Albanese’s ‘Voice’ dividing Australians

by GABRIEL MOENS – PM ANTHONY Albanese used an address at an Indigenous Festival in the Northern Territory last month to reveal the referendum question to be put to the Australian people to enshrine the Voice in the Constitution. 

Although it is still a draft referendum question, it gives an insight into the thinking of the government on this contentious issue. 

The glaring flaw in the enshrinement of the Voice in the Constitution is it granting of special privileges to one group merely on the grounds of their race.
Gabriel Moens
Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Queensland

The question is: “Do you support an alteration to the Constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?”

The Prime Minister also suggested that three provisions be added to the Constitution if the referendum were to succeed: the first would entrench the Voice in the Constitution; the second would allow the Voice to make representations to parliament and the executive government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (ASTI).


The third proposes to insert, into the Constitution, a new head of legislative power, according to which the parliament shall have power to make laws with respect to the functions and procedures of the Voice.

The centre-Left Labor government will try to enlist the Opposition into supporting the referendum.

In this context, it is interesting to note that the Opposition’s Indigenous affairs spokesperson, Julian Leeser, described the prime minister’s speech as a “positive step”.

The Voice is the government’s response to the recommendations made by an Aboriginal National Constitutional Convention held in 2017 and resulted in the release of a document, the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The document proposed the establishment of an Indigenous Voice in parliament to empower ATSI people, and the establishment of the Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making with Australian governments and oversee a process of truth-telling about Australia’s history and colonisation.

As a referendum on the Voice is likely to be held in this term of parliament, it is appropriate to consider the three provisions.

With regard to the first provision, the entrenchment of the Voice in the Constitution, it may be noted that over the years, there have been countless, and sometimes corrupt, Aboriginal quangos, like the ATSI Commission, that have wasted millions, if not billions, of dollars.

Australia’s Indigenous population is estimated to constitute 3.2 per cent of the total population; it is the only racial group that has its own federal minister, and every State and territory has a Ministry for Indigenous Affairs.

By any standard, the Indigenous industry has spawned the creation of huge, bloated bureaucracies, the maintenance of which is expensive.

Often, these administrative behemoths have designed and administered doomed policies, including the cashless credit card, alcohol prohibition, housing, and social welfare programs.

If these precedents are an indication, there is no hope that the Voice would be any better. In fact, it would be far worse because it would be impossible to remove a body that is entrenched in the Constitution.


But the most important flaw in the potential enshrinement of the Voice in the Constitution is it is granting of special privileges to one group merely on the ground of the race of its members.

The distribution of societal benefits on the ground of a person’s race, which is an incident of birth, makes a mockery of governments’ stated reassurances to create a society where a person’s race is irrelevant and the administration of justice is colour-blind.

In accordance with the second proposed addition to the Constitution, the Voice would be a standing advisory body that would make representations to the government on laws and policies affecting ATSI people in Australia.

The requirement of “consultation” raises the question of whether it would be sufficient to ask the Voice for an opinion or whether it must give an opinion.

If the adoption of legislation is delayed until the Voice provides governments with its opinion, it could effectively veto legislation by adopting the convenient device of not giving an opinion at all and paralyse the machinery of government.

In such a case, the Voice would effectively function as a third chamber in addition to the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Of course, implementing legislation could restrict the advisory power of the Voice to a consideration of proposed laws and policies that actually or potentially affect ATSI people.

However, such an argument is disingenuous because all general laws, since they are made for all the people of Australia, potentially impact on Indigenous Australians.


Indeed, unless the government wants to create an institutionalised form of apartheid, it is not appropriate to exempt any racial group from the application of Australia’s general laws.

Finally, the determination of “the composition, functions, powers and procedures” of the Voice would require the parliament to draft detailed rules on establishing group membership.

This would lead to intractable problems associated with attempts to prove membership of a group.

The sponsors of the Voice may attempt to sidestep this difficulty by arguing that societal disadvantage, which is much easier to determine, is a suitable proxy for determining group membership.

