The Voice to Parliament referendum would see Indigenous Australians recognised in the constitution. But what is actually being proposed and is it really going to benefit Indigenous Australians in the long term? Simon Creek, from HHG Legal Group, joined Leah to speak about the arguments for and against.
The Voice is a mandate that the government will seek advice from a body of First Nations people on any changes affecting Indigenous Australians. “It seems quite simple, it seems quite innocent and it seems like a fantastic concept in theory. There is so much more to it though.” Simon said that the wording isn’t entirely clear.
“That wording ‘to seek advice on any changes affecting Indigenous people’. If we think about it for a moment it is arguable that it is not just those issues that are specifically Indigenous. That could include any issues that affect any Indigenous person to the same extent they do everybody else… Is it limited to strictly Indigenous issues or is it going to give Indigenous people a voice that other Australians don’t have on all policy decisions?”
Why is there such strong disagreement? A change to our constitution is massive and there are concerns that if it is not done properly then we are stuck with that burden. There is also a lot of uncertainty about its final form. “Let’s face it there is probably no more divisive issue in any country than race. So those are the concerns.”
The argument for is that this is intended to have a symbolic and procedural advisory effect. “So in other words where is the harm in giving Indigenous Australians more of a voice and greater recognition in terms of input on issues they are specifically able to comment on?”