PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 41101

Doorstop at Garma 2017

Photo of Turnbull, Malcolm

Turnbull, Malcolm

Period of Service: 15/09/2015 to 24/08/2018

More information about Turnbull, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 05/08/2017

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 41101

Subject(s): Indigenous recognition in the Constitution

Location: Arnhem Land, NT

PRIME MINISTER: We’ve had some great discussions here at Garma. Learning a lot, doing a lot of listening and quite a bit of talking as you’ve heard but also plenty of listening. I want to thank again Galarrwuy Yunupingu in particular for the welcome that he’s given us here and his family and the Gumatj people here. It’s been fantastic.

So thank you for that.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, can I just ask – do you personally support the idea of an Indigenous voice in the Constitution?

PRIME MINISTER: We understand the cry from the heart that came from Uluru. It was, as I said in my remarks, it is a serious proposal that we will consider seriously and we’re going to thoughtfully and respectfully consider it.

Changing the Constitution is a very big challenge and I won’t give my speech again, but you can understand we’re taking this serious proposal very seriously indeed.

JOURNALIST: Will you commit to a Joint Parliamentary Committee?

PRIME MINISTER: We will consider the matter carefully through our own Cabinet process. This is a, as I said, we were presented with the report on the 30th of June. We met with the Referendum Council two weeks ago. And it will be coming to our Cabinet and we will be discussing it with our colleagues shortly.

JOURNALIST: The Opposition Leader has said that he could commit to a referendum question by the end of the year. Do you think that timeline is realistic?

PRIME MINISTER: History would suggest that is very ambitious. Again, changing the Constitution is very challenging. I talked about the Republic Referendum in ’99 – remember there was another proposition in that referendum which was supported by all political parties, which got an even lower vote. So as I said bipartisanship is a necessary condition but it is far from being a sufficient one.

Also it is very important to look at the success of the most successful referendum in 1967 where there was, it was well understood, it was clear, it was simple, it was precise. Precision and clarity, simplicity are your friends when you’re proposing changes to the Australian Constitution. But above all you need to have overwhelming support, overwhelming support for it.

So there is a lot of work to be done. There has been a great deal of work as a number of the speakers have observed on recognition and removing racially discriminatory language from the Constitution, recognising our First Australians in the Constitution. The voice proposal is not without precedent or therefore new in that respect but it is a relatively new proposal in the context of this debate.

Again, there is, this process of Makarrata, and it is a process, it is a process – this is going to take some time.

If you want to be successful, if you want to achieve, if you want to listen and feel the cry from the heart from Uluru and respond to it, effectively and positively as leaders should with the responsibility and respect that cry deserves, then it will be undertaken, our response will be undertaken with great care and great deliberation.

JOURNALIST: Will you commit, Prime Minister, to build that support for an Indigenous voice to Parliament? You say it has to have overwhelming support. You’re the Prime Minister, with respect. Galarrwuy Yunupingu says he has trust in you, he’s convinced the other Indigenous leadership to trust in you. So can they trust in you to build that support overwhelmingly with the public?

PRIME MINISTER:Everyone here and every Australian can trust in me to lead Australia in the national interest, to remember that we represent all of us, 24 million Australians -

JOURNALIST: But I asked you about the Indigenous voice.

PRIME MINISTER: And recognize, and recognise that as we respond to this proposal we must do so in a way that respects the seriousness of what is proposed and the care with which it should be addressed – the statement from Uluru is a statement from the heart. As I said in my remarks, it is a piece of poetry. The challenge now is turning it into prose.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, don’t you think our elders and First Nations people around the country have waited long enough? You said you’re going to consider these recommendations – how much longer is it going to take? They want action and a response.

PRIME MINISTER: We’ve had them for about a month. So serious proposals deserve serious consideration and serious consultation. There is a great diversity of views as you know from Indigenous Australians and indeed from all Australians. So serious proposals deserve serious consideration and that is what my government will do.

Thank you all very much.  

Transcript 41101