Recognise, republic, marriage equality take centre stage in Canberra

Indigenous Leader Noel Pearson is the latest to add his voice, re-affirming his commitment to Indigenous constitutional recognition.



But saying it must come before a Republic referendum or risk being pushed aside.


It’s the beginning of another federal election year – but Australians might have to vote three more times in the coming years.


Indigenous leader Noel Pearson spoke at the National Press Club today (weds) in Canberra and he’s warning the push for recognition of Indigenous people in the constitution must come before the push for a republic.


“I remain agnostic about the question of the Republic. I think the important question of indigenous recognition should be the first cab off the rank and the question of whether Australia should become a Republic should be a subsequent and different question”


Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is a supporter of both the recognise campaign and the Australian Republican Movement and says the two campaigns can run concurrently.


“Constitutional recognition of our first Australians is an overdue righting of a wrong. Indigenous Australians deserve to be on the national Constitution. It is like our national birth certificate. But there is nothing to stop the process for debating the modelling of what a republic looks like to engage the Australian public”


The Opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen says Australians who want the change to happen have to move now.


“For the first time we have a PM and an OL (opposition leader) who believe in a republic. Let’s make it happen”


While there’s agreement on the order in which they should take – there’s a division happening within the anti-republic movement.


Neil James is from the Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy group.


He claims a rival organisation – the Australian Monarchist League – is more focused on the celebrity of the royal family.


And not the nuts and bolts of the constitutional change.


“Only Australians of a constitutional monarchy are actually capable of arguing for the existing constitutional system at an intellectual level. And I think most people realise that and I think that’s probably why biased parts of the press keep going to the Monarchist League instead”


The other question that will be put to the Australian public is a plebiscite on gay marriage.


The latest polls show an overwhelming percentage of Australians support marriage equality, but there are some within the Liberal Party who are reluctant to change.


Greens Leader, Senator Richard DiNatale says a national vote is waste of time if there are some in the coalition who won’t be bound.


“Some of whom are now saying they won’t honour the outcome of a plebiscite. Eric Abetz today saying that he won’t be bound by the result of a plebiscite on marriage equality so what’s the point”


So far, the Prime Minister hasn’t set a date for any of the votes to be held on.