Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said that he was ready to “sweat blood” to hold a referendum in 2017 on constitutional recognition for indigenous people, according to Australian media reports.
At a fundraising dinner for the RECOGNISE campaign for indigenous people on Thursday, he said he would like the referendum on whether to recognise indigenous people in the constitution to happen on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum, Australia’s ABC network reported.
In the 1967 referendum, provisions which prevented the government from making laws for indigenous Aborigines and which excluded them from being counted in the census, were removed from the constitution.
“I hope that it might happen on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum, May 27, 2017. That would be a richly symbolic time to complete our constitution,” Abbott told the guests at the dinner in question on Thursday.
He said: “But I do not want it to fail because every Australian would be the loser. It is more important to get this right than to try to rush it through. We will get constitutional recognition and, when it comes, I suspect that it will take the form of a pact, a heartfelt pact between indigenous people and conservative Australia.”