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Malcolm Turnbull And Bill Shorten Join In The Long Walk For Indigenous Reconciliation

The Long Walk kick-started the AFL's flagship 'Dreamtime at the 'G' match.

28/05/2016 6:59 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST
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Malcom Turnbull and Bill Shorten joined former Bombers legend Michael Long for The Long Walk.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have put politics aside and converged in Melbourne to participate in the Long Walk, an annual AFL march for indigenous reconciliation.

The leaders walked alongside Bombers legend Michael Long ahead of the 'Dreamtime at the 'G' flagship game between Essendon and Richmond, to kick off the league's Indigenous round.

"Until this country can secure equal treatment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we cannot truly celebrate."

It was Mr Turnbull's first walk as Prime Minister, with wife Lucy by his side.

In a speech ahead of the walk, Long said it was time to get history right.

"Constitutional recognition must occur," he told an audience at Federation Square.

"It's time for a treaty."

Turnbull responded, promising a further 39,000 full-time jobs for Indigenous Australians and voicing his government's $115 million commitment to support jobs and entrepreneurship.

"Every measure, every element of our policy is focused on that reconciliation," he said.

"Everything we do, in health, education or -- as it was this week, talking about entrepreneurship and supporting the innovators among Indigenous Australians -- is about economic empowerment, reconciliation... and walking together."

Opposition leader Bill Shorten cited reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians as "unfinished business".

"Until this country can secure equal treatment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we cannot truly celebrate," he said.

"What I promise is that I will dedicate myself to the proposition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people deserve to have the same outcomes as every other Australian."

Essendon legend Michael Long first made the walk from Melbourne to Canberra in 2004 to meet with then Prime Minister John Howard and lobby for indigenous reconciliation.

He rallied walkers from Federation Square on Saturday afternoon as they met the nation's leaders en route to the MCG.

The walk follows a moment of unity on the campaign trail today, as both leaders agreed that racism persists in Australia and more work needs to be done.

On Friday night at a Reconciliation Week dinner, Mr Shorten said that "systemic racism is still far too prevalent".

"The insidious nature of stubborn racism is still a reality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals -- regardless of the status and stature they achieve in our society," he said.

Mr Turnbull responded on Saturday, citing reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people as a "work in progress".

"If you talk about Australia as a whole, are we free entirely from racism? Clearly not," he told reporters whilst campaigning in his own seat of Wentworth.

But conservative Liberal Senator Cormann described this as a "very negative view of Australia".

"Yes, of course, there are issues from time to time that need to be addressed, but to make a blanket negative statement is very disappointing," he said.

"Australia is a great country, a great multicultural country."

The flagship game between Essendon and Richmond at the MCG is set to kick off at 7:25pm tonight.

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