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Legal experts weigh in on Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum question

This article is by Professor Paula Gerber and Dr Katie O’Brien, the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University.

Now that we have the wording of the constitutional amendment and the referendum question, it is important to consider what these words actually mean and whether there is anything in the proposed text that we should be worried about.
How is the constitution going to be amended?
Why is the question so brief?
What is the significance of the inclusion of executive government?
Why should parliament get to decide the composition, functions, powers, and procedures of the Voice?
How much input did Indigenous people have into the final wording?

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State ceremony for the First Nations Voice to Parliament

On Sunday 27 March 2023, South Australia became the first state in Australia to have a First Nations Voice to Parliament. A Special Parliamentary Sitting and State Ceremony was held on Sunday 27 March 2023 to acknowledge the First Nations Voice Bill 2023.

Business titans get behind an Indigenous Voice to parliament

Article by Anne Hyland for The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 March 2023.

Rachel Perkins, the celebrated Indigenous film director, shares a common fight with some unlikely allies. Among them are some of the nation’s most conservative and influential business people and political powerbrokers. Their fight – one that began almost a century ago with the efforts of many predecessors – is to deliver a message across the country that the Constitution must be changed to recognise Indigenous Australians as the First Peoples of the nation.

NAB, alongside large corporations such as the Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, BHP, Rio Tinto, Wesfarmers, Woolworths and Coles, are supporting the Yes campaign. The federal Liberal party, typically considered the party of big business, and its leader Peter Dutton remains divided on constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians. Federal Labor supports it.

Faith leaders’ open letter

Leader’s of Australia’s major religious and ethno-religious organisations have called upon all Federal parliamentarians to support a First Nations’ voice to parliament, called for through the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Commenting on the joint letter, Indigenous film-maker Rachel Perkins, who launched the joint resolution last year, said “This is an alliance of great spiritual power, speaking persuasively to political power, and asking politicians to co-operate across political divides to achieve Indigenous recognition, for the good of my people and the country as a whole.”