Regrettably there has been some disingenuous commentary today in the media emanating from the mouths of some members of the Federal opposition about the proposed referendum to amend the constitution, so that there is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament (the Voice) enshrined within the Commonwealth Constitution. It is disingenuous commentary because not only are the questions for the referendum which have been posed by the Prime Minister plain and simple to understand, but also because the Federal opposition when they were members of the former Morrison Government received in July 2021 the detailed 272 page report from the Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process (the Report).
The Federal opposition also have access to the Voice Co-Design Process website, a website they also had access to whilst they were members of the Morrison Government.
Chapter 1 of the Report explains how the Voice will work in the context of legislative consultation, including the details regarding dispute resolution between local and regional members to the Voice as well as with governments. Chapter 2 of the Report records the details of the membership of the Voice, including the selection process.
Some of the commentary in the media today also suggested there had been a lack of consultation about the Voice. That suggestion is ludicrous, as there has been substantial consultation throughout the community via submissions being tendered to the Voice Co-Design Process, webinars, community group consultations, social media and other forms of consultation. Chapter 3 of the Report which commences at page 187 of the documents sets out within the 24 pages of that chapter the extent of the substantial consultation which has taken place. Comments in the media regarding an alleged lack of consultation is just misleading the Australian public, and is simply untrue given the extent of the consultation around Australia.
So, in summary regarding the commentary in the media (both mainstream and social media) by some members of the Federal opposition, and other people in the community, alleging a lack of detail and lack of consultation about the Voice is not just misleading, but it also appears to be an attempt to create division and confusion about a simple constitutional amendment to cause the referendum to fail.
The implementation of the Voice to be a constitutionally enshrined right for Aboriginal and Torres Strait members of our society is one of the necessary steps we need to undertake in this nation. It is not a third chamber of Parliament; the Voice is a respectful consultation process about legislation which affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. As the Prime Minister Mr Albanese said yesterday, “If not now, when?”
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