Calls to disband Recognise campaign

Aboriginal Australia's rejection of symbolic constitutional recognition has raised questions over the future of the Recognise campaign, with calls to end it.

There are calls for the Recognise campaign to be shut down after Aboriginal Australia abandoned constitutional recognition in favour of a voice in parliament and a treaty.

A symbolic acknowledgement in the nation's founding document was rejected at a national indigenous summit at Uluru on Friday.

The Referendum Council will instead push for bold structural reform when it presents a report to both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on June 30.

That's raised serious questions over the future of Recognise, the government-sponsored marketing campaign that has received millions of dollars in funding since 2012 to build community support for the cause.

Recognise has enlisted high profile Aboriginal ambassadors including Adam Goodes, while footy clubs and companies from BHP to Qantas have gotten on board, with the national carrier painting the huge 'R' logo on one of its planes.

National Tertiary Education Union National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Coordinator Adam Frogley says that's mostly been a waste and is demanding Recognise be disbanded.

"What is Recognise going to sell now? A lot of the (indigenous) community already distrusts that 'R' symbol," he told AAP.

"The campaign is over and done with as far as I'm concerned."

Recognise, which is a part of Reconciliation Australia, says the Uluru proposals are designed to secure both recognition and provide a counter to the discriminatory elements in the constitution - principles its campaign has always focused on.

Reconciliation Australia Co-Chair Tom Calma says taking recognition off the table was a "missed opportunity", but insists the idea isn't dead yet.

He noted the Uluru gathering was just one of a number of contributing voices to the whole debate, and says a treaty and constitutional recognition can still coexist.

Mr Turnbull on Saturday warned "controversial" changes to the constitution have little hope of succeeding, while Mr Shorten said there was "a sincere desire for bipartisanship" on the referendum issue.

Federal minister Ken Wyatt has cautioned his indigenous compatriots that the government must balance their aspirations against what the general population can accept, adding only eight out of 44 Australian referendums have succeeded since 1901.

But Cape York indigenous leader Noel Pearson slammed "low value pragmatism", saying the right political leadership can capitalise on a groundswell of public willingness for change.

"I've found more substantial bright lights of support on the conservative end. I actually think it's the sagging, timid middle that is our greatest challenge," he said.

Mr Pearson is confident a referendum can be won within the next year, and says politicians can't waste any more time in closing the gap of Aboriginal disadvantage.

Former prime minister John Howard first committed to a recognition referendum a decade ago, and it was previously hoped the vote would be held on Saturday, the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking 1967 vote that included Aboriginal Australians in the census.

3 min read
Published 29 May 2017 at 12:16pm
Source: AAP