THE AUSTRALIAN, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, ABC NEWS (Australia)
CANBERRA – Australia’s lower house of Parliament unanimously passed a historic bill on Wednesday recognizing Aboriginals as the first inhabitants of Australia.
Parliament voted in favor of an act of recognition which commits Australia to changing its Constitution to acknowledge indigenous Australians, reports the Australian. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott put their differences aside, joining together in what the Australian called a “momentous symbolic gesture.”
Both leaders committed themselves to address what Julia Gillard called ""the unhealed wound that even now lies open at the heart of our national story"" and Tony Abbott called ""this stain on our soul,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
The bill has a two-year clause forcing Parliament to introduce a referendum to change the Constitution to acknowledge Australia's indigenous people.
Prime Minister Gillard said, "We must never feel guilt for the things already done in this nation's history. But we can and must feel responsibility for the things that remain undone.”
"No gesture speaks more deeply to the healing of our nation's fabric than amending our nation's founding charter," Gillard told Parliament.
Read her full speech here.
Australia is on the path to a referendum to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution. TeamJG
— Julia Gillard (@JuliaGillard) February 13, 2013
The legislation passed with unanimous support, and was greeted with applause from the public gallery, writes ABC news.
Aboriginal rights activist Patrick Dodson welcomed the passage of the bill but said there was a lot more to be done: “"The passing of the Act of Recognition today is one hill we have climbed but it does not mean we have conquered the mountain," he said.
— National Congress(@congressmob) February 13, 2013
Singer-songwriter Mandawuy Yunupingu calls on all Australians to support the recognition of Aboriginals in the constitution: