Indigenous voice panel split over referendum

The Australian and Aboriginal flags

The group of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians designing the Indigenous voice to Parliament are divided over the Morrison Government’s plan to legislate the proposal before considering constitutional recognition. Source: The Australian.

Despite the panel being prevented from recommending any constitutional change, some of its members have raised concerns that legislating a voice to parliament without an accompanying plan for a referendum will end any chance of constitutional change and effectively end the Uluru Statement process.

But the group — overseen by Marcia Langton and Tom Calma — has put aside differences to produce proposals for a voice in the form of a body with two representatives from each state and territory and several representatives from the Torres Strait Islands and younger people.

A draft design of a voice to Parliament, which would enable Indigenous input into policy and legislation that impacts Aboriginal communities, has been finalised and delivered to Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt.

Melbourne University constitutional law researcher Cheryl Saunders has said constitutional change “should come first” because this would “offer more effective impetus for the implementation of change, underpinned by the authority of the Australian people, demonstrated in a referendum vote”.

Fr Frank Brennan SJ, the human rights lawyer who helped to co-design the voice, does not support moving directly to constitutional recognition for the voice.

Fr Brennan declined to comment yesterday and referred to his public statements on the issue in which he repeatedly said legislation must come first in order for the voice to work.


Indigenous voice panel split over referendum (The Australian)

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