Anthony Albanese ‘worried’ by progress on constitutional Indigenous recognition

Anthony Albanese ‘worried’ by progress on constitutional Indigenous recognition



Labor has urged the Morrison government not to let the coronavirus stand in the way of a referendum on recognising Indigenous people in the constitution.

The federal opposition argues the coalition was already behind schedule on key reforms before the disease took centre stage.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese says he was concerned about the progress of the proposal before the back-to-back crises of bushfires and coronavirus.

“I’m worried the government was essentially inert prior to the bushfires and prior to the coronavirus crisis,” he told AAP on Thursday, the second day of National Reconciliation Week.

“In terms of reconciliation, they had said we could expect something by the end of last year in terms of a proposal.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said earlier in the week a referendum would hinge on an agreement over the model, as he confirmed other key reforms were shelved due to the coronavirus.

“The timetable for that will depend on when and if that sort of consensus is able to be achieved for it to be successful,” he told the National Press Club.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt wanted a referendum by mid-2021, but later called the target aspirational.

Mr Albanese lamented the lack of progress on reconciliation two decades after a landmark report was handed to the Howard government.

“We’ve waited a long time. Twenty years on, there hasn’t been enough progress at all,” he said.

Mr Morrison also confirmed a federal anti-corruption commission and religious freedom legislation had been put on hold because of the global pandemic.

“It’s not something the cabinet has considered now for some time,” he said.

Mr Albanese accused the coalition of putting issues in the “too hard basket”.

“The story of this government is a story of delays and occupying the space rather than promoting a reform agenda,” he said.

He said there was still no exposure draft legislation for the federal corruption watchdog, which was announced in 2018.



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