Senator Lidia Thorpe.
The passage in question comes from an amendment proposed by independent senator Lidia Thorpe. Image by Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS

Thorpe’s amendment dressed up as voice bill

Kate Atkinson June 9, 2023
WHAT WAS CLAIMED

A passage about Indigenous sovereignty is included in the voice referendum bill.

OUR VERDICT

False. The passage is from an amendment proposed by independent senator Lidia Thorpe.

A Facebook post claims to show a section of the voice referendum bill currently before parliament will recognise the sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This is false. The passage is taken from an amendment proposed by independent senator Lidia Thorpe which is not included in the current version of the bill. 

“Property theft alert,” a post (archived here) from May 31 begins. 

“You worked hard all your life to PURCHASE and own your house and land ?

“Well 100 per cent for sure you are going to lose title of your land (if you are not indigenous) by their good grace they are going to let you keep your house BUT  pay rent to them for the privilege..

Lidia Thorpe amendment post
 The Facebook post features the wording of Senator Thorpe’s proposal. 

“Albanese”s own words “we all have to be a little generous ” .!!!!! A small section of the “Bill” you will be voting for in the upcoming referendum.”

The post includes an image supposedly showing a section of the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice) 2023 bill, which is the legislation that will set up a referendum on whether or not to enshrine a voice to parliament in the constitution. 

“Nothing in this Act shall be taken to cede or disturb the Sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” the text says.

“The Sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples means an unceded right held in collective possession by the members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations which confers usage, access and custodianship to the lands, waters, minerals and natural resources of what is now known as Australia, and the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to exercise an unimpeded and collective self-determinate governance over their political, economic and social affairs.” 

The claim has been shared widely on social media, with other examples seen here, here, here, here and here

These posts misrepresent Senator Thorpe’s proposed amendment, which is not part of the current version of the bill.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
 Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said there will be no change to the wording of the amendment. 

If the upcoming referendum is successful, the voice to parliament would be established in a new section 129 at the end of the constitution

Senator Thorpe’s proposed amendment aims to insert an additional section – section 130 – stating the sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Constitution Alteration bill passed the lower house on May 31 without amendment and is due to be debated in the Senate throughout June

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has indicated the government won’t be making any changes to the wording of the bill, telling parliament that: “This form of words is legally sound ÔǪ These should be the words that go forward” (page 20).

The Verdict

The claim that a passage about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ sovereignty is included in the referendum bill is false. 

The passage has been taken from an amendment proposed by independent senator Lidia Thorpe, which is not part of the current version of the bill.

The amendment will be debated later this month, but Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has effectively ruled out making any changes to the bill.

False ÔÇô The claim is inaccurate.

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