Don't be fooled: The truth behind the Indigenous 'Voice to Parliament' referendum

With the upcoming referendum to change the Constitution, it's more important than ever for Australians to educate themselves on the proposal and make informed decisions at the polls. Don't let misinformation and divisive tactics sway your vote - research the facts and make your voice heard.

A referendum to change the Constitution doesn’t come around that often. The last time was in 1999, when a majority of Australians rejected the proposal that we become a republic.

Only eight of the 44 proposals put to the Australian people in a referendum since Federation have succeeded. The threshold for success is high; there must be a majority of ‘yes’ votes in a majority of states (four out of six), as well as a nation-wide majority (which includes the territories).

The most famous of these was the 1967 referendum, especially because of the resounding ‘yes’ vote. Just over 90% of Australians, and majorities in all six states, approved Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being counted in the census and enabling the Commonwealth to make ‘special laws’ for indigenous Australians. It was a catalyst for many more changes over the years.

Perhaps more importantly, it made the Constitution colour-blind. It still refers to race, but it doesn’t specify any particular race.

In 2023 however, there will be a referendum with a proposal to change this and again single out indigenous Australians to be treated differently from everyone else. The indigenous ‘voice to Parliament’ is going to take the Constitution backwards more than 50 years, and it’s being sold with lies: that it’s necessary for recognition and representation of indigenous Australians and it will finally overcome their demographical disadvantages.

We already completely recognise indigenous Australians in our culture and society, and Aborigines have the same representation as every other citizen; the Constitution itself requires it. And we have absolutely no evidence this ‘voice’ will overcome indigenous disadvantage or close the gaps (the last time this was tried, with the dysfunctional and corrupt ATSIC, it was a complete failure that cost us over $1 billion a year). We have very little information about its powers, scope or functions.

What we do have is repeated warnings from legal experts that if the voice is enshrined in the Constitution, we will face multiple constitutional crises that will hold Parliament hostage to High Court challenges. We have growing conflict among indigenous Australians over the proposal, and a clear indication delegates to the ‘voice’ may not even be elected by the people they’re supposed to represent. We have proponents intimidating opponents with accusations of racism.

We have a divided Australia, when we should be aiming for unity. That’s why I’ll be voting ‘no’.

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