The Indigenous Advisory Council (IAC) has revealed it will be consulted and have the opportunity to provide input into any recommendations made by special envoy on Indigenous affairs Tony Abbott.
The council had sought clarification on the controversial appointment, and Thursday's first meeting with the new prime minister was an opportunity for Mr Abbott's role to be clearly articulated.
“It was made very clear to Mr Abbott that once he gets recommendations... it will come to the prime minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council to be consulted with us so we can get across the recommendations and provide a little bit more input into that,” council co-chair Roy Ah-See told NITV News.
“The prime minister gave a clear understanding that he is in full support of his Indigenous Advisory Council and that he is going to rely on our expert advice in relation to policy around Aboriginal affairs.”
However, with only half-an-hour with the prime minister, there was not time to discuss the role and other agenda items in much detail.
“It wasn’t a real lot of time to get down to the nitty gritty but I imagine future meetings there will be a bit more robust discussion with the prime minister,” Mr Ah-See said.
The meeting comes six weeks after Scott Morrison became prime minister and over a month since the appointment of Mr Abbott as special envoy. Mr Abbott was unable to attend.
“It was important that we got in the room with the prime minister to start that relationship and start a conversation and communication around the roles and responsibilities of the IAC,” Mr Ah-See said.
“I truly understand that the mob is frustrated out there but at the end of the day we need to form relationships so we can start to communicate back to the people we need to be giving advice to or taking advice from.”
The limited time with the prime minister meant issues, such as an Indigenous voice to parliament, were only briefly mentioned.
Mr Ah-See said the council had something to say about the prime minister’s suggestion of creating a new day to acknowledge Indigenous Australians - instead of moving the date of Australia Day from January 26.
“He’s keen to have a look at what brings Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people together as Australians so that we can look towards a brighter future for this country,” he said.
“We made it clear that it’s a day that needs to unite everybody and the prime minister was of that view, and again we have to continue that conversation around what projects or what will bring us together as Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.”