Tony Abbott has acknowledged the importance of migrants in Australia, but ruled out constitutional recognition in the near future.
Mr Abbott’s Liberal colleague Ian Goodenough had called for their inclusion in the constitution on Wednesday.
The Western Australian politician, born in Singapore, said contributions by families like his own should be formally acknowledged.
“We’ve got the first settlers, Chinese migrants on the goldfields in the 1800s, the Afghans, the Japanese pearl divers in Broome,” he said, as quoted by the ABC.
“These migrants want to be recognised in the constitution in some form as being Australian.”
However Mr Abbott ruled out a simultaneous public vote on both migrant and Indigenous recognition in the next term of parliament.
He acknowledged the “multicultural character” of modern Australia but urged for focus on Indigenous recognition.
“Perhaps that might be enshrined somewhere in the Constitution but what I think our country needs to be on about is Indigenous recognition,” he said.
“That was the great silence in our Constitution… Let’s end the great silence and let’s finally acknowledge Indigenous people in our nation’s founding document.”
Mr Abbott also spoke on Native Title issues, telling reporters that any Indigenous land should be “not just a cultural and spiritual asset, but economic too”.
“Aboriginal land should not simply be something for them to look at, walk over, hunt on,” he said.
“It should be something that helps them to become part of the economic as well as the cultural mainstream of our country.”