I appreciate being able to comment on the Interim Co-Design Report. I thank and congratulate the three co-design committees, led by co-chairs Professor Marcia Langton AM and Professor Tom Calma AO for the significant work undertaken by them. I understand that co-design means the current proposals are not complete and that it is critical that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people contribute their experience and ideas into this consultation process. I hope my submission can be a constructive contribution to this important work.
I support the committees’ proposals to have a National Voice to the Australian Government and Parliament comprised of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders drawn from local and regional areas.
I support also Local and Regional Voices to enhance local and regional decision making and transform the way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and governments work together on the ground.
The processes needed for the establishment of the above should be refined following extensive consultation primarily with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and with the general Australian public. I hope that an effective process, well-resourced, is set up to engage the whole of the Australian population in discussion and consultation, especially in the second stage prior to a referendum. The way in which the Republic discussions were organized, giving people real opportunities to hear and understand what is entailed, could be a model for the Voice process. I believe unless this happens the changes needed will not succeed.
The question of Constitutional recognition of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament was not included in the terms of reference for this report. However I strongly believes that following this first stage of consultation, it is imperative that constitutional and legislative arrangements to enact the Voice in a deliberate process be developed and promoted. The legislative design of the Voice cannot be decoupled from its constitutional enshrinement. A Voice enshrined in the Constitution is a fair, practical and safe proposal that will unify our nation.
Thank you for providing this opportunity to respond.