2417

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Submission Number
2417
Participant
Holding Redlich
Submission date
Main Submission Automated Transcript

S UBMI S S I O N TO THE IND IGENOUS VOICE CO-DESIG N PROC ESS HOL DI NG R EDL I C H

Interim Report to the Australian Government
on Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process

Submission by Holding Redlich

APRIL 2021

Executive summary
Holding Redlich is a large national commercial law firm. We have the
expertise of more than 470 staff, including over 200 lawyers and 65
partners, across our Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns offices.
We provide a full range of services to organisations and individuals across a
wide range of industries, governments and not for profit sectors.
Since our firm was established in the early 1960s, social justice and
contributing to the community has been central to who we are. Our
commitment to social justice has included our support for First Nation
peoples seeking to vindicate their legal rights.
Holding Redlich is proud to have publically supported the Uluru Statement
from the Heart together with 17 other leading Australian law firms1. The
Uluru Statement represented a substantial consensus of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Peoples. It called for constitutional underpinning of a
First Nations Voice to be enshrined through a referendum.
We support the call for the establishment of a Voice to Parliament,
enshrined in our Constitution. We also support memberships of the Voice
being determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Holding Redlich recognises and thanks the Senior Advisory Group and
the national, local and regional co-design groups for their considered
Interim Report and the opportunity to provide these submissions on this
important issue of national significance.

Ian Robertson AO
National Managing Partner
Holding Redlich

1 Australian Financial Review, Law firms back Uluru Statement, 22 March 2019, <https://www.afr.com/companies/professional­
services/law-firms-back-uluru-statement-20190320-h1cm9x>.
S UBMI S S I O N TO THE IND IGENOUS VOICE CO-DESIG N PROC ESS HOL DI NG R EDL I C H PAG E 2

1. VOICE REPRESENTATION 2. CONSTITUTIONAL RECOGNITION

1.1 The Interim Report to the Australian 2.1 We acknowledge that the Terms of Reference
Government on the Indigenous Voice Co- to the Senior Advisory Group for the co-
Design Process (October 2020) (Interim design process did not include making
Report) proposes that membership of the recommendations about constitutional
Voice be determined by Aboriginal and recognition. However we consider it is
Torres Strait Islander peoples, not by the important to re-confirm our views on this
government2. Holding Redlich supports that issue5.
proposal. Independence from government
2.2 In its final report to the Prime Minister and
is an important pre-requisite to self-
leader of the Opposition in June 2017, the
determination and underpins the model of
Referendum Council recommended that
free and informed advice to Parliament and
a referendum be held to provide in the
the government.
Australian Constitution for a representative
1.2 We also agree with the National Co-Design body that gives Aboriginal and Torres
Group’s position that the detail of the Strait Islander First Nations a Voice to the
design and function of the Voice should Commonwealth Parliament.
be established by legislation, giving the
2.3 In our submission, the enshrinement of the
flexibility for amendment to ensure the
Voice in the Constitution:
ongoing effectiveness of the Voice3 .
(a) Supports the Government’s commitment,
1.3 It is acknowledged that First Nations peoples
as recognised in the Interim Report, to doing
are culturally and geographically diverse.
things with and not to Aboriginal and Torres
We consider it is important, for legitimacy
Strait Islander Peoples6.
and transparency of process, that there be
opportunities for the appointment of all (b) Implements a substantial consensus of
eligible First Nations peoples to the Voice. In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
particular, we support a model that provides through the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
regional and remote representatives with
(c) Provides bipartisan support for the
an equal opportunity for appointment to
meaningful recognition of the Voice
the national, local and regional voice, as
to Parliament. Without constitutional
established leaders.
enshrinement, there is a risk that a future
1.4 We support the proper resourcing, including Parliament could legislate to abolish the Voice.
financial resourcing, of the national, local
(d) Provides a meaningful opportunity for
and regional voices to ensure that they can
First Nations peoples to assist Parliament
operate and engage effectively.
in its performance of its functions, not as a
1.5 The Voice should not replace existing separate chamber of Parliament but to advise
organisations or bodies. There are, in our Parliament and government about reforming
experience, many existing community and refining policy and legislative settings.
based bodies providing important front
(e) Provides Legitimacy for the Voice. The
line services to First Nations peoples. We
process of Constitutional recognition by
agree with the National Co-Design Group’s
referendum legitimises and endorses the
proposal that the Voice engage and intersect
national significance of the Voice. The
with existing bodies and organisations when
referendum mechanism also provides an
developing advice to the Parliament4. The
important opportunity to educate the public
existing bodies should have the opportunity
about the Voice.
to be heard through the regional and remote
representatives to the National Voice. (f) Affords the highest expression of political
respect to our First Nations peoples.

2 Indigenous Voice, Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process, Interim Report to the Australian Government, October 2020, page 33.
3 Indigenous Voice, Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process, Interim Report to the Australian Government, October 2020, page 31.
4 Indigenous Voice, Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process, Interim Report to the Australian Government, October 2020, page 10.
5 Referendum Council, Final Report of the Referendum Council, June 2017, page 2.
6 Indigenous Voice, Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process, Interim Report to the Australian Government, October 2020, page 22.
S UBMI S S I O N TO THE IND IGENOUS VOICE CO-DESIG N PROC ESS HOL DI NG R EDL I C H PAG E 3

2.4 Holding Redlich supports a referendum to
be held once the Voice model is resolved,
after appropriate public consultation and
education, to ensure the best possible
opportunity for a successful vote. This is an
important step towards reconciliation.
2.5 In summary, Holding Redlich supports the
Referendum Council’s recommendation
and continues to support the Uluru
Statement from the Heart, for a
referendum to be held to amend the
Constitution to enshrine a First Nations
Voice to Parliament.
2.6 We support the development of legislation
to detail the design of the Voice. This
enabling legislation should be passed
after a successful referendum, so as not
to undermine the importance of the
referendum process and Constitutional
enshrinement.

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