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Aus PM vows referendum to recognise Aboriginals

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Wednesday used the 50th anniversary of the indigenous land rights movement to pledge a referendum on recognising the country’s Aborigines in the constitution if Labor is re-elected.

His predecessor Julia Gillard shelved a plan to hold a vote this parliamentary term, citing low public support, but Rudd made clear that recognition of Aboriginal people as the country’s first inhabitants was a priority.

‘I therefore, as prime minister, want to see this matter brought to the people of Australia by referendum within two years of the election of the next parliament,’ he said, with national polls scheduled for later this year.

Rudd said he wanted to work with the conservative Tony Abbott-led opposition to draft an appropriate question. ‘I want us to agree on the question to be put to the Australian people,’ he told reporters.

‘No more delays, no more excuses, no more buck-passing. It’s time the nation got on with this business. That is my commitment to you.’Any change to Australia’s constitution must be approved by a national referendum in which all citizens vote, and such ballots typically have low levels of success.
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