One of Australia’s leading constitutional law experts believes the Voice referendum could be the last time Australians vote to change the constitution, after more than 12 months of campaigning on both sides of politics.
Professor Anne Twomey is a constitutional expert and member of the group that briefed the government on the referendum proposal
Professor Twomey believes the Voice referendum could be the last time Australia attempts to change the constitution.
- More than 4 million Australians have already voted before October 14
Anne Twomey is an emeritus professor at the University of Sydney and one of the members of the constitutional expert panel who helped brief the government on the referendum proposal.
“I think we are getting to the point where it may be that in future politicians will take a view that there is no point in holding a referendum on the people,” Professor Twomey said.
“It’s even possible that today’s referendum will be the last one we hold nationally. I mean, we don’t know for sure, it’s likely that the only circumstances in which a referendum will take place at the The future is one with full bipartisan support.
The Voice referendum will be the 45th attempt to change Australia’s constitution since Federation in 1901, a hurdle that only eight proposals have cleared.
Friday marks the last full day of campaigning before Australians vote yes or no to amend the constitution and create an advisory committee called Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which would advise governments and parliament on issues affecting indigenous people .
The last referendum was held in 1999 and posed two questions to the public, the first asking whether Australia should become a republic, the second inserting a preamble to the constitution recognizing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples from Australia.
Both failed to clear the high bar of a referendum – with a majority of the voting population and a majority of states voting yes.
Professor Twomey believes the Voice referendum will have implications for the chances of a second republican referendum.
“Certainly if the Voice referendum fails, it’s more than likely that a Republican referendum won’t even get off the ground,” she said.
“People who don’t want a republic have deliberately opposed the Voice referendum because they see that if they succeed it would damage the possibility of a republic in the future.
“Killing the Voice is a way of killing the republic.”
Trends in major opinion polls over the past 12 months indicate that Voice will likely be defeated at the polls on October 14, but Yes campaigners remain hopeful of a major turnaround.
Analysts said the No campaign ran a dominant social media strategy, which helped shape public perception of the Voice proposal.
Independent tech watchdog Reset Tech has released a report revealing that some social media platforms have demonstrated poor standards in tackling misinformation and disinformation on their platforms.
Professor Twomey said social media made a “significant difference” to the referendum campaign.
“I think what we’ve seen is that social media has had a much more significant difference. That means a lot of material has been published and passed to people on the Internet that the mainstream media would never have published .” she says.
“That means you have a much wider range of misinformation and misinformation, maybe foreign interference as well, we don’t know.
“The impact of that was, of course, in the direction of no. So it was about sowing doubt in the referendum. Does this make it even more difficult in the future to have a successful referendum ?I think the answer is going to be yes.”
The full interview with Professor Anne Twomey will be broadcast on Saturday from 6pm on News Radio’s referendum show, hosted by Thomas Oriti and Dana Morse.