As most people living in Australia would know, a constitutional referendum known as “The Voice” is coming up on 14 October 2023. All Australian citizens aged 18 and over are required to vote. Christians should take their civic duty seriously.
To help you do that, I am gathering some information to help you make an informed decision about the upcoming referendum. I have a personal opinion about the referendum, but I will attempt to be unbiased in the information provided. The information is mainly copied and pasted from different websites.
I will provide the links should you wish to read more.
WHAT IS A REFERENDUM?
In the Australian federal political context, the word ‘referendum’ describes a vote to change the Australian Constitution.
THE RULES RELATING TO REFERENDUMS
Section 128 of the Constitution provides for the ‘mode of altering the Constitution’.
Specifically, it requires:
-A law be passed by an absolute majority of each House of the Parliament (that is, half or more of all the members of each chamber), or under certain conditions, a law be passed by a majority of either House twice within three months.
-The proposal be put to the electors qualified to vote in elections for the House of Representatives between two and six months after the passage of the law.
-A majority of Australians vote to approve the change, as a total and in a majority of the six states (referred to as the ‘double majority’).
WHAT IS 'THE VOICE'?
The question that will be put to voters is whether to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
The Parliament of Australia has agreed to propose adding a new chapter, Chapter IX-Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, to the Constitution. The chapter would include a new section 129, which would be as follows:
129 ABORIGINAL & TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER VOICE
In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:
• there shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
• 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;
• 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.
When you receive a ballot paper at the referendum, you should write 'Yes' if you agree with this proposed change to the Constitution, or you should write 'No' if you do not agree.
Watch the video below provided by the AEC as well.
Below, I have included links to pamphlets arguing both in favour of and against the referendum.
I would encourage you to take the time to research “The Voice” thoroughly for yourself, as it is not a small matter.