A national referendum is imminent this year, likely between October and December. Each of us will be given an opportunity to express our opinion and cast our vote in favour or against the integration of the First Nations’ voice into the Australian Constitution.
According to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, it would be made up of a standing body to advise Federal Parliament on laws that affect the Aboriginal community. The alternative argument says such a move will set a dangerous precedent that could actually affect the governance of the whole nation.
While everyone wants the best outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, there is a real division as to whether a yes vote may deliver unintended consequences for Aboriginal people and create a permanent wedge between Australians.
Australia Needs Political Equality
Emeritus Professor Gabriel A Moens is an expert on Constitutional law at the University of Queensland and has served as Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Law at Murdoch University. He’s also the co-author of a seminal work, The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia Annotated. Gabriel recently joined us on 20Twenty to share his thoughts on The Voice referendum.
‘My view is that everyone in this country regardless of race,’ says Gabriel, ‘should be assisted by the government. It should not be the case that only people who belong to a certain race will receive preferential treatment.’
If the voice were to be successful, benefits would be distributed on the grounds of race, which is a characteristic over which people have absolutely no control.
Gabriel believes we should be working instead towards establishing a colour-blind society. ‘There must be political equality in this country,’ he says. ‘That is the only way in which it is truly possible to unify all the different races.’
Listen to Gabriel’s full interview on 20Twenty below: