To the Editor
Re: Patrick Rahilly’s letter, 5th September
What makes the proposed Voice so divisive is the confusion that is created when a near universal wish to do better for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in need is conflated with a need to change our Constitution to create different rights for different citizens based on ancestry. Our Constitution is the rule book by which the various arms of government are permitted to operate. To regard it as “…a statement of philosophy and ethos which guides our country” (letters 5/10/23) plainly is an overreach.
The Parliamentary Education Office describes it as follows: “The Constitution establishes the composition of the Australian Parliament, describes how Parliament works and what powers it has.” The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website says the Constitution “…provides the basic rules for the government of Australia. Indeed, the Constitution is the fundamental law of Australia binding everybody including the Commonwealth Parliament and the Parliament of each State.
Accordingly, even an Act passed by a Parliament is invalid if it is contrary to the Constitution.” (my emphasis). It follows that changing the Constitution should only be done when all of the possibilities emerging from the change have been explored in detail and notified to the voting citizens before they are required to vote. That has not happened in this referendum proposal.
So while being like most other Australians wanting to do better for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in need, I will not be voting for a change the Constitution to create different rights for different citizens based on ancestry. To vote otherwise could lead to serious impediments to our working democracy.