The 2023 Referendum Bill
The 2023 Referendum Bill
The federal government is changing the way in which referendums will be held and are introducing a new referendum bill into the Parliament.
Whilst the Constitution specifies the way in which people vote at a referendum, the mechanics of how they do this are contained within an Act of the Parliament.
The proposed Referendum Act (the Referendum Bill (Machinery Provisions) Amendment Bill 2023) will:
- Require strict disclosure of campaign donations and expenditure.
- Restrict foreign donations.
- Remove any funding for the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns.
- Fund MPs to communicate with electors via modern communication methods with appropriate authorisations.
As far as providing detail on what changes to be made to the Constitution, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney MP, is reported to have stated that ‘the exact model (of the Voice to the Parliament) would be settled after the vote, saying “that was a matter for parliament.”’ (quote from SMH 1/1/23)
Whilst the Australian Monarchist League has no defined position on the Voice, we stand vehemently against any move to flout the traditional conventions governing referendums or to bypass the provision of full information to the people to enable them to make their own decisions.
If the government succeeds in getting away with this subterfuge, we can expect the same to occur with a referendum on a republic. We therefore urge all monarchists to sign the below letter to the Prime Minister and to the Leader of the Opposition. We will also be making representation to the Parliament in this regard.
We would emphasise that by signing this letter you are not making a commitment one way or the other on the matter of the Voice only in regard to the proposed Referendum Act which is so dictatorially biased in favour of the government position that it silences and virtually disenfranchises all opposition.
Open Letter to:
The Hon Anthony Albanese MP
CANBERRA ACT 2600
The Hon Peter Dutton MP
Leader of the Opposition
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Canberra ACT 2600
RE: Referendum Bill (Machinery Provisions) Amendment Bill 2023
The undersigned are of the opinion that the provisions contained within the Referendum Bill (Machinery Provisions) Amendment Bill 2023 are insufficient to enable voters to be properly informed prior to casting their votes at a referendum and request that the following amendments and conditions be considered prior to its passage through the parliament:
1) First, that full disclosure is made of the exact text that is proposed to be approved by the referendum for insertion into the Australian Constitution;
2) Second, that steps be taken to inform the entire electorate precisely regarding each of the following:
a. how, by that proposed text, the Voice to the Parliament will be constituted;
b. how the body would operate;
c. to explain the process and eligibility for determining membership;
d. to describe what powers and influences it would have over whom and to what effect;
e. to describe the checks and balances by which its powers would be circumscribed; and
f. importantly, to provide information to the electorate regarding the extent to which the proposed text could be anticipated to be sent to the Courts for adjudication on the constitution, operation, and powers of the Voice.
3) Third, that the Bill, if it becomes law, require that hard-copy statements from both the official Yes and No cases making the case for or against constitutional change be sent by Australia Post to all electors, as has been near-universal precedent since 1912.
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