Federal Liberal leader Peter Dutton has admitted snubbing Kevin Rudd's 2008 Stolen Generations apology was a mistake.
After being elected unopposed to replace ousted Prime Minister Scott Morrison as party leader this week, Mr Dutton's refusal to attend the apology - one of six fellow party members to do so - resurfaced.
The conservative leader said his actions, spurred by clouded judgement during his time as a police officer, had left him on the wrong side of history.
"I had made a mistake in relation to the apology, largely due to my background and experience," Mr Dutton said.
"At the time, I had believed that the apology should be given when the problems were resolved and the problems are not resolved.
"I understand the symbolism and I made a mistake, but for me it came from a place which I just find it unbearable to think what those little kids are facing that situation."
Mr Dutton said he was concerned Indigenous children were still forced to sleep in shipping containers to "get through the hours of darkness".
But the newly-minted Opposition leader said in the past he did not fully understand the significance of the gesture of a national apology.
On the Albanese government's promise of an enshrined First Nations' Voice to Parliament, Mr Dutton is taking a wait-and-see approach before supporting the motion.
In 2019 he opposed the idea, deeming it a "third chamber" of Parliament.
"We'll have a look at what they're proposing," Mr Dutton said.
"I want the symbolic nature â" which I accept is very important to many people â" to be accompanied by practical responses."
Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney has urged Mr Dutton to be "on the right side" of history.
Ms Burney said on Tuesday there was "no shame" in learning from history.
Story by Andrew Mathieson