We Must Get Referendum Right: Liberal MP

We Must Get Referendum Right: Liberal MP
Aboriginal protesters conduct a traditional smoking ceremony at Town Hall during a protest march, Sydney, Australia, on June 6, 2020. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

A federal Liberal backbencher believes there should still be an ambition to hold a referendum in this term of parliament on recognising indigenous people, but says it is more important to get it right.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt said on June 12 while the Morrison government remains committed to a referendum, he conceded it is unlikely to happen until the next term of parliament.

“If we can do it this parliament, that would be a good thing and I think that we should still be ambitious in this regard,” Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman told ABC television on June 13.

“But, getting it right is the most important criteria as far as I’m concerned.”

He said months have been lost in the process of constitutional recognition due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Zimmerman said a two-stage process is in place, the first to pursue an indigenous voice to government

“There are three working groups working on that at the moment,” he said.

“I understand it’s Ken Wyatt’s intention to be able to take the recommendations to cabinet in November this year.”

Labor frontbencher Andrew Giles said the delayed referendum was “incredibly disappointing”, especially when there is such a focus on indigenous disadvantage.

“Progressing this issue, this fundamental question of who we are as a nation, is a question of leadership and commitment and we have not seen the leadership and the commitment from the prime minister that this issue warrants,” he told ABC television.

Colin Brinsden