Voice to Parliament

Voice to Parliament

29 Aug 2023

Next month, all Australians will be asked to vote on one of the most significant constitutional questions since federation – whether to enshrine a Voice to Parliament in our founding document.

I do not support this change to our constitution for the reasons outlined in this article.

Recognising Indigenous Australians in the preamble of the Australian Constitution has been supported by the Coalition since 2007. However, the Albanese Government’s proposal is much more than recognition – it is about codifying special status in our Constitution on the basis of race and treating one group of Australians differently to others in our nation’s governing document.

We have spent decades breaking down inequality and building a nation and society with fundamental principles of equal rights and treatment for all. To introduce into our constitution principles that treat Australians differently based on their race, gender, sexuality, religion, or any other attribute is objectionable to me. The strength of our democracy is that every Australian has an equal status in the decision-making processes of our nation and our government.

It is a national shame that upon becoming a federated nation in 1901, Indigenous Australians were not given the right to vote. Treating them differently in our Constitution was wrong then, and my values hold that it would be wrong to do so again now.

Like most Australians, I am desperately concerned about the inequity and disadvantage facing Indigenous Australians. Governments at all levels and of all persuasions have worked for decades to address these issues, to varying degrees of success. It is my firm view that the government must focus on meaningful, direct, and practical solutions to these challenges.

Creating a costly, new bureaucracy in Canberra with funding that could instead be used to deliver services and support directly to indigenous communities does not convince me that our primary goal – improving the lives of Indigenous Australians – will be advanced or achieved.

Listening is the most important attribute of a community representative. Our government must constantly seek to improve their understanding of the challenges facing Indigenous Australians and I believe the Coalition’s plan for local and regional bodies, created through legislation, would provide government with these important perspectives.

Despite these concerns, this is a proposal that all Australians will decide on at the upcoming referendum. My vote has no greater weight than any other Australian’s in this decision, which is the true strength of our democracy.