On April 4, CIS hosted and broadcasted an Oxford-style debate on the motion “The Voice to Parliament is needed to address Indigenous matters.” This year Australia will hold a referendum on whether to change the constitution and ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ views are better represented in Parliament.
Is the Voice about giving Indigenous Australians a right to express their views on policy through representatives elected by their communities? Or would the Voice provide cover for an activist government to legislate radical policy with no genuine democratic consent?
On the affirmative side were Australia’s first Indigenous Senior Counsel, Anthony McAvoy, and constitutional lawyer Shireen Morris. Against the proposition were Northern Territory Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and head of CIS Indigenous Forum Nyunggai Warren Mundine.
Referendum question: The question to be put to the Australian people at the 2023 referendum will be: “A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?”
Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price is a Country Liberal Senator for The Northern Territory and former Deputy-Mayor of Alice Springs.
Dr Shireen Morris is a constitutional lawyer and teaches constitutional law, constitutional reform and Indigenous constitutional recognition at Macquarie University. She is co-author of the book A Rightful Place: A Road Map to Recognition (Black Inc.).
Nyunggai Warren Mundine is director of the Indigenous Forum at CIS. He is an author of several books including Warren Mundine in Black and White: Race, Politics and Changing Australia (Pantera Press) and editor of Beyond Belief – Rethinking the Voice to Parliament (Connor Court).
Anthony McAvoy is Australia’s first Indigenous Senior Counsel and between 2011 and 2013, Tony was an Acting Part-Time Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court. He was also Acting Northern Territory Treaty Commissioner from the period of Dec 2021 to June 2022.