To the Editor,
I have the greatest respect for the Salvation Army and the hard work they carry on for those in need. But there is much more at stake in the upcoming referendum than helping those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) who are in need of it.
The Constitution, which is the book of rules by which we are governed and should not be used to implement the policies of the government of the day. What 90% of Australians voted for in 1967 was to to amend the Constitution to give the Federal Government the power to make decisions exclusively for ATSI peoples.
Some of the policies created by Federal Parliament under this rule have worked and some haven’t. More needs to be done. Importantly, there is nothing in the current Constitution that would prevent a government from legislating a voice.
Putting the voice into the Constitution, however, creates a policy that is beyond the reach of the people permanently. In a democracy policies must remain subject to the endorsement of the people. That is why the constitution requires elections to be held regularly. It is then up to the people to decide who is to govern them and the onus is on politicians to argue their case for and against policies they propose.
Placing policy such as the voice in the constitution puts it beyond that basic principle of democracy. It takes it out of the reach of the people at election time and removes the checks and balances that free and fair elections provide to the people to keep politicians in check.