• Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the welcome to country ceremony outside Parlaiment House in Canberra. (AAP)
The PM and opposition leader have pledges to cooperate with each other and with their Indigenous colleagues to bring about constitutional recognition.
By
Shahni Wellington

Source:
NITV News
2 Jul 2019 - 4:30 PM  UPDATED 2 Jul 2019 - 4:30 PM

Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese have promised to work together on constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians as the new term of parliament begins.

The prime minister and opposition leader shook hands, posed for photos and shared what appeared to be a friendly chat before taking their seats for a welcome-to-country ceremony.

Several Indigenous MPs and senators - including Ken Wyatt and Linda Burney  - watched from the front row as Ngunnawal Elder Tina Brown led the welcome.

She stressed the need for the nation's policymakers to get things done.

"Our nation needs to create solutions, drawing on the wisdom of the ancient Australia and the wisdom of the modern Australia," Aunty Tina said.

Mr Morrison and Mr Albanese both acknowledged that such a welcome hasn't always occurred.

Wiradjuri men Jimmy Clements and John Noble were the only Indigenous people to attend the formal opening of Old Parliament House in 1927.

Both men arrived uninvited for the opening of the new federal parliament there after walking more than 150km to Canberra.

Police tried attempted to evict Clements, who was known as “King Billy”, but Mr Morrison said that something incredible happened.

"The crowd, Australians, took King Billy's side. They called on him to stand his ground. He did."

Now work towards further reconciliation looms as pivotal for the nation’s political leaders.

The prime minister said all Australians, Indigenous or not, were now walking together, "towards reconciliation, towards equal opportunities",

But the prime minister has said that stopping Australia's young Indigenous people from killing themselves is a higher priority than constitutional change.

However, his government has committed $7.3 million in the budget to design options for a Voice to Parliament, saying it would hold a referendum once the model was settled.

Mr Albanese told the welcome to country ceremony that Indigenous recognition is the first agenda on which parliament needs to co-operate.

"We will work with you. This thing can be done," he said in remarks addressed to the PM.

"We have been welcomed to this country today in such a generous spirit by such a hopeful heart and we should respond with courage, with kindness and with determination.

"Forty-five times we have opened the parliament in this country without a voice to parliament for the first nations of this great land. This 46th parliament should be the last time in which we do that."

With AAP