Scott Morrison has rejected introducing an indigenous voice to parliament, claiming it would only a “third chamber” of power.
The prime minister said in an interview on ABC radio that including an additional indigenous voice to parliament would not be possible and be too many.
“I don’t support a third chamber,” he said.
“People can dress it up any way they like – but I think two chambers is enough.”
“The implications of how this works, frankly, lead to those same conclusions and I share the view that I don’t think that’s a workable proposal.”
However, Mr Morrison believed in reconciliation.
“That doesn’t mean we have to agree on every proposal, but every proposal will be treated with respect and we will find a way forward.”
Labor’s indigenous representatives said they were disappointed with the response.
“After all, this is the same government that repeatedly and disrespectfully dismisses and mischaracterises the aspirations of First Nations people,” Pat Dodson, Warren Snowdon and Malarndirri McCarthy said in a joint statement.
They said Labor “is committed to meaningful recognition and reconciliation through a constitutionally enshrined voice to parliament.
It came as Mr Morrison also retreated on an idea to create a new national day to recognise and celebrate indigenous Australians and culture.
Mr Morrison suggested the idea on Tuesday, but it has reignited debate on whether Australia Day should remain on January 26.
“I haven’t said it’s a public holiday or not a public holiday,” he said, stating he wanted to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievements.
“I haven’t been so specific – I just think we should have a chat about it.”
However, he stated that he would not be changing the date of Australia Day.
He said Australia already had dedicated days to recognise indigenous achievements, acknowledging the Australian Capital Territory’s Reconciliation Day and Naidoc Week.
“A lot of people said we’ve got a lot of these. Let’s just look at it: are we doing something which sufficiently acknowledges the great contribution and success of our Indigenous peoples?”, he asked.
“Some may say yes, some may say no.”