Such an attempt certainly has merit, but it still raises the question of why one disadvantaged group, among others, is selected for special treatment.

There is also a danger that those who advocate for the “No” vote will be demonised as racists.

Such an accusation, of course, would affect the ability to frankly and openly debate the issues associated with the Voice.

Indeed, critics would certainly be described as bigoted troglodytes if they were to question the proposed enshrinement of the Voice in the Constitution.


The establishment of the Voice may well constitute a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

In one section, it stipulates that: “Special measures taken for the sole purpose of securing adequate advancement of certain racial or ethnic groups … shall not be deemed racial discrimination, provided, however, that such measures do not, as a consequence, lead to the maintenance of separate rights for different racial groups”.

The enshrinement of the Voice in the Constitution would clearly offend this convention, thus institutionalising discrimination in Australia and potentially affecting all aspects of society.PC

– Gabriel Moens

Australia on brink of break-up…

MAIN PHOTOGRAPH:  Julian Leeser. (courtesy ABC)
RE-PUBLISHED: This article was originally published by The Spectator Australia on August 4, 2022. Re-used with permission.

7 thoughts on “Albanese’s ‘Voice’ dividing Australians

  1. In the Saturday Daily Telegraph 13 August 2022 an article: Super student squad to help advise Australia.

    “They’re the elite squad of high school students with a direct ear to the Education Department – and now the Minister’s Student Council is taking its expertise to Canberra. When federal and state education ministers met on Friday to tackle the teacher shortage crisis, they also agreed to expand NSW’s programme to all states and territories, creating a national group of students to advise on policy and curriculum matters.”

    They are the voice for young Australian students and formed without any change to the Constitution.

    If any other area specific voices are needed it doesn’t even need to be legislated in parliaments using this model. And with regard for the controversial voice for Australians of Indigenous ancestry, please refer the 1967 Referendum: we are all Australians now.

  2. Under the Crown of Australia we are all equal. There are NO exceptions. To promote ‘the voice’ is to immediately divide Society into the ‘them and us’. It will be divisive, politically open-ended and lead to heaven knows what legalities in the future. I urge all of us to stay well clear. The indigenous folk are equal to us and we to them and together we are Australians. That’s just fine as it is.

    1. Wrong. Under the constitution a foreign monarch reigns over us as a birthright. All Australians are banned from the top job.

      We are not equal. The medieval eugenics of monarchy takes precedence, based on discriminatory genetic selection and sectarian religious bigotry.

  3. Stay alert, the old failed referendum republicans are preparing for their next attempt to fool Australians into permitting them to fiddle with the Constitution to remove and replace the parts that are inconveniently in the way of leftist objectives.

    Similar to the voice and lack of details provided, just vote yes and leave the rest to them, they hope.

    1. Wise up lad. Learn the difference between the constitution and legislation.

      Constitutions outline responsibilities. Governments via parliaments pass legislation to execute those responsibilities.

      For example, the constitution only says the commonwealth is responsible for defence. It does not say we must have an Army and a Navy and an Airforce.
      Why didn’t people like you squeal SHOW ME THE DETAIL?

      And the constitution only says the commonwealth is responsible for currency. It does not say we must use dollars and cents.
      Why didn’t people like you squeal SHOW ME THE DETAIL?

      And the constitution only says the commonwealth is responsible for weights and measures. It does not say we must use metric.
      Why didn’t people like you squeal SHOW ME THE DETAIL?

  4. So far all attempts to elevate the aboriginal remote communities hasn’t worked as the money seems to get lost in bureaucratic agendas somehow, and doesn’t seem to trickle down to the ground, to the people it was meant to help. These bureaucratic problems should be identified and worked through, rather than going off on another tangent like ‘the voice’. What went wrong with past attempts at elevating remote aboriginal communities and why weren’t those problems fixed? I don’t want our constitution played around with. Its unacceptable.

  5. The devils are manipulating the detail and do not want that to be examined.

    Trust them?

    Not me.


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