12 February 2020

We value your input, as long as you agree with us: “Indigenous leaders have been barred from pursuing constitutional reform within the Morrison government’s new peak advisory group on a voice for First Australians, under leaked rules that restrict their ability to press for change. A briefing to some of Australia’s most respected Indigenous leaders has warned them against making recommendations on constitutional recognition, ruling it out of scope for their group. The terms of reference … also place restrictions on the wider national group of leaders who are being asked to help design the voice to Parliament for Indigenous Australians. In one of the biggest restrictions, the government also prevents the national group making any recommendations on a Makarrata Commission, the forum meant to offer ‘truth-telling’ and conflict resolution with First Australians.” Ironically, this shows exactly why an Indigenous Voice to Parliament must be constitutionally enshrined — as long as it is created by parliament or the executive, it will not be free to express the real and full views of Aboriginal people. It needs to have independent authority, so that it does not depend on White Australia for permission to speak.