POLITICS

Shorten: 2017 Is The Year For Indigenous Recognition

The Labor Leader wants constitutional recognition this year and reparation for the stolen generations

14/02/2017 2:27 PM AEDT | Updated 14/02/2017 3:09 PM AEDT
Andrew Meares/Fairfax
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten: "This is the right thing to do."

CANBERRA -- Soon after a "saddened and disappointed" Malcolm Turnbull handed down the latest damning Closing the Gap report, the Opposition Leader stood up to spur on Indigenous recognition and reparation.

In the wake of the nine year anniversary of the national apology to the Stolen Generations, Bill Shorten has told parliament "decency" demanded the commonwealth to take the lead on reparation for the many Indigenous children removed from their families under government policy.

He said such reparations are "at the heart of reconciliation".

"We know that many members of the Stolen Generation are still living with the pain of their removal, the harm done by years of having their story rejected and denied," Shorten told parliament.

"Decency demands that we now have a conversation at the commonwealth level about the need for the commonwealth to follow the lead on reparations.

"This is the right thing to do. It's at the heart of reconciliation, telling the truth, saying sorry, and making good."

And with community consultations on the wording for constitutional recognition of Indigenous people still underway, he's called for it to be achieved by the end of 2017.

"I believe, and let me be clear, that this Parliament -- this year -- should agree on a way forward," Shorten said.

"Not of a poetic statement, meaning nothing and offending no-one by saying nothing, a meaningful proposition that every Australian can understand.

"And I remain confident that Australians will overwhelmingly support."

Shorten again called for renewal of the Closing the Gap target, of which it has been revealed only one of seven will be met this year. Labor and the Greens want incarceration rates, or a justice target, added to the list of targets.

And he added another priority area; Aboriginal children in out-of-home care, which he called a national "shame".

Andrew Meares/Fairfax
Linda Burney, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and Senator Pat Dodson welcomed Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to the ALP caucus meeting

"One in three children in statutory out-of-home care are Indigenous," he said.

"And Indigenous children are nearly ten times more likely to be removed by child protection authorities than in non-Indigenous peers."

Labor has also symbolically added to their party room process, adding the Indigenous flag and a "welcome to country" from today.

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