6 Apr 2009

Australian endorsement prompts rethink

8:43 am on 6 April 2009

The Government will examine Australia's reasons for endorsing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The declaration bans discrimination against the world's 370 million indigenous people and was adopted by the UN General Assembly two years ago.

In 2007, the previous conservative government of John Howard joined the United States, Canada and the Labour-led New Zealand government in opposing the declaration.

Altogether, 143 member nations voted for it, while 11 abstained.

At the time the Australian government argued the declaration could override existing laws and confer unfair advantages on indigenous people.

However, the Australian government changed its position on Friday, saying it is rethinking the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

It said the change in stance would ensure that the flawed policies of the past would never be repeated.

Prime Minister John Key says the Government will look at the way the Rudd government has interpreted the declaration and whether its interpretation is applicable.

But Mr Key says the declaration is not legally binding, and New Zealand does not support texts it is unable to implement.