A Handy Dandy Guide to Great Big Fibs in the Yes Voice Rhetoric By James Reed
Peter Swan, a professor and Mark Humphery-Jenner an associate professor in the University of NSW Business School, have put together some of the fine print details on the Voice referendum that you are not going to hear from PM Albo as he drifts around in a miasma of stifling wokeness. This article is a great one to give to anyone you know who is undecided, as it is not pushy, but tells it like it is, that the referendum is not a mere symbolic gesture as Albo is saying, but is tied up to giving substantial power, more than has ever occurred in Australia’s history, to a special interest group. The Voice intends to pursue a treaty, and there will be reparations taken from Australia’s GDP.
The Yes side is not publicly speaking about this, the fine print of the Voice as the authors put it, but the evidence is undeniable, although the Yes mob still deny it.
It is sometimes argued that the voice is merely advisory, that the executive and parliament can ignore it if they choose. This paints an incomplete picture.
Indeed, as prominent Yes campaigners Megan Davis and George Williams have stated, “The voice to parliament is a structural reform. It is a change to the structure of Australia’s public institutions and would redistribute public power via the Constitution, Australia’s highest law.”
Access to government is power. If you can convey your view to the minister, the Reserve Bank of Australia or any other bureaucrat, you have power.
The voice also has supernormal funding that comes directly from the taxpayer.
Other parties do not have an analogous voice. Farmers, for example, have no constitutionally enshrined taxpayer-funded voice.
This is analogous to funding and listening to only one side of a court case. It is clear what the outcome will be. While that one side simply may “advise” the judge or the jury, it has clear power because of the position it is put in.
Anthony Albanese has claimed that people are not voting on treaty or reparations. In a superficial sense, this is correct.
The Yes camp often highlights that Queensland is pursuing a treaty even without the voice. But this is a misdirection.
The voice plausibly increases the chance of treaty and, with it, reparations. This is a logical consequence of the one-page Uluru Statement from the Heart, which states: “Makarrata (treaty) is the culmination of our agenda”.
Williams and Davis have stated: “Without the Indigenous voice to parliament, a treaty is vulnerable.” Treaty could involve “reparations”, as suggested in the Uluru dialogue documents.
These might take the form of a proportion of gross domestic product.
A basic legal doctrine is that executive (that is, government) action can be reviewed.
This often involves claims that the decision-maker failed to consider relevant matters when making a decision.
If the voice comes into being, its representations become “relevant” considerations. The government can disagree with the submissions. But it must consider them, and it may feel compelled to adopt them.
The voice could lodge complaints that the decision-maker failed to consider its submissions. This is credible even if the case is doomed to fail and even if the government did consider its submissions.
This is because the voice gets government money and its members do not personally lose from failed litigation. This is not to say that it will happen but that it could happen. The government failed to include safeguards to prevent it.
A common misconception is that the voice makes representations on, or can engage in, only matters that differentially impact Indigenous Australians. Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus stated this in his second-reading speech. However, the voice is not so limited.
The plain text of the amendment wording says the voice can engage “on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”.
It is not restricted to matters that differently, especially, or differentially impact Indigenous Australians. It covers all matters. The amendment text has been the subject of careful and long deliberation.
The Prime Minister rejected attempts to limit it. This evinces a clear legislative intent for the voice to engage with any matter whatsoever. The High Court could not restrict the voice when the legislative intent is so clear.
It is sometimes asserted that voters need not know the details before they vote on the voice.
The Yes campaign points to section 51 of the Constitution, arguing that the enumerated powers are broad and came into being without legislation.
However, this is not an apt analogy. Indeed, it might suggest that asking for legislation details or safeguards is appropriate. But legislation cannot limit the power of the voice once it is enshrined in the Constitution.
The fact some existing powers might be too broad is not an argument for additional broad powers. As indicated, the government could have limited the voice’s scope or powers but it chose not to.
There are claims the voice involves long-overdue recognition for Indigenous Australians in the Constitution. It certainly does entail recognition. But it goes significantly further. It gives access and funding to the unelected voice body. As indicated above, the voice is not merely advisory.
It does increase the probability of a treaty or reparations. It could hypothetically slow government. Thus, the referendum is not merely about recognition.
So where does this leave us? The issue is that there are myths, inaccuracies and simplifications circulating about the referendum. Accusations of misinformation fly fast and loose, and have lost all meaning. There is a lot of spin.
What is clear, however, is that voters must consider the voice’s full suite of powers and implications. Voters might like these. They might not. But voters are entitled to be fully informed.”