An attempt to find unity

by | Sep 19, 2023 | Canberra, Disability Community, Politics

It’s no secret that it’s not easy to change the Constitution. Doing so requires both a majority of voters and a majority of states. This means that even if the ACT and Northern Territory, together with more than half the voters wanted change, there’s still a very good chance three states could prevent the referendum from passing. And that’s what the polls show will happen at the moment.

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In the past it has proven extremely difficult to pass a referendum unless both sides of politics advocate it. A key factor in this vote is political disunity. 

Labor, the Greens, and a majority of the independents are urging a yes vote, as are some Liberals (such as Elizabeth Lee in Canberra) . The Nationals and Liberal leadership team, however, recommend voting no, as do others with radically different agendas, such as (ex-Greens) Senator Lidia Thorpe and Warren Mundine. 

Until mid-July, polling suggested a majority of people were still in favour of the referendum. This has now changed. The only political question remaining is whether the ‘yes’ campaign will be able to swing enough undecided voters around to win a majority. Given the natural conservatism of the Australian electorate, that would appear unlikely. 

One of the great things about the internet is how easy it is to find information on any subject you’re interested in. One of the worst things about the internet is that it is so easy to discover things it’s easy to become swamped and, even worse, it’s difficult to work out which pieces of information are reputable and truthful. 

In the case of the referendum campaign, both sides have been found to be using questionable claims in their advocacy literature. Guardian Australia even found that one campaign was advertising, at the same time, two arguments that directly contradicted one another

AbilityNews has proactively decided not to recommend either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote. It is obviously up to every individual to choose the particular factors they believe are most important as they decide how to vote. 

What we have decided, however, is to host some campaign literature on this site that is: 

  • reputable, and, 
  • designed to be relevant to the disability sector. 

This will be added to on our website as more quality information becomes available.  

DANA – Disability Advocacy Network Australia

DANA is unashamedly backing the referendum. It says “members and friends in disability, multicultural, and human rights advocacy are working hard to build resources and information so that all Australians have the information to help support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.” It intends to host a summary of information on one page and also offers a concise fact sheet. 

CID – Council for Intellectual Disability 

The CID has prepared both easy-read and more detailed documents outlining why it is in favour of the referendum being passed. 

AHRC – the Australian Human Rights Commission 

The Australian Human Rights Commission provides an extensive resource kit on the referendum from a human rights perspective. 

AEC – The Australian Electoral Commission 

The AEC is publishing accessible formats, including both braille and audio reports

FPDN – First Peoples Disability Network 

The First People’s Disability Network is a positive supporter and has given over its current site to boost the page

This site will continue to add to these pages in the lead-up to the vote.