Forty-four attempts have been made to change the Australian Constitution since Federation in 1901 but only eight of those attempts have been successful.
In 2022, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese decided to launch another attempt at constitutional amendment. His intention: to hold a referendum proposing to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to parliament in the Constitution.
Advocates for the Voice appear to think the unquestionable goodwill which all Australians bear towards their Indigenous sisters and brothers will be enough to ensure a successful outcome. But success is far from assured.
Not only has little detail been given to the Australian people about the proposed constitutional changes; more importantly, at the 2022 federal election eleven Indigenous Australians were elected to the Commonwealth Parliament.
Many Australians believe this result represents the best possible Indigenous ‘voice’ to parliament.
In Beyond Belief: Rethinking the Voice to Parliament, twelve distinguished Australians set out their reasons why we need to question the wisdom of enshrining a Voice to parliament by amending the Constitution.
Some of these reasons are legal, political and constitutional; but others express concern that constitutional amendment will do nothing to address the social disadvantage endured by many Indigenous Australians – a burden which weighs heavily on each of the contributors.
Beyond Belief: Rethinking the Voice to Parliament will equip Australians who have their own doubts about the proposed referendum with informed and compelling reasons for deciding to vote ‘No’ when asked to change our nation’s founding document.
Peter Kurti is Director of the Culture, Prosperity & Civil Society program at the Centre for Independent Studies.
Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO is Director of the Indigenous Forum at the Centre for Independent Studies, and Chairman and Managing Director of the Nyunggai Plack Group.