THE Deputy Prime Minister has warned against muddying the waters of the Aboriginal constitutional recognition debate, saying talk of a treaty won’t help the referendum get up.
While Barnaby Joyce said he “absolutely” supported the referendum, many in the local indigenous community see the move as largely symbolic and would rather push for a treaty with the government, which would deliver tangible outcomes.
The government has indicated a referendum will be held on the matter next year, and Mr Joyce says everyone “has to be on the same page” for it to be successful.
“If we are here, there and everywhere with different ideas it won't get,” the New England MP said.
“If we start bringing new items onto the table, I'm scared we will lose the lot.
“I would say as a meagre piece of advice: pitch for something you can obtain, that we can get through and past the whole of the Australia people.”
Mr Joyce said prominent indigenous leader Warren Mundine, who sits on the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council, had “said exactly the same thing”.
Mr Mundine supports both constitutional recognition and a treaty.
"I believe they're complementary of each other — we can chew gum and breathe at the same time," Mr Mundine said in June.
The Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion, has also indicated says Parliament should consider a treaty if it is recommended by the recognition referendum council, the body charged with leading the national conversation surrounding the issue.
The Leader asked Mr Joyce if constitutional recognition could be followed by a treaty, but he appeared unwilling to commit to a treaty.
"If you start making the discussion bigger than it is, we're going to get a whole bunch of hairs running that might work against getting constitutional recognition issue up – that would be terrible day,” Mr Joyce said.
“I'd rather pitch for what we can obtain, then fight for something and lose the lot.
“Constitutional recognition is something we've all put our shoulders too. Let's all fight together to achieve it.”
I would say as a meagre piece of advice: pitch for something you can obtain.Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce