How would Australia enshrine a Voice to Parliament in the Constitution?
August 5, 2020
A Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution would be achieved through a double majority vote for in support for the change at a referendum. This means that at least four out of six states would vote in favour of the Voice to Parliament alongside a majority of Australians.
What is the Referendum Process?
Referendums begin as a proposed law, presented to the Australian Parliament. The Bill can be introduced into either house of the Parliament (House of Representatives or the Senate) and to proceed, mush be passed by an absolute majority.
The Bill is then considered by the other house, and the bill should be passed by an absolute majority in the other house. The Constitution provides a process for the referendum to proceed if the bill is rejected by the other house.
Once the bill passes both houses of Parliament, a referendum must be held between 2 and 6 months at a minimum and maximum. In that period of time, members of parliament who support and oppose the proposed changes prepare their cases. After this, the Australian Electoral Commission will print and distribute an information leaflet to voters outlining the proposed alterations and the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ cases.
Referendums, like elections, follow Australia’s system of compulsory voting whereby everyone over the age of 18 is required to register with the AEC to vote. Upon registration, you are required to vote or face a fine.
Unlike elections, voters do not number the boxes to allocate their vote, nor do they mark their support with a cross or a tick. Voters must write either “Yes” or “No” and the referendum passes through a double majority, where at least four out of six states vote ‘Yes’ and the overall majority of the population votes ‘Yes’.
A Voice to Parliament could be enshrined in the Constitution if it followed the above process and was supported by Australia through a double majority. This would be a fair and practical change that would ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are recognised through a mechanism that can deliver better policy outcomes.
When the time comes, we will need your help in passing a referendum to make a Voice to Parliament a reality.
In the meantime, we need your help to spread the awareness and support for this important campaign.
If you want to see real change happen, here are some things you can do: