Kevin Rudd with an Aboriginal leader in the NT (Pic: Bob Gosford)

Yesterday wasn't the first time that someone has played fairly unseemly politics with a referendum for indigenous referendum. But it was the worst.

Last year shadow Attorney-General George Brandis demanded a referendum not be held under a Labor government, ostensibly on the basis that only Tony Abbott could convince conservatives of the case for recognition. It was a patently false statement, given Brandis' close friend John Howard had disastrously failed with an indigenous recognition referendum in 1999 and Newspoll found in 2011 there was 75% support for recognising indigenous people in the constitution. Brandis was indulging in pure political opportunism on an issue that everyone agrees should be above politics.