Neos Kosmos: No, the voice proposal does not contradict racial discrimination laws

Neos Kosmos writes that there have been social media posts circulating that claim the Voice to Parliament referendum directly contradicts Australian racial discrimination laws and international conventions. Experts have reiterated there is nothing ‘illegal’ about Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s proposal. 

The social media posts reference section 9 and 10 of the Racial Discrimination Act as ‘proof’, with one facebook post claiming that the Act contradicts the proposed Voice Referendum and ‘favour[s] one race over another’. Such erroneous claims have been shut down by leading experts, who state that the proposed advisory body will not restrict anyone else's rights. One post claims Albanese is attempting to ‘entice’ individuals into voting ‘yes’, contrary to section 11.4 of the Criminal Code Act 1995, going as far as to say Albanese is asking Australian citizens to ‘unlawfully commit an act’ in voting ‘yes’. Section 9 of the Racial Discrimination Act allows individuals to complain if they have been subjected to treatment on the basis of their race, which limits their rights. 

Dr Bill Swannie of the Australian Catholic University is an expert in anti-discrimination law and claims that in order to breach section 9, the voice would need to restrict the fundamental rights and freedoms of non-Indigenous peoples, in which it clearly does not. The Voice does not take away any ‘consultative or advisory access that non-Indigenous people have to parliament” says Dr Swannie and goes on to say that individuals can vote ‘yes’ without breaking any laws as the initial proposal was not unlawful under discrimination law and therefore cannot be ‘enticement’. 

Further, University of Sydney law professor, Simon Rice, states that a law which allows bodies to make representations to the parliament and executive on matters which affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, is not the treatment of a person on the basis of their race, and certainly does nothing to inhibit their rights. He goes as far as to say that even if the Constitution was subject to the Racial Discrimination Act (which it is not), the voice does not serve to limit the human rights of non-Indigenous Australians.

Professor Paula Gerber from Monash University told AAP that this constitutional amendment would be permant to the Racial Discrimination Act, whereas in the past Indigenous representative bodies have been cancelled “at the whim of the government of the day”. 

Ergo, it was found that the claims the proposed referendum will breach the Racial Discrimination Act was entirely false and will in no way, limit the rights of non-Indigenous Australians.

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