Voting for a Voice | Between the Lines


The Wrap with Richard Denniss

This Saturday, October 14, is a crucial day for Australia: the day we vote on whether or not to create an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

The new body, enshrined in the Constitution, will add an Indigenous perspective when the Parliament is drafting laws and making policies that impact Indigenous communities. What it won’t change is how laws and policies are made – Parliament will continue to make laws for the country in the way it has always made laws, it will just do so after hearing advice from those who will be most affected by those laws.

So, why am I voting yes in the Voice referendum?

First and foremost, Indigenous people have asked us to vote yes to create the Voice that Indigenous people designed. After nearly a decade of consultation, Indigenous people have come forward and clearly said that the Voice to Parliament is what they want.

Secondly, the Voice will help improve the lives of Indigenous Australians. Both recognising them in the Constitution and listening to them in the design of health, education, employment and other services will have real positive outcomes in policy and on the ground.

Finally, there’s strong evidence that good consultation leads to good policy. So if we want to have cost-effective, efficient and fair policy in Australia, we need an Indigenous Voice making sure the Parliament is aware of the needs, concerns, desires and priorities of Indigenous Australians.

Being asked to vote yes to an Indigenous Voice to Parliament by Indigenous Australians should be enough of a reason to vote yes. If we can’t listen to this simple request, how will we ever fix much harder problems? And imagine the message that voting no will send.

I’ll be voting yes on Saturday and I hope you do too.

The Australia Institute has also released an official statement supporting the Voice to Parliament.

Saying yes is a simple way we can help improve policy, the lives of Indigenous Australians and improve the way we as Australians talk to, and think about, each other. That’s what the invitation from the Uluru Statement of the Heart was about. It was about listening and respect and dialogue.

If I can leave you with one last message, get out there and vote on Saturday. Your voice always matters in a democracy and a referendum to change our Constitution is a rare opportunity to allow everyone’s voice to be heard. Our democracy is built on our collective participation, and our democracy needs your involvement.

If we believe in respecting each other, then saying yes to the Voice is a simple and tangible way to show that respect.

Richard Denniss, Executive Director of the Australia Institute 

Authorised by Ebony Bennett, The Australia Institute, Level 1 Endeavour House, 1 Franklin St Manuka ACT 2603

YES by Judy Horacek

The Big Stories

If you still have questions before the referendum, or would like to revisit a webinar, interview or article, we encourage you to explore our Voice resources.

Over the past year, we have had the pleasure of collaborating with a number of esteemed guests and experts who have taken the time to discuss the Voice, answer questions and share their knowledge and insight.

We had the opportunity to have Aunty Pat in the studio answering FAQs about the Voice, we hosted a webinar with Professors Megan Davis and Mark Kenny, and a webinar with Thomas Mayo and Kerry O’Brien.

Other important resources include the open letter from retired Supreme Court Judges in support of the Voice, and this excellent piece by Bill Bowtell and Bruce Chapman that appeared in The Australian, which reminds us of all the ways a Yes vote makes sense for Australia.

And we definitely encourage you to check out this ad featuring Briggs, which comes with a reminder of just how easy it is to find answers to any questions you’re not sure about.

Altered Stage 3 Tax Cuts Could Save $130b

Rejigging the flawed Stage 3 tax cuts would save up to $130 billion over a decade while delivering a bigger slice of the pie to 80% of taxpayers, new Australia Institute research shows.

Economists Greg Jericho and Matt Grudnoff have calculated four alternatives to the Stage 3 tax cuts that, if the government chose to accept them, would alter the current unfair tax cuts into a more equitable version that delivered more for lower and middle incomes.

Read more: Rejigging Stage 3 Tax Cuts Could Save up to $130b

Judy Horacek Cartoon

All cartoons © Judy Horacek

Australia’s Compromised Climate Negotiators

Polly Hemming, director of the Climate & Energy program, wrote a piece for the Saturday Paper about her recent trip to New York for the UN Climate Ambition Week.

What she found there was a room full of Australian climate ambassadors with a reputation for double-dealing when it came to environmental policy.

As she wrote, “If humanity has opened the gates of hell, then the Australian government, with its spin, obfuscation and protection of the fossil fuel industry, seems determined to help drive us through them.”

Read more: Australia’s Compromised Climate Negotiators

Australia Has Rejoined the Green Climate Fund

You might have seen in the news this week that Australia has rejoined the Green Climate Fund (GCF). It was celebrated by many as a step in the right direction for Australia’s international climate diplomacy. And on face value, it sounds pretty good: Australia, after pulling out of this global initiative under the previous Morrison Government, has come back to resume contributing to the GCF in its goal to “accelerate transformative climate action in developing countries”.

