Indigenous leader Noel Pearson says today’s meeting with Prime Minister Tony Abbott was the “rumble we had to have” to resolve differences on recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution.
Four Aboriginal advocates for constitutional change came to Canberra for the talks – Megan Davis, Patrick Dodson, Kirstie Parker and Mr Pearson.
The Prime Minister initially rejected a request from the group to hold Indigenous-only conferences in the lead up to the referendum.
But Mr Abbott has now agreed to let Indigenous people meet alone as long as there are parallel meetings held with non-Indigenous Australians.
“It is the rumble we had to have to get the ground rules right, to get the understanding clear,” Mr Pearson said after the Parliament House meeting.
“But now we’re very positive that we’ve got this show back on the rails.”
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said a Referendum Council will lead the national consultations on the referendum.
“Within these national consultations, there will be a concurrent series of Indigenous-designed and led consultations,” the statement from Mr Abbott’s office said.
It said the structure of the consultations would be broadly in line with the original proposal the group of four representatives put forward.
The makeup of the Referendum Council is yet to be announced.
It will be made up of equal numbers of Indigenous and non-Indigenous representatives.