The re-elected coalition government should be pressured to create an Indigenous voice to parliament in the current political term, Labor Senator Pat Dodson says.
Former opposition leader Bill Shorten promised to make “the father of reconciliation” the Indigenous affairs minister if the Labor Party won the election.
After Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s surprise election victory, Mr Dodson was instead appointed shadow assistant minister for reconciliation and shadow assistant minister for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.
He has called for a bipartisan approach to advance the demands of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and vowed to work with Ken Wyatt - the newly appointed minister for Indigenous Australians.
“I think the Australian public are almost tired of this discussion and want to get on with it,” Mr Dodson told the Guardian Australia.
“I really do think we’ve got to put pressure on the government to get this matter done in the first term and work with Ken to achieve it, because if he can’t get it past the six or seven people on his frontbench, then the whole nation’s being held up because of their attitudes.”
The government has committed $7.3 million to develop a proposal to take to a referendum and Mr Wyatt has vowed to take “pragmatic action” while overseeing the portfolio.
“Our government is committed to recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in the constitution, while delivering critical, practical outcomes to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” he said last week in a statement.
“There needs to be more work done on what model we take to a referendum - which is why we are funding a consultation process with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.”
Linda Burney, the shadow minister for Indigenous Australians, has said that the Labor Party would welcome a bipartisan approach to address calls to establish and Indigenous voice to parliament.
“There will be areas that we don’t agree on and that’s the contest of ideas in the political democratic process," Ms Burney told SBS political reporter Nakari Thorpe.
"At the end of the day my job is to make sure we consult, we talk with Aboriginal people and people that are involved in delivering Aboriginal services.”