It seems it is not only Indigenous Australians, but also some resident Kiwis, that may be given an extra voice in Australia’s parliamentary processes.
Government tantalisation about both was, like a used car salesman’s inducements, big on promise but short on detail.
Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney cautioned a referendum on the ‘Voice to Parliament’ should not be about what the proposed body would look like in fine detail.
‘I think it is really important that the question is about whether there should be a voice, not about what sort of voice it will be,’ she said. ‘I don’t know having a detailed model out there would lead to a clean question about what should be observed in the Constitution.’
Clearly, she considers the referendum result a fait accompli.
Never mind the detail, don’t even feel the cost.
Some claim a constitutionally enshrined ‘Voice to Parliament’ is no cause for concern because it will merely be an advisory body with no power of veto over Parliament or government.
New Zealand’s experience suggests otherwise. Although its Māori Waitangi Tribunal is an advisory body that makes recommendations to government, its existence is influencing New Zealand society with contested results.
If Indigenous activists and their supporters are as competent agitating for social change as their New Zealand counterparts – and Australian politicians are susceptible to the pressure – a racially-based body limited to giving advice in Australia should be cause concern.
It is not a natural recipe for uniting all Australians.
As for Kiwi residents voting, that would be a win for Ardern, who has been pushing for years to end the deportation of long-term residents with tenuous links to New Zealand who commit serious crimes – residents who have conveniently avoided the simple expedient of taking Australian citizenship.
What better way to influence Australian law than giving non-citizens voting rights?
Do we want Ardern’s shadow to reach across the Pacific?
With around 11 per cent of people in Australia non-citizens, where does this course of action lead, and how far will it erode the sanctity of citizenship and its associated rights?
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