(CNN)Two years after the Australian government rejected a landmark plan to officially recognize indigenous people in the country's Constitution, a top official said he will move forward with a national referendum on the issue.
Australia to hold a vote on finally recognizing indigenous people in the country's constitution
"I'm prepared to walk with people on all sides ... and reach a point on which we can agree," Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt said in a speech Wednesday, pledging to find a consensus option that could be taken to a national poll within three years.
Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples have long campaigned to be formally recognized in the Constitution. Wyatt -- the first indigenous Australian to hold his position -- said he would not bring the matter to a referendum if he didn't think it could pass, adding that he believes most Australians would support the move.
Changing the country's constitution is no easy matter, however, and even relatively small opposition could derail it. Per section 128 of Australia's constitution, any law seeking to change it must pass with an absolute majority in both houses of parliament and in a referendum of each state and territory of the nation.
Indigenous people make up just 2% of Australia's population, and while most non-indigenous Australians would be likely to support the change, resistance is expected to come from right wing groups who disapprove of creating special categories for indigenous people and from conservatives unwilling to amend the constitution.
Wyatt, who has not made clear what precisely the eventual referendum will decide, raised eyebrows in referencing Pauline Hanson, the notorious far-right politician, as an example of those whose views needed to be respected in the referendum process.
Hanson has previously claimed to be "indigenous" herself, as she was born in Australia, comments which attracted widespread criticism and ridicule.
"I admire Pauline for what she does and I have good meetings with her," Wyatt said, according to the Guardian Australia. "We don't always see eye to eye on things, but I will certainly be involving Pauline in discussions that we have, as we move forward into the future."
Asked about racist statements by Hanson and others about indigenous people, Wyatt said "we as Australians have to c