The Prime Minister chose the 49th anniversary of the successful 1967 referendum to unveil some new election pledges for Indigenous entrepreneurs.
As he wove Indigenous businesses and “jobs and growth” together in his election narrative, he also said there would be a referendum next year.
“We have real jobs, real economic growth, real economic advancement, supporting Indigenous Australians and to do this, we announced this on the 49th anniversary of the '67 referendum,” Malcolm Turnbull said of the Government’s $115 million Indigenous jobs package.
“As we look forward to the referendum on recognition next year, we look forward to further steps, strong commitment, practical, hard work commitment towards reconciliation and advancement, economic empowerment, those are the paving stones on the road to a better future for all Australians.”
Malcolm Turnbull and his predecessor, Tony Abbott, have both indicated their willingness to see a referendum to change the Constitution to acknowledge Indigenous people on May 27, 2017.
It would be the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum, which included Aboriginal people in population counts and allowed the Commonwealth to make special laws for them.
In an interview with NITV earlier this year, Malcolm Turnbull said a referendum next year is “feasible”.
The Prime Minister’s Referendum Council, advising the government on strategies to Constitutional change, will shortly begin community consultations on the roadmap to recognition.
No timetable beyond the Indigenous community consultations and non-Indigenous meetings is known.
When asked by NITV if the referendum was locked in for next year, the Prime Minister’s Office gave no comment and provided no clarification on what Malcolm Turnbull meant.