Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese is proposing a joint referendum to be held on a future Australia Day to deal with the republic question and Indigenous recognition.
29 Jan 2018 - 3:22 PM  UPDATED 30 Jan 2018 - 11:51 AM

Anthony Albanese has called for referendums on the republic and Indigenous constitutional recognition to be held on January 26, as a way of creating a national 'platform of unity' and ending divisons over the date of Australia Day. 

Mr Albanese, who raised the idea at a citizenship ceremony on Friday, told ABC Radio it's about looking for a solution. 

"The demonstrations, the conflicts over Australia Day were bigger than last year. Last year, the conflict was bigger than the year before," he said. 

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He said unless there is a way of moving the debate forward we will continue to have 'tired old arguments.'

"What that requires is for people to not have their party political logo on. What that requires is that people who are senior in politics, in civil society, Indigenous community to put forward ideas." 

While his calls seem to contradict Labor's policy on the issue, Mr Albanese said he had discussed the proposal with party colleagues and the community. 

"I very consciously made this address, as I do every Australia Day, to a ceremony in Enmore Park. I raise ideas with my local community," he said. 

"I don’t want this to be a party political debate. One of the problems with politics in this country is that Labor or the Coalition come up with an idea and immediately the other side of politics says no."

Mr Albanese said he raised the issue in the spirit of reconciliation. 

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"The spirit of how we engage in a way that addresses Australia Day being about, not just the past, but about the present the country that we are today and also the future,” he said. 

“This wasn’t a very party political position. This is a position put forward by myself, a number of people have contacted me to express support, some have expressed a lack of support, that's fine.”

"It means that we're acknowledging, yes this was the arrival of European settlement that led to all those millions of migrations, people that have come to make Australia the country that it is today. It is also about recognising the past and reconciliation." 

No resolution without Indigenous voice 

Mr Albanese said there can be no resolution of these issues without the input of First Australians. 

"Aboriginal people have determined for themselves what they want to see with the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and consistent with that of course is recognition in the Constitution," he said.  

"But more than that, Indigenous people want a voice. They don't want a third chamber of the parliament, that is being used as a way of knocking the idea - it's not that. But they do want a say and to be able to have their view heard." 

"Our Constitution is inadequate whilst it doesn’t recognise the First Australians.”  

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He said the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which was delivered to and effectively rejected by the Turnbull government last October, is more than just constitutional change.

"It’s about an ongoing voice and I think that is something that is worthy of discussion and debate,” Mr Albanese said. 

'Abolish Australia Day' 

While millions of Australians celebrated the landing of the First Fleet in 1788 on Friday, many others mobilised in capitial cities to protest the date of January 26. 

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But Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, the organisers of the largest Aboriginal rally staged since the 1970s land rights movement, have dismissed the campaign to change the date of Australia Day as a "feel good" gesture that would do nothing to address fundamental issues of Aboriginal rights. 

They say there is no right day to celebate genocide. 

The youth collective was attacked over the weekend after one its organisers called for Australia to be burnt to the ground during a speech at Melbourne's rally on Friday. 

Tarneen Onus-Williams has been told to stand down from the Koori Youth Council over her comments where she told the crowd at the front of Parliament House, "We have not organised this to change the date. We have organised this to abolish Australia Day because f..k Australia. F..k Australia, I hope it f..king burns to the ground," she said. 

Ms Onus-Williams stood by her comments saying they were intended methaporically rather than literally. 

"It was a metaphor, not actually a statement to be taken literally. I just want everything, all the governments to fall apart, because our people are dying and nobody cares and the whole system needs to change. The leaders of this country continue to ignore and oppress us. I am sick of our people getting locked up and dying in custody, of our young people suiciding,” she told Fairfax Media. 

- with AAP