Canberra, June 1 (IANS) A referendum on constitutional recognition for the the indigenous people of Australia could be held by 2022, a Minister said on Monday.
Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous person to serve as the Minister for Indigenous Australians, told News Corp Australia that he was optimistic that a referendum would be held before the next general election in 2022 despite delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Xinhua news agency.
If successful, the referendum would change the wording of the Australian Constitution to recognize the indigenous people as the first inhabitants of the continent.
Wyatt acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic has had a “significant impact” on the referendum process but said it was still realistic within 18 months.
“If we have got the right set of words, then yes, it is feasible,” he said.
“I still remain optimistic. But part of the problem with constitutional questions is the education of the broader Australian public, preparing them for a yes vote. I would not want to see us go but then fail.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared his support for constitutional recognition but told the Parliament in February that the process could be delayed.
Wyatt also declared that an indigenous “voice to parliament”, an independent body that would advise governments on indigenous issues, would be established before the next election.