“The walk has ended but the journey for the nation has begun,” Mr Long said, referring to his 10-day walk from Melbourne to Albury pushing for a commitment for talks from the Prime Minister.

“Obviously, the prime minister is prepared to have further talks, so the journey is still beginning,” Mr Long said.

Mr Long said that the PM shared common ground on the issues and challenges dominating indigenous affairs.

“We’re not divided at all (about) the change that needs to work at the local level, we recognise that,” Mr Long said.

The footballer-cum-spokesman said he was unable to go into greater detail about the discussions with Mr Howard, but said that the dialogue had been open and honest.

Meanwhile, a high level meeting of federal and state indigenous affairs ministers in Melbourne was interrupted today when the chairman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Commission (ATSIC), Geoff Clark, arrived uninvited.

Mr Clark said he had a standing invitation to take a seat at the meeting table because of his position as head of Australia’s peak indigenous representative body, a role restored to him after the Federal Court ruled against his suspension by the government in August.

The embattled leader demanded that state Labor governments oppose the federal government’s indigenous policies.

This week the government reintroduced its controversial bill to abolish ATSIC, saying the organisation’s continued operation was costing taxpayers $65,000 a week.

“It’s obvious that Aboriginal affairs is being swept under the carpet when there’s no representation,” Mr Clark said of the move.

Mr Clark also said events such as the riots on Palm Island showed that indigenous people are not being represented.

Meanwhile, an investigation on Palm Island into the death in custody two weeks ago of Aboriginal man Cameron Doomadgee will continue until early next week, according to chairman Brendan Butler.

Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) has so far interviewed 33 people on the island regarding Mr Doomadgee’s death.

Mr Butler said it was unlikely that a coronial inquiry would begin before early next year.

Rioting broke out on Palm Island on November 26 when 300 people torched several buildings including the police station and courthouse after details of Mr Doomadgee’s post-mortem examination were made public.

Mr Doomadgee was found to have suffered four fractured ribs, a ruptured liver and torn protal vein.

His funeral has been delayed to allow for a second autopsy to be carried out.

Police have continued to lay charges in connection with last week’s riot, bringing the total number of alleged offenders to 29 people facing a total of 73 charges.