Submissions: Your Feedback

Submissions from people and organisations who have agreed to have their feedback published are provided below.

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Submission Number
Submission date

I understand that the National Voice is being prepared in iterations, to allow maximum input to evolve its final structure. I support that approach. With that in mind, I propose to keep this submission short and focussed on the items I believe to be critical to arriving at a position capable of passing a referendum.

I think most people conceptually support the idea of a National Voice. I envisage he greatest practical obstacle to enshrining a National Voice is that the final proposal put to the vote either lacks sufficient detail (ie causes voter angst as to what is really being enshrined) or has details which voters find objectionable (ie turns even strong supporters of the concept into a 'No' vote on the specifics because of the way it is put forward to work).

To avoid those outcomes, I would recommend three items:

a) Maintain the "non-justiciable" and "advice" approaches. As soon as this idea has any space to be interpreted as anything like a veto (in fact or in practical effect), it is lost. As soon as this has any space to look like it is going to end up in constant litigation (or threats of litigation leading to political horse-trading), it is lost.

b) Be very careful with the Functions section continuing to suggest the Parliament can request advice but not require advice. That is objectionable. The National Voice says it will have a 'right & responsibility' to advise, and it is intended - as it should - to be funded by taxpayers to be established to do so. In that context, providing the advice is not optional for the National Voice. There is (literally as the interim report says) a responsibility to provide it. The National Voice only makes the country better if the indigenous voice is heard on matters impacting indigenous people differently from the way those matters impact the general Australian population. There then can be no picking & choosing of when to speak up on indigenous impacting matters.

c) As regards triggers for consulting and seeking advice, the proposals need to continue to tie themselves to the needs of indigenous people which are specifically indigenous. In particular, a Government obligation to consult and seek advice should only be triggered by the Race Power, the RDA Power or the Territories Power if those powers are being used for laws specifically or differently impacting indigenous people. Eg the Government passing RDA-related measures dealing with asylum seekers cannot trigger an obligation to consult with the National Voice simply because the RDA is involved. If that door is left open, it will trigger concerns that the National Voice has the potential to be used as some wider political tool rather than concentrating on being a pathway for indigenous input on indigenous matters. And that will lose the referendum. By contrast, the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act seemed to have a substantial, direct and disproportionate impact on indigenous people and thus would be entirely appropriate for triggering this Government obligation.

As a closing observation: the way the National Voice will work (and the worry about the way it could be corrupted to operate detrimentally / more broadly than spoken at introduction), will be the key to whether it passes a vote. The matters about membership, terms, operation, etc are practically important and are very important to the indigenous population in making this work for them. But if we get the Functions component wrong, then the National Voice will get voted down by the majority of the people and the majority of the States. So PLEASE do not lose sight of the core thing to be enshrined (ie Function) because of loud voices who will want to discuss form over substance (ie membership / structure over function / obligation).



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