Another High Court Justice backs a Voice to Parliament

Another former High Court Justice, Kenneth Hayne AC QC has backed the call from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for a constitutionally-enshrined Voice to Parliament and shut down the argument that it would be a ‘third chamber of Parliament’.

On 5 August 2020, Justice Hayne joined other former High Court Justices, Robert French and Murray Gleeson, in supporting a Voice to Parliament. He said in the annual Zelman Cowan lecture that “It is upon these truths (disempowerment and entrenched disadvantage) that debate about recognition and voice must proceed, not spurious references to a third chamber of the Parliament, generalised references to equality, or dismissal of all forms of proposal as racially based.”

Justice Hayne went further to admonish the call that a Voice would be a third chamber by stating that it is ‘simply false’. This paragraph of his speech summarises the argument succinctly:

“The Voice would advise Parliament. It would have no power to take any legislative step. The Parliament would prescribe the structure, composition and functions of the Voice. The Parliament could change any or all of those elements at any time and from time to time. What would appear in the Constitution would be the minimum requirements necessary to guarantee its continued existence and its essential characteristics. Yet still we hear this description of the Voice as a third House peddled by those who oppose responding to the Statement from the Heart.”

This powerful endorsement of the need for change and the dismissal of the call that the Voice to Parliament is a third chamber, emphasises the need for change in our Constitution.

Justice Hayne echoes the words of his High Court colleagues.

Justice Murray expressed support for a Voice to Parliament as “a body that has the capacity to speak to the Parliament on behalf of Indigenous people should be of advantage to parliament, and through it, the nation”. 

Former Chief Justice, Robert French, expressed his support for a Voice to Parliament and that enshrining it in the Constitution would “reflect an existing national growth of respect for our First Peoples and thus for the whole of the full, rich and long history of the peoples of this continent”.

As more and more people reject the call that a Voice to Parliament would be a third chamber of Parliament, Australians need to come together to deliver the constitutional reform that would give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders a say over the matter that impact them and also right the wrongs in our constitution, by giving them real and practical recognition.

We need your support to make Voice to Parliament a reality.

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