"There isn’t enough detail."
Yes, there is.
The Voice is the result of years of nationwide input and careful design work by Indigenous people. It comes with a mountain of detail, including a 262-page report. It was delivered in 2021. Senior political figures have had two years to read it.
"This hasn’t been done anywhere else."
Yes, it has.
Australia is the only first-world nation with a colonial history that doesn’t recognise its First People in its constitution. Around the world, forums similar to the Voice are already set-up such as in Norway (30+ years), New Zealand and Canada (27 years).
"The Voice favours one racial group."
No, it doesn’t.
In 1967, a referendum amended the constitution to give national parliament the power to make special laws about First Nations people. However, this amendment did not empower First Nations people with a say in the making of those laws and policies. The Voice will give them the ability to give advice on these laws.
"The Voice is a danger to our democracy."
No, it's not.
It’s an advisory body. It will enhance our democracy. Media spreading misinformation and undisclosed political donations are the sorts of things that compromise our system of government and endanger our democracy.
"Indigenous people don’t support it."
The majority do.
The overwhelming majority do–approximately 80% of First Nations People.
With every Federal and State election, there is never voter agreement on issues, so why do we insist that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to be in total agreement?
"It's dangerous to give advice to the Executive government."
No, it's not.
Ministers’ diaries are filled every week with representations from individuals, representatives of organisations and lobbyists from the mining sector, the arts, you name it. It’s an accepted practice.
A Voice to parliament simply means that Indigenous representatives will be heard by government on a regular basis, ensuring better policy outcomes.
"It will have too much power."
No, it won’t.
The Voice is a very simple, straightforward, reasonable and practical idea. As an advisory body, it will enable Indigenous communities to bring their experience, wisdom and knowledge before parliament. The design of the Voice will be determined by the national parliament.
"It’s legally risky."
No, it’s not.
The Voice is an advisory body. Like all advisory bodies that currently exist (such as business groups, the welfare sector and charitable organisations) they don’t have any power to block laws or override government decisions. The goal is to represent experience, views and opinions to the government. Government chooses to listen, and the government chooses whether to act on this advice.
"It divides us."
No, it doesn’t.
The Referendum proposal will further the cause of reconciliation in Australia. We are being called on to recognise, in the Constitution, the First Australians. It is about honouring and celebrating the uniqueness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples as custodians of this land. It is not about some form of racial apartheid.
“This will create a costly extra layer of bureaucracy.”
No, it won't.
The most recent Indigenous Expenditure Report, published in 2017, that Indigenous-specific expenditure accounted for 1.1 per cent of total direct expenditure on all Australians. The Productivity Commission has recently affirmed that place-based solutions that overcome past failures of government will be money better spent.
No, it’s not.
The Voice ends 200 years of discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It starts to heal the deep wound created by our troubled past. It will slowly but surely erode the prejudice and institutional practices which have demeaned Indigenous Australians. This can only benefit the whole country.
"We should do a treaty instead."
The Voice is a crucial first step.
The Uluru Convention represented an historic coming together and an impressive consultative process. This Convention led to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The order was clearly set out — Voice. Treaty. Truth. This was overwhelmingly endorsed by delegates at the Convention. We should be prepared to respect this historic consensus from First Nations people.
"Indigenous people are already represented in Parliament."
This misses the point.
There are currently eleven Indigenous politicians. Like their counterparts from diverse backgrounds, they must represent all of their constituents. They can be voted out at the next poll and replaced by non-Indigenous representatives.
The Voice guarantees an ongoing mechanism for Indigenous Australians around the country to be heard — and for government policies and programs to be better conceived and more effective.
Be part of the conversation.