By ERWIN CHLANDA
Are there any democratic countries where the constitution requires the parliament and executive to listen to a race-defined minority while there is no such obligation with respect to the other part of the population?
And if there are such countries, how do they manage their obligations?
These are questions the News put to Rachel Perkins, celebrated film maker, impassioned Yes advocate in the Voice debate, Alice Springs born and bred – a daughter of Charlie Perkins.
She forwarded the questions to Anne Twomey, Australian academic and lawyer specialising in Australian constitutional law.
She is currently the Professor of Constitutional Law and Director of the Constitutional Reform Unit at Sydney Law School at the University of Sydney.
Prof Twomey (pictured) replied:
The Voice referendum proposal was developed here in Australia to deal with our own Constitution and circumstances.
It was not based upon any overseas precedent, so it is hard to find something closely comparable from another country.
I’m not aware of any country that has the same type of system as is proposed for Australia.
Each country has its own particular history and Constitution, and its own relationship with its Indigenous peoples – such as treaties, or a form of recognition of self-determination in its Constitution, or dedicated seats in Parliament, or a legislated representative body (which for various reasons may have greater stability and longevity than legislated bodies have had in Australia).
If you are looking for something more detailed and scholarly, this book contains comparative analysis:
(Conflict of interest alert – I am a part owner of Federation Press, which is why I know about this book. But there are probably other books out there that also address the issue.)
This book contains comparative analysis: Concepts and Context; Theories, Critique and Alternatives and Comparative Perspectives.
It includes work by well-regarded constitutional law scholars and legal historians, as well as analysis built from and framed by Indigenous world views and knowledges.
It also features the voices of a number of comparative scholars – examining relevant developments in the United States, Canada, the South Pacific, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and South America.
The combined authorship represents 10 universities from across Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
RELATED READING: Voice to Parliament: Scandinavia can do it, why not Australia?