The advocates of the Voice to Parliament say that the Voice will be "just an advisory body." But they also hint that it will become more and is in fact designed to do so.
“Part of the driving force behind the Uluṟu Statement and the call for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the Constitution, as a direct and powerful expression of the wishes of the Australian people, is that the moral and political weight behind it will make it extremely difficult for future governments to whittle away the strength of such a Voice. Even though the Voice would be an advisory body only to the government of the day and the Parliament, with no power to veto policy it disagrees with, any future government that did not properly fund, support and give due respect to its representations would be judged accordingly.
With its continuity guaranteed in the Constitution, the Voice would be able to mature and evolve as an effective part of the ongoing drive to close the gap on the inequities built into Australian society over 235 years. It could also make serious inroads on the dysfunction and trauma so starkly reflected in the statistics that conflict dramatically with the image we like to project of ourselves as a nation to the world.”[i]
This excerpt is from The Voice To Parliament Handbook: All The Detail You Need, a small information book which was put out by some official representatives of the Voice to Parliament.
Look at what they admit.
They admit it will make the government's job harder. They admit it will evolve. They admit that it will stand in judgement of every government policy the Voice representatives desire. So already in their own information books they admit that the Voice is just a start for their agenda, not the goal.
But we should also ask, what will high court judges decide about such a Voice, and how it should be listened to? Will they decide a proposed law cannot be passed until the Voice has been heard? This could become an effective veto, even if not an official one. We can't be sure, because we have no power over how future activist judges will decide to rule. But we do know that this Voice is intended to evolve.
In our TikTok and social media driven culture something like the Voice could grind government to a halt simply by its official representatives saying: "We think this policy or proposed law is racist." This kind of statement could bring our government to its knees. The Voice doesn't need to rise to the level of a third chamber of parliament to have a deleterious effect on our society. Our political leaders are already weak kneed, the idea of being told on every policy, or even any policy, that they are working against indigenous interests will have the effect of weighting our parliament towards prioritising one small minority group far above every other, simply so they can avoid being called racist.
The Voice will not facilitate reconciliation. Because it cannot. It will very likely build resentment amongst the Australian people because it is deliberately designed to give one particular part of our society a favoured place at the table, on top of everyone else. It could even be the worst policy decision to ever effect the relationship between Indigenous Australians and the rest of us. Isn’t creating different categories of Australians supposed to be anathema in our modern society? How does Constitutionally enshrining separate categories not create the conditions for ongoing building resentment? The ability of this thing to close any gaps is all just theoretical. There is simply very little proof that such a body could effectively close the gap between indigenous Australians and the rest of society. But it resulting in creating new divisions in society is guaranteed. Because these divisions are built into the framework of the proposed change to our constitution.
And for those who argue: the intention of the framers of this Voice is not for this thing to have this kind of effect on society, or power over the parliament. Ok, perhaps you are right. But is there any government bureaucracy that ever evolves to become smaller, less powerful, and less invasive into people's lives? Isn't the trend almost always in the other direction?
Voting against this Voice to Parliament is a must. Because no one can be certain how it will evolve, but it is certain that those advocating for it want to go further, and would see a victory for their policy as the license to do so.
List of references
[i] Mayo, Thomas; O'Brien, Kerry. The Voice to Parliament Handbook (p. 40). Hardie Grant Explore. Kindle Edition.