Ab­bott re­veals plans to move Gov­ern­ment to FNQ

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - JES­SICA MARSZALEK

TONY Ab­bott has vowed to lead a na­tional con­ver­sa­tion on in­dige­nous recog­ni­tion in the Con­sti­tu­tion as prepa­ra­tions be­gin to make the Tor­res Strait and Cape York the coun­try’s tem­po­rary cen­tre of power later this year.

The Prime Min­is­ter last night an­nounced his in­ten­tion to base him­self and some min­is­te­rial col­leagues in Queens­land’s Far North for a week in Au­gust un­der his pre- elec­tion pledge to gov­ern the coun­try each year from a re­mote in­dige­nous com­mu­nity.

It will be the first visit to the re­gion by a PM for some time.

The news comes as Mr Ab­bott and Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten to­day host 40 of the coun­try’s in­dige­nous lead­ers in Syd­ney to thrash out the next move in a bi­par­ti­san push for con­sti­tu­tional change.

The word­ing of a ques­tion to be put to Aus­tralians in a ref­er­en­dum will be dis­cussed as well as which parts of the his­toric doc­u­ment should change, with the Con­sti­tu­tion cur­rently hav­ing out­dated pro­vi­sions such as the abil­ity to ban peo­ple from vot­ing at state elec­tions based on race.

Mr Ab­bott and Mr Shorten last night met with lead­ers at a re­cep­tion ahead of talks.

“Our task – our mis­sion, if you like – is to cor­rect the great si­lence in our Con­sti­tu­tion,” Mr Ab­bott told those gath­ered.

“Not ev­ery­one is as pas­sion­ate as we are, not ev­ery­one is as in­formed as we are and our chal­lenge over com­ing months is to more broadly and more deeply en­gage the whole of the Aus­tralian com­mu­nity in this task.”

Mr Shorten called the meet­ing a “road map to recog­ni­tion” and said he did not want to go down the “smaller-tar­get path of mean­ing­less change” through “cos­metic tin­ker­ing” with the pre­am­ble.

Tony Ab­bott.

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