Prime minister Tony Abbott and opposition leader Bill Shorten issued a rare joint press release this afternoon following a meeting with indigenous leaders at the PM’s Sydney residence, Kirribilli house.
The pair talked of “recognising the First Australians in our constitution and ending the great silence about indigenous people in our founding document”.
“The Leader of the Opposition and I are committed to holding a recognition referendum,” Abbott said, adding that the timing should be “outside the politics of the election cycle” and after the next election.
Together, they’ve proposed three steps to progress the issue. Here’s what they said:
Firstly, we will establish a series of community conferences across the country to provide an opportunity for everyone to have a say and for all significant points of view to be considered. Prior to the commencement of these community conferences, all members of parliament will have an opportunity to discuss indigenous recognition.
Secondly, the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples chaired by Mr Ken Wyatt AM MP with Deputy Chair, Senator Nova Peris OAM will develop a discussion paper on various issues regarding constitutional change to help facilitate an informed community discussion.
And third, we will establish a Referendum Council that’s broadly reflective of the Australian people to progress a range of issues around constitutional change including how a question might be settled, timing and constitutional issues. This process should inform the further steps we take, including any constitutional conventions.
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