Indigenous Australians warned to lower expectations on recognition (The Australian)

05 Jan Indigenous Australians warned to lower expectations on recognition (The Australian)

INDIGENOUS people have been told to pare back expectations when the nation votes on whether to recognise Aborigines in the Constitution.

If not, there is a risk that the referendum will fail.

The warning comes from Mark Leibler, co-chairman of a panel appointed by the Gillard government to examine the issue, who also said politicians would have to compromise to get the referendum across the line.

In his first public comments since being appointed to chair the panel with Pat Dodson, the man often described as the father of reconciliation, Mr Leibler told The Australian yesterday there were very different views on what the referendum should do and its success could be achieved only by substantial compromise.

Former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission chairwoman Lowitja O’Donoghue has declared indigenous Australians must be recognised in the body of the Constitution and not mentioned tokenistically in the preamble, while another Aboriginal leader, Marcia Langton, who is also on the panel, called for greater recognition than just inserting something “light” in the preamble.

Mr Leibler is a prominent leader of the Australian and international Jewish community and since 2005 has been the co-chair of Reconciliation Australia.

“I think this referendum is important in terms of moving forward with unfinished business,” he said. “What is absolutely critical is that everyone is not going to get everything they want. There has to be an element of give and take in all of that. What I’m looking for is what I describe as meaningful constitutional reform.” …Go to article.