Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Amendment Bill 2022
The Law Council welcomes the opportunity to provide a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (Committee) in relation to its inquiry into the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Amendment Bill 2022 (Cth) (Bill).
This submission was informed by contributions from the New South Wales Bar Association and the Law Council’s National Human Rights Committee and Indigenous Legal Issues Committee.
Since 2017, the Law Council has consistently advocated for a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Australian Constitution, as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the recommendations of the Referendum Council. Consistent with this longstanding position, following the 2022 Federal Election, the Law Council welcomed the incoming Australian Government’s commitment to holding a referendum on the Voice as a matter of priority.1
A well-informed electorate is critical to any referendum process, and it is important that the systems and procedures set out in the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 (Cth) (Act) are fit-for-purpose, particularly given changes in communication since the most recent referendum in 1999.