|Posted by gosfordpip on October 15, 2013 at 8:10 AM|
Abbott to complete constitutional journey of recognition for indigenous
STUART RINTOUL THE AUSTRALIAN MAY 26, 2013 1:16PM
THE long journey to the recognition of Aboriginal people in the Constitution has begun, with hundreds of people joining former AFL legend Michael Long to take the first symbolic steps along Melbourne's Yarra River.
Tony Abbott walked the first short leg and declared it was the beginning of an important journey.
With the bells of St Paul's Cathedral peeling in the background, he told the crowd, "Our forefathers have created one of the most magnificent countries on Earth, perhaps the most magnificent country on Earth, except in one respect - we have never properly acknowledged the first Australians.
"Aboriginal people were here in 1788, they are here 225 years later - 225 often difficult years later. Then, it was them and us. Today, it should be us and us.
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"The Aboriginal dimension is as much a part of Australia as our law, our language and our democracy. That is why it must finally be acknowledged in our national Constitution.
"I see acknowledging Aboriginal people in our Constitution not as changing it, but as completing it.
"I don't for a second underestimate the length of the journey, or the distractions there may be along the way. But it must be done, if we are to be whole as a people and as a nation."
To great applause, he said, "May the bells peel for a new Australia."
Actor Aaron Pedersen, calling Mr Abbott "Uncle Tony", read a message from Julia Gillard saying she looked forward "with all my heart" to the day when Aboriginal people would be recognised in the Constitution.
She said the Journey to Recognition, a national relay inspired by Long's walk to Canberra nine years ago, was an important grassroots campaign that would help build momentum for constitutional reform and would bring communities "the message that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history hold a unique and special place in our nation".