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The Indigenous Voice to Parliament

The Indigenous Voice to Parliament was a proposed advisory body which had the potential to be enshrined in the Australian Constitution dependent upon the outcome of the 2023 referendum. On the 14th of October 2023 the majority of the Australian people voted “No” to the referendum question. 

Australia's Parliament House in Canberra taken at a low angle showing the Australian Flag overlayed with the Indigenous Flag to the right. The text "The Voice" is foregrounded in the centre of the image.

The Referendum Question

The exact wording of the Referendum Question was as follows, with Australian citizens being asked to answer “Yes” or “No” to:

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?”

How Would the Constitution Change?

The proposed amendment that the referendum refers to would have resulted in the following lines being added to the constitution in the event of ‘double majority’ by the electorate voting “Yes”:

“Chapter IX Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

129 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice

In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:

  1. there shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;

  2. the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;

  3. the Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.”

What is a Double Majority?:

A referendum is successful if a ‘double majority’ votes yes to the proposed change to the constitution.

A double majority is reached when

  • There is a national majority of voters in the states and territories

  • There is a majority of voters in at least 4 out of 6 states.

All 6 Australian states voted No to the proposal with 60% of Australians voting No overall. 

Sources & Further Reading

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