Australia shelves plan to hold Aboriginal referendum
SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia on Thursday shelved plans to hold a referendum on formally recognising the country's Aborigines in the constitution, saying there was not enough public support for the move.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard described the vote as a "once in 50-year opportunity" when she first unveiled plans for the referendum in 2010, saying there was a rare moment of widespread public and parliamentary support.
Ms Gillard had said the vote, which would have followed a historic 2008 government apology to Aboriginal Australians for wrongs committed since white settlement in 1788, could be held before or in conjunction with next year's national elections.
But Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said the plan had been shelved for two or three years due to a lack of community support, with the government instead set to pass a special "Act of Recognition".