Parliamentary Research Brief – Voice Referendum Question May be Constitutionally Invalid For Misleading And Misinforming Voters

Written by:
21 August 2023

The Institute of Public Affairs recently received legal advice from leading Victorian barrister and constitutional law expert Mr Stuart Wood KC about the lawfulness of the proposed referendum question to insert into the Australian Constitution an ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice’.

The federal government has proposed the following referendum question for voters to answer:

A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

Do you approve this proposed alteration?

Mr Wood’s advice, written jointly with barristers Paul Jeffreys and Jakub Patela, states that the proposed referendum question:

• ‘Misleads and misinforms voters’.
• Has a ‘serious deficiency’.
• ‘Fails to state the core function of the Voice’.
• Would be ‘open to challenge’ in the High Court of Australia.’

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