One Voice: Racial Equality In The Australian Constitution

Written by:
22 March 2023
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The Institute of Public Affairs was founded in 1943 as a non-profit educational research organisation with the objectives: to further the individual, social, political, and economic freedom of the Australian people; and to maintain and enhance the Australian way of life.

A central strand of the IPA’s research for 80 years has been on Australia’s democratic traditions, including the egalitarian principle that every Australian gets the same say over the country’s future, and that each Australian’s voice matters equally.

It is in this context that the Institute of Public Affairs has taken an interest in conducting research into the proposal to amend the Australian Constitution to ensure an ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice’ is given a special place in the nation’s lawmaking institutions, and which will represent and be comprised solely of indigenous Australians.

Today, the Institute of Public Affairs has released One Voice: Racial Equality in the Australian Constitution, a monograph explaining through our analysis the potential social, political, and legal consequences of enshrining the Voice to Parliament within the nation’s founding document.

In One Voice, we explain how the Voice has the potential to radically reshape Australia’s representative constitutional democracy. Our analysis explains how the Voice could operate like a third chamber of parliament and wield a veto power over the day-to-day functions of government and parliament.

This is not only incompatible with Australia’s legal and political heritage, but inconsistent with Australia’s preference for a race-blind constitution. This was a point that was most clearly expressed at the 1967 referendum, where 91 per cent of Australian electors chose to remove from the Australian Constitution two divisive references to race.

The parliament, being open for participation to all Australians, remains the best institution to represent all Australians.

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