Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is pushing for a constitutional amendment to officially recognize indigenous communities. On Saturday, he proposed a specific question for a referendum needed to create a parliamentary committee to represent indigenous peoples’ interests.
After his election in May, Albanese had promised to hold this referendum within his term of office. It’s unclear exactly what the vote will look like, but bringing the draft referendum to Australian Indigenous leaders and the public is a first step. Australia’s indigenous people are not recognized as such in the country’s constitution.
Speaking at an Indigenous peoples festival in Arnhem Land, Albanese also reiterated his support for a declaration calling for more rights and constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians. The document was rejected in 2017 by the then conservative government.
However, this explanation does not go far enough, said the prime minister. It only provides that the indigenous people “are to be consulted on decisions that affect them”. But that is a general question of decency, “simple politeness”. Basically, the declaration is “an admission of centuries of failure”.