The Government’s top lawyer insists the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament would “enhance” Australia’s system of government, arguing he does not believe it would “pose any threat” to parliamentary democracy. Source: ABC News.
Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue KC has also dismissed suggestions the creation of the advisory body, enshrined in the constitution, would lead to a deluge of legal challenges.
Dr Donaghue’s legal opinion was released as part of the federal Parliament’s inquiry into the proposed wording of the referendum question and proposed constitutional amendment.
It is dated April 19, 2023, almost one month after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese revealed the Government’s final position on the Voice referendum proposal.
The federal Opposition has been demanding the Solicitor-General’s advice to cabinet, provided during the drafting process, be published.
That advice has not been provided to the committee.
The opinion picks apart the proposed section 129 of the constitution, which would be inserted into the nation’s founding document if the referendum is successful later this year.
“A core rationale underpinning the proposed amendment is to facilitate more effective input by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in public discussion and debate about governmental and political matters relating to them,” Dr Donaghue wrote earlier this week.
“Insofar as the Voice serves the objective of overcoming barriers that have historically impeded effective participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in political discussions and decisions that affect them, it seeks to rectify a distortion in the existing system.
“In my opinion proposed s 129 is not just compatible with the system of representative and responsible government prescribed by the Constitution, but an enhancement of that system.”
Mr Albanese said Dr Donaghue’s comments showed the proposal was “legally sound”.
Opposition frontbencher Simon Birmingham said the Government would be better off releasing the Solicitor-General’s formal advice to Government, rather than opinion crafted for release.
Voice to Parliament would be an ‘enhancement’ to constitution, according to solicitor-general (By Matthew Doran, ABC News)