Wyatt gauges MPs on indigenous recognition

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt says he and the PM are looking for pragmatic approaches.
Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt says he and the PM are looking for pragmatic approaches.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt says he is consulting MPs to gauge their support for constitutional recognition for Aboriginal people.

Mr Wyatt, who is indigenous, is attending the Aboriginal Garma Festival in Arnhem Land for the first time since being appointed to the ministry.

He recently promised to take Australians to a referendum on constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians, which was part of the Uluru statement.

He described this recognition as too important and critical to fail, and conversations with people who needed clarity on the issue were crucial to breaking down barriers.

"I need to know who are our strong supporters, who are the people who want clarity and the people who will indicate that they don't support it," he told reporters.

"I want constitutional recognition to be the topic around kitchen tables, barbecues and at the local pub and wherever.

"Where people say, no this is the right and fair thing to do, that this is not a third chamber (in parliament). This is about recognising the place of indigenous Australians in our history and on our birth certificate."

He insisted Prime Minister Scott Morrison supported recognition despite ruling out a constitutionally entrenched voice in parliament.

"He's committed to seeing a difference made in respect to this issue otherwise he would not have put it back on the agenda, now would he have had it as a pre-election commitment," he said.

"The Prime Minister and I are walking together on this but we also want pragmatic approaches that are real and meaningful, that we can win on."

Indigenous opposition frontbenchers Pat Dodson and Linda Burney said this week they doubted the PM's commitment to recognising indigenous people given he opposed the voice in parliament.

Australian Associated Press