A Tale of Two Questions? An Evidence-Based Argument for Coordinated Constitutional Reform in Australia
Indigenous Law Bulletin, Vol. 7, No. 25, pp. 31-36, 2011
9 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2012 Last revised: 22 Feb 2012
Date Written: January 31, 2012
Australia recently convened two nationwide consultation panels to plan for upcoming referendums on constitutional reform. The first panel considered how to update the Constitution to recognise Indigenous Australians. The second considered the place of local governments in the federal constitutional scheme. The existence of two separate panels, without a clear process for the next step of providing the Parliament and people with coordinated advice about the proposals, raises natural questions. Assuming that recommendations can be found for both proposals to proceed, should the people be presented with two proposals for constitutional alteration, or just one? If not presented together, then should there be a staged process of reform, and if so, what should be its public logic? Given that there are also other issues of constitutional reform of importance to many Australians, how can the Parliament proceed with either or both of these particular issues in a way that makes public sense, rather than one open to accusations of pandering to sectional political interests, engaging in ad hoc tinkering as a political distraction, or worse?
Keywords: Indigenous, local government, recognition, constitution, Australia, aboriginal, referendum, reform, public opinion, poll, deliberative process, consultation
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