Abbott cools recognition vow (The Australian)

11 Aug Abbott cools recognition vow (The Australian)

TONY Abbott has contradicted his indigenous spokesman’s vow to take a referendum on the recognition of Aborigines to the people in 2013.

The Opposition Leader argued that time should be taken to get it right. He said the Coalition supported amendments to the Constitution to formally recognise indigenous people but the issue should not be rushed.

The Coalition’s indigenous affairs spokesman, Nigel Scullion, yesterday denied he had been slapped down by Mr Abbott, and repeated that he hoped the referendum would take place in 2013.

The Opposition Leader was less enthusiastic about a tight timeline.

Mr Abbott has given bipartisan support to a referendum, which Labor committed to earlier in the week as part of its effort to “close the gap” between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

But Mr Abbott said it was merely a reannouncement of a commitment Labor made in 2008 and did not act upon.

Former prime minister John Howard signalled support on the issue back in 2007, he said.

“It’s very important that we should appropriately acknowledge the place of indigenous people at the heart of modern Australia,” he said. “On the other hand, we’ve had a lot of symbolism over the past couple of years. … Go to article.