The upcoming Indigenous Voice referendum has sparked intense debates. However, a primary concern emerging from recent research suggests a significant shift in power from state governments to the Commonwealth if this proposal goes ahead. There is only one day to go, and this revelation may be the final straw to finish this proposal.
Nicholas Aroney of the University of Queensland and lawyer Peter Congdon of Ashurst Lawyers have unearthed a crucial revelation. Their study suggests that the proposed constitutional amendment could empower the Commonwealth, allowing it to infringe upon areas traditionally managed by state governments.
Aroney and Congdon warn that this could lead to “a readjustment to the popular foundations of the Australian federal system at the most fundamental level”. Their 36-page research paper, titled The Voice Referendum and the Federal Division of Powers, highlights how the constitutional change can drastically "expand the Commonwealth's legislative powers vis-a-vis the states."
By granting the Commonwealth the ability to enact laws concerning the Indigenous Voice, we could see an unprecedented widening of the Commonwealth's influence. They argue that this isn't just a minor increase in power but a significant overhaul.
An explanatory memorandum released in March with the referendum bill states that the Commonwealth could establish rules regarding the Voice's role in representing concerns to the national Parliament and the executive government. Moreover, it could assign additional responsibilities to the Voice, like making representations to state or local governments.
Aroney and Congdon have pointed out a glaring oversight in the discussions leading up to the referendum. Neither official 'Yes' or 'No' cases address the potential implications on the balance of power between state and national governments.
Public Responses and Predictions:
Despite these findings, state leaders have voiced their support for the Indigenous Voice, as evidenced by the recent Council for the Australian Federation meeting in Adelaide.
Linda Burney, Indigenous Australians Minister, dodges these complex questions and has avoided entering any official debate format.
However, former High Court Chief Justice Robert French hinted at potential complications, suggesting that matters tied to the Indigenous Voice could find their way into the High Court. This would be particularly likely if a government official failed to obtain necessary Indigenous feedback or if specific requirements weren't met.
The Indigenous Voice to Parliament proposal is packed with implications. As the debate continues, it's essential to consider the broader ramifications for the balance of power in Australia. With profound changes on the horizon, it's crucial to approach the referendum with all the facts in hand.