The Voice Referendum – A Private Choice for Each Citizen Voter
The “Voice” constitutional amendment referendum – due to take place later this year – has been the subject of much political and media commentary. A raft of submissions were made, from many quarters, including sections of the legal profession, to a Federal Parliamentary Inquiry. The Bar Association of Queensland has adopted the view – in a Press Release from the President Damien O’Brien KC – that the Association does not adopt a stance for or against the Referendum proposal.
The first item below is the President’s Press Release. In addition, Association members have contributed articles to “Hearsay” (links published below). The first, by Joshua Creamer of counsel, speaks in favour of a “yes” vote, while an article by Anthony Morris KC speaks in favour of a “no” vote.
Each article is of good quality, and the Editor thereby has elected to publish same. Consistent with the Association’s adopted policy, no preferment is expressed, the issue being one for the reader. Mr Creamer’s article includes a links to the opinion of the Commonwealth Solicitor-General and other contributions to the Parliamentary Inquiry.
The Bar Association of Queensland Press Release – The Voice to Parliament
The Council of the Bar Association of Queensland has recently discussed the introduction of a Voice to Parliament by way of amendment to the Commonwealth Constitution. At a meeting on 18 April 2023, the Council unanimously determined that the Association would not take a formal position, either for or against.
Mr Damien O’Brien KC, President of the Bar Association of Queensland, stated:
“Amending the Constitution to introduce a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament is a matter of great legal, historical and social significance. Nonetheless, the Council of the Bar Association of Queensland has unanimously taken the view that it is a matter which does not fall within the range of core issues on which the Association usually takes a public position. Those core issues are the rule of law, the proper administration of justice and the practice of barristers.
Because of their specialist practice in the law, barristers have a particular insight into the Constitutional and Administrative law issues which are at the heart of the legal questions involved with the introduction of a Voice to Parliament. I expect that the barristers of Queensland will play an important role in informing the broader community of the legal issues involved and leading a civilised, intelligent debate on the proposed constitutional amendment.
Like the community more generally, there is a wide range of views amongst Queensland barristers in relation to the Voice. Those differing views should be respected. It is entirely inappropriate, as has occurred recently in Victoria and New South Wales, for some barristers to suggest that members of the Bar are only taking a position on the Voice for financial gain.
While the Queensland Bar has determined not to take a formal public position in relation to the Voice, the position that other State and Territory Associations take is a matter for those Associations and their members. I am confident that the leaders of each of those Associations are acting with the best of intentions when determining the position that their Association takes.”