• Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Close the Gap 10th Anniversary Parliamentary Breakfast on February 10, 2016. (AAP)Source: AAP
In the first interview a Coalition Prime Minister has ever given to NITV, Malcolm Turnbull has outlined his agenda for Indigenous affairs.
By
Myles Morgan

29 Feb 2016 - 3:39 PM  UPDATED 29 Feb 2016 - 10:58 PM

In a wide-ranging and at times emotional interview, which was also the first instance of Mr Turnbull opening the Lodge to the media for a one-on-one, the Prime Minister spoke about Indigenous incarceration rates, education outcomes and Constitutional Recognition.

Here is a summary of his comments on some of the biggest issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

On Constitutional Recognition

"Whatever amendment that is proposed has to be one that is seen to come from, have the support of, and move, in the sense of sing to, Indigenous Australians."

"The problem with changing the Australian Constitution is that the Australian electorate is very conservative with the Constitution and I think that's partly because of compulsory voting. People who aren't familiar with the question or haven't read much about it are much more likely to vote 'no'."

"It is complex and I believe a referendum next year is certainly feasible but we have to get that agreement and we will need overwhelming support for it to be carried."

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On incarceration rates

Indigenous Australians constitute 30 per cent of the prison population and only three per cent of Australia’s population, a statistic "that is totally unacceptable," said the Prime Minister.

"There is a crisis to be addressed and the critical thing is to break the cycle of incarceration."

"It is a failure across the board and I think it's in large part because Aboriginal people are not enjoying the economic opportunities or taking advantage of the economic opportunities that they need." 

'Every Prime Minister is a Prime Minister for Indigenous affairs, a Prime Minister for all Australians.'

On being a Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs

"Every Prime Minister is a Prime Minister for Indigenous affairs, a Prime Minister for all Australians."

"Every Minister, every Assistant Minister, every departmental secretary, should have in their minds how their programs are affecting, supporting, promoting, Indigenous Australians. Because we do have that obligation, the challenges are complex but they are all connected."

On the question of a silver bullet

"One of the reasons there's been so much disappointment in terms of the outcomes of policy here is because everyone has been searching for the one big, sweeping answer and the answers are as they are for everybody: education, work, economic opportunities, enabling people to get on with their own lives."

"There is a clear goal and that goal is to close that gap so as to ensure that an Indigenous boy or girl will look at themselves in the mirror and say 'I can do anything. There is nothing in Australia that I cannot aspire to'."

On remote and urban communities

"The remote communities represent some of the biggest challenges in Indigenous affairs and I am completely committed to working with my colleagues but, above all, Indigenous Australians to resolve them."

"I think it’s important that we recognise that Indigenous experience is much broader than that. So, one of the first visits I made to an Indigenous community as Prime Minister was to La Perouse [in Sydney]."

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