7 January 2023

Marcia Langton — who coauthored the official report to government about how the Voice should function — has little time for obfuscation by its opponents: “Now there is a new creed. Albanese’s alleged ‘refusal’ to provide details about the Voice proposal, so described by conservative constitutional lawyer … Greg Craven, has ‘doomed’ the referendum. Craven’s latest tack follows years of influencing constitutional reform for Indigenous Australians towards compromise and minimalism. … Former minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said he brought the reports I prepared with Calma to cabinet while in government and asked his former colleagues to consider them. He even offered those in parliament now the exact page numbers of the summary, to help them out. ‘What is obvious with the National Party,’ he said, ‘is they have not read the report and not given an Aboriginal Voice to Parliament an opportunity to be aired and listened to … There’s no excuse to say you do not know the detail. It’s laziness.’ The bleating about ‘detail’ is clearly a sign of laziness among the opposition parties, but there is another tactic at play. … Politicians and columnists and whatever Andrew Bolt is are working hard to ensure that by the time we get to the referendum most Australians will believe there is no detail. Their claims about the deleterious impact of the Voice on our great nation fail one by one as they become wilder and wilder, answered in detail by former High Court judge Kenneth Hayne and eminent lawyers including Mark Leibler and Anne Twomey. As Twomey says, all that is important at the referendum is to know the scope of the power being enshrined. This leaves the function in the hands of the parliament, with the oversight of democratic process. ‘It puts democracy, not the devil, in charge of the detail.’”

(Twomey’s patient rebuttal of some of the No campaign’s early furphies is also worth reading, as are Ken Hayne’s and Mark Liebler’s [$].)