Senate debates

Monday, 11 September 2023

Questions without Notice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice

2:29 pm

Photo of Don FarrellDon Farrell (SA, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Trade and Tourism) Share this | Hansard source

Well, some people just like me! I hate to say it—I can't help it! Some of them actually get a better answer if they give me a bit of advance notice. It's hard to believe, I know.

I have been made aware that there are claims by one legal academic that the form of the proposed constitutional amendment and/or the ballot paper question do not satisfy the constitutional requirements for a referendum. But the referendum legal issues have been considered in detail by the Constitutional Expert Group, the Solicitor-General and the parliamentary inquiry. This gives me some assurance that the amendment and the question are legally sound, Senator Roberts.

Historically, all referendum ballot paper questions have either used the short title, until 1951, or the long title, after 1951, of the Constitution alteration that passed through the parliament. The question for the Voice uses the long title, consistent with the practice for over 70 years. The government is aware of a potential challenge to the ballot paper reform. This application has not yet been accepted by the High Court and is therefore not an active proceeding. At this point, I'm advised that it is probably inappropriate to comment further on that possible legal challenge.


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