All sides of politics align for recognition of first peoples

THE Queensland Government has given "in principle" support to constitutional recognition of Australia's first peoples.

It now awaits the release of the draft wording of the changes, expected in September.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Glen Elmes said not a lot had been done right in the past 200 years, but the history of all Australians was in front of us.

"I hope people will be able to look back in 50 years' time and say that we have started to do a few things right,'' the Noosa MP said.

"Of course we still need to see the wording but the Prime Minister has said he wants to complete the job.

"My gut feeling is that support levels will match the 1967 referendum (to include Aborigines in the Census).

"I trust that the PM will have the right set of words and it should receive overwhelming support.''

Mr Elmes said constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders would go down very well in those communities and would lead to an improved sense of wellbeing and identity.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Australia Day committed to deliver by September draft wording for proposed recognition which he said would complete rather than change the Constitution.

He has the support of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Sunshine Coast lawyer Glenn Ferguson who was a member of an expert panel that looked into the issue, said he was convinced that, put to a vote, a referendum on constitutional recognition would get over the line.

"We need to educate people,'' he said. "It's too easy for people to just run negative arguments. The government has an obligation to sell the message.''


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