Why so many Australians are calling the concept of ‘the Voice’ damaging to our democracy, racially divisive, and deceptive with long term implications.
Detail is Deceptive
Any claims regarding the detailed powers of the 'Voice' are false. The 'Voice' will exist as a constitutional power and the details governing it will be articulated in legislation. Legislation can be changed any election cycle by any new government. We barely know the details now and any details that maybe provided could be changed at any time. Any claims that the 'Voice' will be limited in its powers are deceptive, as the laws governing it will always be changing over the future decades and centuries. The only thing we do know is that a racially specific power will likely always exist in the constitution.
If you don't understand it - don't vote for it.
All Policy Decisions Will Be based Upon Race
The Prime Minister recently explained that the Voice will have the say in matters "from childcare centres to highways." This example shows us that all policy decisions will now be made through the lens of a particular racial group. Is it divisive when one racial group has greater constitutional representation in our law-making process than all the other racial groups?
The High Court, not parliament,
will be the final decision-maker
The parliament is subject to the decisions of the High Court of Australia. This means that if parliament rejects representations from the 'Voice', the High Court of Australia will have the power to overrule Parliament and have the final say. Therefore a “mere advice” to Parliament may become a High Court ruling on features of the Voice, including its budget, staffing, processes, timing and the breadth of what constitutes "matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples." (Sentence Two.)
There Is A Better Way
Using legislation and not constitutional change will enable us to implement a solution that balances our desires for enabling good social and economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples without contributing to the decline of democratic function and tarnishing the paramount value of racial equality in our constitutional democracy.
Three FALSE arguments to be aware of.
It’s Only A ‘Voice’
The term 'Voice' sounds harmless. It is often portrayed as "just a say," a mere whisper in the political background.
The fact is: the 'Voice is a technical term to describe a constitutional power of additional representation to Parliament for one specific race. This power will be enshrined in the highest law of the land and have the mandate of the majority of citizens and the majority of states.
It is enormously powerful and will last forever.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait People are not RECOGNISED in the Constitution.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are currently as equally recognised in the constitution as all other races.
Section 51 (51(xxvi) gives the Federal Parliament power to make laws affecting ‘people of any race.’
It is true that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are not specifically mentioned in the constitution. However, no race is specifically mentioned. Therefore, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are as equally recognised in the constitution as any other race.
And that’s good for racial equality in Australia.
ONLY “REPRESENTION” AND ADVICE TO PARLIAMENT
A common argument is that the Voice can "merely" give representation and “advice” to Parliament, and that Parliament could easily reject this representation.
Firstly, the details of the Voice are governed by legislation and this can be changed at any time in any way by any government over the future decades and centuries. We don’t know and will never know what future laws will exist that will reduce the capacity of Parliament to reject the representations of the Voice.
Secondly, the very existence of “representation” for one specific race means that every policy debate in Australia will forever be viewed through the divisive lens of race.
Thirdly, the voice will be a constitutional power, mandated by the majority of the citizens and States. It is enormously powerful, and its representations cannot be easily rejected by Parliament. (That’s the whole point of it being in the constitution.)
Lastly, on all constitutional matters, the decisions of Parliament are subject to the views of the High Court of Australia. This means the Parliament may reject representations from the Voice, however, because the Voice will be a constitutional power, the High Court of Australia will have the power to overrule Parliament. The High Court will have the final say. Therefore a “mere advice” to Parliament may become a High Court ruling on features of the Voice, including its budget, staffing, processes, timing and the breadth of what constitutes "matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples." (Sentence Two.)
We can create positive social and economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples without changing the constitution, damaging our democracy, creating racial division and long term social and political impacts by …
Equal Power For All
We are Australians who not only believe in racial equality but insist on it. We recognise Aboriginal and Tores Strait Islanders as our country’s first peoples, and we passionately support any initiative that improves their lives. But not at the cost of our democracy and racial constitutional equality.
We believe the proposed referendum threatens to eliminate the achievements of generations of democracy supporters by contradicting our most important political ideal:
All Australians are equal before the law.