• NITV's Stan Grant with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
EXCLUSIVE | It's the first time that the Prime Minister has accepted an interview at the residence - and one that left him in tears.
Stan Grant

28 Feb 2016 - 7:47 PM  UPDATED 29 Feb 2016 - 1:45 PM

I am looking at the Prime Minister and there are tears in his eyes. He is recalling an old recording of a lullaby sung in the Ngunawal language. This is the language Malcolm Turnbull spoke in the parliament as part of his closing the gap speech earlier this month.

Never before had an Indigenous language been spoken in our Federal Parliament, now the Prime Minister was giving voice to tens of thousands of years of tradition. These things matter to Malcolm Turnbull: language matters; story matters.

Now he is wiping away a tear imagining a time when this language was widely spoken. He can picture the lady and her child, that moment, he said, when the child would have last felt truly safe.

The Prime Minister wants to respect and acknowledge Indigenous peoples and culture, it is essential he says to ending generations of disadvantage. In his speech he spoke of respect, of rescuing hope from despair, and of speaking with - not to - Indigenous communities.

Malcolm Turnbull has invited NITV to the Lodge - the Prime Ministerial residence in Canberra - for a wide-ranging interview for the first episode of The Point.

Like his predecessor Tony Abbott he wants to be known as the Prime Minister for Indigenous people, just as, he says, he is Prime Minister for all Australians. But he won't commit to continuing Mr Abbott's tradition of spending a week each year in an Indigenous community.

What he will commit to is talking with Indigenous people, trying to find solutions to chronic disparities in health, housing, employment, and education. He wants to break the cycle of black imprisonment - a quarter of the jail population - and create pathways from prison to work.

He speaks a lot about hope. He wants to celebrate success and promote innovation and entrepreneurship. But the reality of black lives often mocks optimism.

In a country where Indigenous people die ten years younger than other Australians, hope has often not been enough.

The Prime Minister acknowledges there is no 'magic bullet', he says there is no one policy solution. He says employment and education feed into empowered communities. But he stresses there is no single Indigenous community, there needs to be a focus in remote and regional Australia as equally as urban Australia.

He would like to be able to bring the country together around Indigenous recognition in the constitution and hopefully by 2017, but he says there needs to be a referendum question Indigenous people agree on, and the rest of the country can support.

Malcolm Turnbull is being criticised for not taking tough decisions, for being reluctant to spend his political capital. He has backed away from a potential rise in the GST. The Government's popularity has dropped in recent polls. He rejects the criticism. He says he is focused on making the right decisions not the quickest.

For Indigenous people dealing with a legacy of policy failure this is critical. The Prime Minister has spoken Indigenous language, he has shed a tear over our past, now words and empathy must be measured by action.

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