Amendments to the Australian constitution to recognise Aborigines will be put to a referendum under a re-elected Labor government, Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says.
Source:
SBS
9 Aug 2010 - 12:09 PM  UPDATED 23 Aug 2013 - 2:09 PM

Amendments to the Australian constitution to recognise Aborigines will be put to a referendum under a re-elected Labor government, Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says.

Ms Macklin said constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders would be an important step in strengthening the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians and building trust.

Ms Macklin who was in Nhulunbuy in Arnhem Land on Sunday to release the government's Closing The Gap policy said an expert panel would establish how the constitution should be amended.

"If constitutional change is going to happen it needs to have very broad community support," she told reporters.

"We all do need to recognise how few referenda have been successful in Australia, just eight of 44 since Federation, if a referenda on the recognition of indigenous peoples in the constitution is to be successful, it will need to gather community support."

She said former prime minister Kevin Rudd, as well as the coalition's former prime minister John Howard, had been in favour of reform, and she was seeking bipartisan support from opposition
leader Tony Abbott.

Ms Macklin denied the announcement was being made off the back of criticism that both Labor and Liberal parties had neglected to address indigenous disadvantage during the election campaign.

Until the announcement, both major parties had kept quiet on the issue of Indigenous Affairs, with the Coalition yet to release their policies on the issue.

The Greens have released a plan to tackle Indigenous hearing problems, by increasing hearing screenings, and boosting training for teachers dealing with hearing-impaired children.

They also want to make changes to Medicare to allow ear health specialists to receive public funding for health services.

Member for Lingiari, Indigenous Health Minister Warren Snowdon, whose electorate includes Arnhem Land on Saturday unveiled a new mobile renal service for the Northern Territory.

The bus will enable people needing dialysis on a regular basis to attend funerals and festivals in their home community, many for the first time since they became ill.