Law Student and Yes voter, Melissa Dib, put some of the more spurious claims of the 'No' campaign to the test.
Australia has been considering constitutional recognition for more than 15 years. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have asked that the form of recognition come through a Voice to Parliament, which will give advice on laws and policies that affect Indigenous people.
Changing the Constitution seems to always be the most tedious task, and we very much have the fathers of the Federation Sir John Quick and Sir Robert Garran to thank for that.
So, what are some of these misconceptions about the Voice to Parliament?
Let's address them head on.
- The Voice breaches international human rights standards
Quite the contrary actually. International human rights law supports the voice as it recognises Indigenous people's right to political representation and is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would be involved in all government matters
Not all government matters. Actually, Indigenous people will be able to provide their perspectives on matters that directly affect them.
- Indigenous people will have ‘special rights’
No. What they will have is a means to make recommendations to parliament, something all advisory bodies are already allowed to do. No special rights are involved!
- Indigenous Parliamentarians already have their own ‘Voices’
It is fantastic that Indigenous Australians are directly elected to the parliament and this is an amazing achievement that we should celebrate. However, they are elected to represent all their constituents, not just the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their electorate.
The Voice is designed to allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have their say when the parliament makes laws about them, while still respecting the authority of the parliament.
- The Voice will increase the amount of litigation heard in the High Court
Absolutely not. An informed legal opinion from the Commonwealth Solicitor-General says the Voice to Parliament will not impede the executive government or even change how decisions are made in the High Court.
- Australians have not been informed enough about the Voice to Parliament campaign
Quite the contrary. The government has repeatedly stated how the Voice aims to represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and provide them with very overdue constitutional recognition as our First Nations people.
Put simply, there is a lot of misinformation out there, please share the truth with your friends, family and colleagues. We know that having positive conversations about the Voice will help to deliver a YES vote. The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a call by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for real and practical change in Australia through the establishment of a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.
If you wish to get more actively involved in the campaign, read more about what you can do here.