Constitutional recognition for indigenous Australians should not amount to a one clause bill of rights, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says.
Source:
AAP
19 Jan 2012 - 5:17 PM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2015 - 3:02 PM

Constitutional recognition for indigenous Australians should not amount to a one clause bill of rights, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says.

Mr Abbott has welcomed a report from an expert panel which recommends indigenous Australians be recognised in the body of the constitution not just in a new preamble.

He said the coalition would study the report which also proposed a new section of the constitution to prohibit racial discrimination.

"The coalition has a very proud history of support for indigenous recognition in the constitution," Mr Abbott told reporters in Adelaide on Thursday.

"I think this is quite a significant day, it's quite a significant report.

"We have some reservations about anything that might turn out to be a one clause bill of rights.

"But we accept that millions of Australians' hope and dreams are resting on constitutional recognition of indigenous people."

The expert panel of 19 indigenous leaders, politicians and legal minds travelled the country last year holding public meetings.

They presented their report to the federal government on Thursday, recommending inserting a new section (51A) to recognise that "the continent and its islands now known as Australia were first occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people".

The new section will also acknowledge the continuing relationship of indigenous people with their traditional lands and waters.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard told AAP changing the constitution would recognise the "unique and special place of Aboriginal people and strengthen the identity of our nation".