Compromise needed to get conservatives on board: Fr Brennan

Fr Frank Brennan SJ (Facebook)

Jesuit and human rights lawyer Fr Frank Brennan has argued that a successful referendum for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament must win over conservatives to succeed. Source: The Australian.

In a lecture delivered at Mannix College at Monash University in Melbourne last week, Fr Brennan said there was no point in Labor proceeding with a referendum unless both major parties were agreed on the “shape and scope of the Voice”.

He argued this would require a compromise: conservatives would need to admit the need for a voice while Indigenous leaders would need to accept stronger limitations on its power.

He suggested former Liberal prime minister John Howard and Cape York Institute founder Noel Pearson were the best candidates to strike such a compromise.

Fr Brennan said success depended on Australians knowing what the body would look and sound like.

He suggested the ability of the Voice to provide advice should be narrowed to special laws that related specifically to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in order to maximise support across the community.

“Why not simply add this provision to the Constitution: ‘There shall be an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice with such structure and functions as the Parliament deems necessary to facilitate consultation prior to the making of special laws with respect to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.’

“This would be a way of completing the Constitution, not changing it, and consistent with the Uluru statement. This is not the stuff of wedges; it’s the glue to consolidate the unity of the Australian polity.”


Voice bid must compromise to get ‘conservatives onboard’ (By Joe Kelly, The Australian)


The Path to a Referendum: From Uluru via Garma to Canberra and on to the People (Eureka Street Plus)

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