Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has told a Reconciliation event he is committed to following the lead of Indigenous people, less than a year after rejecting their call for an enshrined voice in parliament.
After Premier Daniel Andrews spoke of his government’s efforts to create a state Treaty at the Long Walk event at Melbourne’s Federation Square, Mr Turnbull said the two leaders were “starting to agree on more things all the time”.
“What you said about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advancement being led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is absolutely right,” Mr Turnbull said.
“The great Australian Chris Sarra said very wisely…governments have got to stop doing things to Aboriginal people and start doing things with them and that is my commitment.”
Mr Andrews and Mr Turnbull then led The Long Walk alongside Olympic gold medallist Nova Peris and former AFL player Che Cockatoo-Collins, who were filling in for Essendon legend Michael Long.
The walk commemorates Mr Long’s historic 2004 trek from Melbourne to Canberra to lobby prime minister John Howard for Indigenous issues to be put on the national agenda.
Mr Long could not make Saturday’s walk before the Dreamtime at the G match between Essendon and Richmond due to illness.
“Michael set out not because of himself (but because) at the time, (there was) political uncertainty and Aboriginal people and issues were not taken into consideration,” Mr Cockatoo-Collins said.
During a summit at Uluru in May 2017, Indigenous leaders rejected symbolic constitutional recognition in favour of an elected parliamentary advisory body and a treaty.
But in October, Mr Turnbull said a new representative body was not desirable or capable of winning acceptance at a referendum.
Victoria, however, is working towards a Treaty and the legislation is sitting in parliament awaiting debate.
“Whilst in some respects we have come a long way, there is still so much more that we need to do to pursue and deliver reconciliation, justice and proper self-determination for Aboriginal Victorians and Aboriginal Australians,” Mr Andrews said.