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Support grows for appointing Australia's first Indigenous Governor-General

Jarred Cross -

It's unclear whether the recent cancer diagnosis of King Charles will delay Australia naming a new representative to the nation's head of state as is expected this year, while groundswell builds behind a first Indigenous governor-general.

In an interview with Sky News late last month, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the appointment of a new Governor-General would not directly align with the King's planned visit to Australia later this year.

The Prime Minister also resisted confirming whether he was considering recommending an Indigenous Australian for the job when asked directly on the matter.

"'I'm consulting with the king as is appropriate and it's important that that proper process be undertaken," he said.

"I'm not going to go through options because then you get into 'will it be a man? Will it be a woman? Who will it be?'

"We'll consult with the palace, which is what our Constitution requires."

In recent weeks, current and former MPs from both major parties have endorsed the move, including former Liberals shadow attorney-general Julian Leeser and former NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and former Labor Premiers in NSW and Victoria, Bob Carr and Steve Bracks.

Incumbent governor-general David Hurley is set to end his five-year term on July 1.

As reported by The Australian, Mr Leeser, who co-chaired the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition ahead of the Voice referendum, and resigned from the shadow cabinet with intentions to vote 'yes', suggested Tom Calma, Ken Wyatt, Marcia Langton, and fellow Joint Select Committee co-chair Patrick Dodson as suitable options to take the job.

At the time of Charles' coronation, Mr Leeser said a First Nations head of state would be a "natural step in the evolution of the role of the crown in our country".

Late last month, he said Mr Albanese and opposition leader Peter Dutton should consult to form a bipartisan view to strengthen a "path of reconciliation" ahead of the Prime Minister making his suggestion to the crown.

Mr O'Farrell reiterated the idea, telling The Australian there has "always been an element of symbolism in federal and state vice-regal appointments, whether Doug Nicholls as the first Indigenous governor, Quentin Bryce as the first woman appointed or Isaac Isaacs as our first Australian-born governor-general".

Sir Doug Nicholls became governor of South Australia in 1976, and so far sits alone as the sole Indigenous person to hold the position across all jurisdictions.

On Sunday Mr Bracks told The Age it would be "a great move" while Mr Carr expressed his own support citing an "abundance" of suitable candidates.

"There is the unifying sentiment to combat Indigenous disadvantage and eliminate the gaps, and there is the abundance of Indigenous Australians with the knowledge of law, government and society that rivals that of the generals with clanking medals we've become accustomed to installing in Yarralumla," Mr Carr said.

Amongst the speculation of an Indigenous governor-general, Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Prince said the decision should not be race-based.

"I think the right person for the position should be chosen regardless of their racial heritage. If they're Australian, they're Australian. It should be somebody who is proud to call themselves Australian to represent our country in that manner. That's who should be selected for the job," Senator Price told 2BG radio.

"This constant suggestion that we've got to bend over backwards for the purpose of reconciliation - for those of us who already feel reconciled with we've done our bit. We're already there.

"For those that need to catch up, then they should put that personal effort in, if that's where they feel they're at."


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