Experts warn: A Yes23 referendum success could 'reshape federal power'

The Voice amendment might expand Canberra's jurisdiction, altering state responsibilities, legal experts claim.

Experts warn: A Yes23 referendum success could 'reshape federal power'
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A constitutional expert has warned that if the referendum succeeds it could empower the federal government to legislate in areas of policy previously reserved for the states.

And a legal expert has agreed that the Voice would “obliterate” current constitutional limits on Canberra’s power.

A research paper by University of Queensland law professor Nicholas Aroney argues that the broad wording of the Voice to Parliament gives the Commonwealth power to “make laws implementing the content of Voice recommendations”.

Rule of Law Institute vice president Chris Merritt said the research was alarming.

“Until now, I thought that the biggest problem with the Voice was the destruction or the proposed destruction of the doctrine of equality of citizenship, but this goes much, much further,” Merritt told Sky News Australia.

Merritt said that Professor Aroney’s paper showed that the way the Voice constitutional amendment was worded meant there was “a reasonable prospect” that it could “provide a new head of power” in the Constitution.

He said the effect would be to allow Canberra to “extend its reach into new areas, areas that… currently either are not listed (in the Constitution) or completely within state responsibility”.

“If Professor Aroney is correct, and I've got a great deal of respect for Professor Aroney… the limitations on the powers of the federal government to legislate could be blown out of the water,” he said.

“All that they'd need would be a representation or recommendation from the Voice (and) this does not have to be within the jurisdictional limits of the Commonwealth; the Voice can make a representation that goes beyond the current jurisdictional limits.

“Now, if you think this through, that affects all states. That could wipe out state responsibility for those matters.

“The potential for obliterating the restrictions on federal power that are already outlined in the Constitution are real.

“And the only way we're going to find out… what the High Court would say about this is if the Voice gets up, and if there's a challenge. This will inevitably be slugged out in the High Court.”

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