This week, the Federal parliament passed the laws that will allow the national poll to be conducted for the Albanese government’s planned Constitution Alteration Bill. The senate voted 52 votes to 19, yet many questions remain over the details of what Albo has planned.
The passage of the Bill through parliament triggered a six-month time frame in which the referendum must be held.
Any referendum must be held on a Saturday, and on that date, Australians will be asked to vote on the following question:
“A proposed law: to alter the constitution to recognise the first peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice, do you approve of this proposed alteration?”
If passed, the following would insert into the Constitution:
In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:
- There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
- The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
- The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.”
Concerns have been raised around the lack of details and the fact the politicians appear to want Australians to “trust us” with the biggest constitutional change since Federation.
John Storey, Director of the Institute of Public Affairs’ Legal Rights Program said, “It is becoming clearer by the day that Australians are sick and tired of being treated like fools by Voice to Parliament advocates, who simply refuse to explain what changing our Constitution will mean for our nation.”
When asked in an interview on January 18, 2023 on the 2GB Ben Fordham Live program whether members of the Voice would be paid, the Prime Minister answered, “Go and have a look at the Calma-Langton report.” In that interview, he deflected on no less than four occasions to the report for detail.
That is what the Institute of Public Affairs did recently releasing an analysis of the Calma-Langdon report. The IPA report states:
- The Calma-Langton Voice plan would potentially create an additional 850 new politicians, over 4,000 political staffers, at an annual wage bill in excess of $600 million – half the annual government hospital budget in the Northern Territory.
- The Calma-Langton Voice plan would be pre-occupied with niche concerns of inner-city elites and the activist class, rather than improving indigenous outcomes. The terms ‘gender’, ‘diversity’, and ‘inclusion’ referenced over ten times more than ‘disadvantage’ throughout the report.
- The Calma-Langton Voice plan would be undemocratic. The report does not once mention the term ‘democracy’ and the method for selecting Voice participants would be determined by local communities, which means closed-shop nepotism would be rife.
“When put under the microscope, the Calma-Langton report shows how undemocratic, unfair, and divisive the Prime Minister’s preferred model for the Voice will be, with a wages bill alone that will likely cost over half a billion dollars a year,” Mr Storey said.
“This proposed model for the Voice to Parliament was clearly designed by activists for activists to push their own agenda, rather than improve the lives of Indigenous Australians,” said Mr Storey.
Former Member for Hughes, Craig Kelly, stated online this week, “There is no need to alter our Constitution to create a ‘Voice’ to Parliament for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – because one already exists through legislation.
“It’s called the ‘National Indigenous Australians Agency’ – with an annual budget of $2,595 million.
“Its purpose, set out in legislation is ‘To ensure Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People have a say in the decisions that affect them’ and its responsibilities include ‘To provide advice to the Prime Minister and the Minister’.
“Therefore, the entire premise of altering our Constitution to create ‘The Voice’ because Indigenous Australians currently don’t have a voice to Parliament in decisions that affect them – is based upon a lie.”
In a News.com.au article by Alexis Carey, Yes 23 campaign director Dean Parkin said a successful yes vote would send a powerful message that “what it means to be genuinely, uniquely Australian in the world is to be home to the oldest continuing culture on earth.
“That will strengthen and enrich all of our sense of what it means to be Australian. It’s not just about Indigenous people and doing something nice for 3 per cent of the population, it’s something that will benefit every Australian.”
In the same article, Senator Nampijinpa Price, who advocates for a no vote argued that “a vote against the voice in this referendum is a vote for a country united in the face of an effort to divide us along the lines of race.
“It’s a vote for standing together, shoulder to shoulder as equals, to solve the tragic issue of Aboriginal disadvantage,” she said.
“It’s a vote for fulfilling the promise of Australia’s constitution that we can all come from different backgrounds and cultures across the world and play a part in making our nation successful and prosperous.
“We are a country that believes in a fair go. We are all equals, we all deserve to be treated the same way in our national rule book.”
She added that claims by pro-voice activists that a yes vote would solve Indigenous disadvantage is “wrong and misleading.”
Senator Price says taxpayers are spending at least $100 million a day on direct support for Indigenous Australians.
Of the 227 senators and members of the Commonwealth parliament, 11 presently identify as being Indigenous. This represents 4.8 per cent of all parliamentarians, compared to an Indigenous population that makes up 3.3 per cent of the total Australian population.
This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 22 June 2023.