Both Divisive And Disruptive But Canberra Voice Far Riskier Than SA Voice

Written by:
1 August 2023
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“Putting race at the heart of governing is both divisive and disruptive, however, enshrining a race-based Voice in the nation’s Constitution is a far greater risk than South Australia’s legislated Voice to Parliament,” said John Storey, Director of the Legal Rights Program at the Institute of Public Affairs.

Today, the IPA released a new research report, Permanent and More Powerful, comparing the proposed constitutionally enshrined Canberra Voice to Parliament model and the legislated South Australian model. Using internationally recognised criteria of good governance, the research finds:

  • Both the Canberra Voice and the South Australian Voice will be divisive and disrupt the day-to-day running of parliament and executive government.
  • The South Australian Voice retains administrative safeguards the Canberra Voice would not, including retaining the ability for elected officials to change or abolish the South Australian Voice if voters decided it was necessary through a democratic vote.
  • The Canberra Voice to Parliament passes on only one of the ten criteria, fails on eight, and is unclear on one. The South Australian Voice to Parliament passes on four criteria, fails on four, and is unclear on two.

“The proposed Canberra Voice to Parliament will be permanent, more disruptive and powerful, and less democratic than South Australia’s legislated model. But at their core, both promote the insidious concept of putting race at the centre of how we govern our community,” said Mr Storey.

“Fortunately, as the South Australian Voice model is accountable to the elected state parliament, its scope and powers can be defined democratically by voters, this will not be the case with the Canberra Voice to Parliament.”

“In contrast, it will be up to the High Court to determine the scope, rights, and powers of the Canberra Voice to Parliament, and Australians will not be able to do a single thing about it.”

“Moreover, the decision to delay the introduction of the South Australian Voice to Parliament can only be seen as a move by advocates to prevent the community from discovering the massive scope and operation of the proposed Canberra Voice.”

The new findings follow the release of research last week showing that South Australians have a less favourable view of the Canberra Voice when they learn it will be enshrined in the Constitution.

Polling showed when South Australians learn that the Canberra Voice will be enshrined in the Constitution, unlike their state-based Voice, respondents were: 44% No, 35% Yes, and 21% Unsure.

“The research highlights that not all Voices are the same. The power to decide how the Canberra Voice functions will be handed over to unelected judges and activists. This is why it is crucial that voters are fully informed of the proposed constitutional change,” said Mr Storey.

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