Hanson’s advice sought on unlikely issue

SENATOR Pauline Hanson will be an unlikely sounding board for the Morrison Government as it seeks to get everyday Australians to back indigenous recognition in the Constitution within three years.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt yesterday unveiled plans to hold a $160 million referendum on constitutional recognition during this term of Parliament.

Senator Hanson and Mr Wyatt have a strong respect for each other and the Minister vowed to speak with the Queensland MP as he seeks to bring all Australians on board.

"What's great about Australia is our democratic process allows us to have diverse and very strong views," Mr Wyatt told the National Press Club.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt revealed plans at the National Press Club to hold a referendum on indigenous constitutional recognition within this term of Parliament. Picture: Kym Smith
Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt revealed plans at the National Press Club to hold a referendum on indigenous constitutional recognition within this term of Parliament. Picture: Kym Smith

"I admire Pauline for what she does and I have good meetings with her. We don't always see eye-to-eye on things, but I will certainly be involving Pauline in discussions I have as we move forward in the future."

Senator Hanson told The Courier-Mail she was happy to speak with the Minister any time - but she remained opposed to his plans.

"I've made my position quite clear on that. I do not believe we should recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as traditional owners of this land," she said. "I believe it will open up a can of worms.

"Does it jeopardise the freehold ownership of every Australian in this country? They can't guarantee me that it won't.

"If we want to get rid of racism in this country, you treat everyone on an individual needs basis, not based on race."

Senator Pauline Hanson says she is happy to meet with Ken Wyatt to discuss indigenous constitutional recognition, but remains opposed. Picture: Tricia Watkinson
Senator Pauline Hanson says she is happy to meet with Ken Wyatt to discuss indigenous constitutional recognition, but remains opposed. Picture: Tricia Watkinson

Senator Hanson has recently returned from a trip to Cape York and said she would continue to visit the area or the Torres Strait at least once a year.

Mr Wyatt said he wanted to continue to meet with Senator Hanson and discuss what was emerging as he consulted on how constitutional recognition could take place.

"People will react if they don't know the detail. That's why I want to co-design so people know what the detail is," he said.

"Often when we're uncertain and unsure, we take a stance that is quite strong... often ill-informed and not listening to the total context."

He said he wanted to take time to consult and build a consensus across the majority of Australians.

Labor's indigenous Australians spokeswoman Linda Burney said she would co-operate, but there will be points of difference.

"I would say to Ken that we may not get a consensus from everyone on this, and I'm not sure that a consensus is possible… you do the right thing by as many people as possible," she said.