IPA Today

Australians Support A Free And Fair Debate On The Voice

Written by
10 February 2023

“Opposition Leader Peter Dutton was right to pressure the Prime Minister into distributing critical information on the proposed Voice to Parliament to all households, ensuring there is a free and fair debate,” said John Storey, Research Fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs.

The Federal Government’s backflip on its plan to prohibit the distribution of a pamphlet setting out the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ cases for the Voice to Parliament to all Australian households is a win for our democratic traditions.

“In December, the IPA was the first organisation in Australia to identify the Federal Government’s undemocratic proposal to cancel the production of the traditional referendum information pamphlet, breaking a referendum precedent that dates back over a century,” said Mr Storey.

Today, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters is expected to hand down its report of its inquiry into the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Amendment Bill 2022. IPA analysis of the public submissions made to the inquiry found;

  • 97% of submissions which expressed a clear opinion about the referendum pamphlet were in favour of retaining the pamphlet in some form.
  • 84% of submissions which expressed a clear opinion supported retaining the traditional referendum pamphlet without reform.
  • Just two submissions to the inquiry, or 3%, supported the suspension of the pamphlet.

“Australians are sick and tired of being treated as mugs. The secrecy around the referendum proposal must end, and the consequences of such a change be fully explained,” said Mr Storey.

“The Opposition is right to demand the provision of an information pamphlet to each Australian household to ensure there is access to information, and a free and fair debate.”

“Voting on a permanent change to our constitution is a critical and pressing matter, Australians must be in possession of, and have access to information, such as how the Voice will operate in practice.”

“The continual stacking of the deck for the ‘Yes’ campaign by Australia’s governing class and elites violates a foundational principle of the Australian way of life, that being, everybody gets to have their say, no matter what their view is,” said Mr Storey.

If you've enjoyed reading this article from the Institute of Public Affairs, please consider supporting us by becoming a member or making a donation. It is with your support that we are securing freedom for the future.

John Storey

John Storey is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs.

Become a Member