But the Australian Government has only committed a “modest contribution” to the fund. It remains to be seen if Australia is really putting its money where its mouth is – we will be watching this space closely.

If, like us, you’re in need of a little dose of hope in all the environment news, check out our webinar with the eternally hopeful Bob Brown and Dr Brendan Mackey, talking all things ‘Ending Native Forest Logging‘. The key take away? The Federal Government’s got both the responsibility and the legislative power to protect Australia’s forests for tomorrow.

Disorder in the House

The recent chaos within the U.S. Congress – with Kevin McCarthy being the first speaker in history to have been voted out of his job – highlights the far-right’s increasing influence on the American political agenda.

In her latest piece, Emma Shortis explores the significant ideological shift within the Republican Party and the far-reaching foreign policy consequences of this domestic turmoil, from the front lines of Ukraine to the global stage.

Read more: McCarthy’s Fall and the Far-right Influence on American Foreign Policy

Buy Tickets to the Revenue Summit 2023

We’re bringing together MPs, senators, professors, economists and taxation experts to discuss sensible revenue-raising options to meet Australia’s spending needs.

Get your ticket and secure a front-row seat to the national debate on revenue and tax reform.

Buy Tickets

What’s Happening in Tasmania?

Tasmania could be forced to another early election, with Labor to put forward a motion of no confidence in Premier Rockliff on Tuesday. A state election is not due until May 2025 but two of the two new independents could support the motion, which would be likely to lead to an election.

Electoral reforms are still waiting for the government to bring it on for debate in Tasmania’s Upper House. These reforms will introduce a long-awaited political donations disclosure regime and could introduce truth in political advertising laws for Tasmania.

Eloise Carr, director of the Australia Institute Tasmania, was interviewed about the need for truth in political advertising laws to stop the blatant spread of misinformation.

Follow the Money Podcast

This week’s Follow the Money podcast episode, What is the Voice to Parliament? features Pat Anderson AO in conversation with Kate McBride as they discuss what the Voice to Parliament would look like, and how it would help.

Listen to What is the Voice to Parliament?

The Quote

Consultancy’ is not a “profession” in the same way that law, engineering, teaching and nursing are professions, where people have to adhere continually to publicly determined standards of behaviour and ongoing education. None of that applies to the “profession” of consultancy, does it?

— Senator Deborah O’Neill during a Senate inquiry into consultancies, while questioning employees from consulting firm McKinsey & Company

As the Senate Inquiry into the management and assurance of integrity by consulting services continues, more is revealed as to just how intertwined Parliament and consultants are.

Listen to the Follow the Money episode ‘Is Consultant a ‘Profession?’ for a deep dive into how the Labor senator Deb O’Neill and Greens senator Barbara Pocock have been applying the pressure to consulting firms in the hotseat.

The Win

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has proceeded with Labor’s plan to increase taxation for those earning $3 million and above in their superannuation accounts.

The legislation, which is currently in draft form, will see a tax increase from 15% to 30% on earnings.

The decision to increase tax was made in the interest of boosting the budget, and will see a contribution of $2.3 billion in revenue in its first full year of operation from July 1, 2025.

“Australians are making hard choices around the kitchen table, and it’s important that the government does the same thing around the cabinet table,” said Treasurer Chalmers.

The Bin

The Federal Court has handed down its decision which rules Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek was legally correct to ignore the climate impacts of the Narrabri and Mount Pleasant coal mines.

Minister Plibersek was asked to appear in court as part of the Living Wonders case, brought by Environmental Justice Australia on behalf of the Environment Council of Central Queensland. If successful it would have enabled the Environment Minister to consider the climate impacts on endangered species and ecosystems when assessing fossil fuel projects.

Instead, the Environment Minister is able to make decisions, and mine approvals, without considering the climate and ecosystem damage they will cause.

The Australia Institute estimates that, if approved, the Narrabri and Mount Pleasant mines will result in over 1.3 billion tonnes of lifetime emissions, the equivalent of running an average coal power station for 194 years, according to the Australia Institute’s Coal Mine Tracker.

What’s On

Webinar: The New Domino Theory | 11am Tuesday 17 October 

Register Here

Canberra Politics in the Pub: Whistleblowing in Australia | 6:30pm Wednesday 18 October 

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Darwin Politics in the Pub: Gas. The Facts. | 6:00pm Tuesday 24 October

Register Here

Webinar: Food Waste in Australia | 11am Wednesday 25 October

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