week winter recess – to debate its findings, which include a series of constitutional conventions before the referendum to ensure multi-party support.
“This is owned and must be owned by all Australia, black and white, urban and regional, rich and poor.”
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