NAIDOC week march
Australians will be asked just one single question at the referendum later this year. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS

Confused referendum claim voices the wrong question

July 13, 2023

One of the questions at the upcoming referendum will ask if Australia should become a republic.


False. The referendum’s only question will ask if Indigenous people should be recognised as the first peoples of Australia by establishing an Indigenous voice.

It is being claimed that Australians will be asked if the country should become a republic at this year’s referendum.

This is false. Only one question will be put to voters at this year’s referendum: whether Indigenous people should be recognised in the constitution by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice.

The Facebook video (archived here) has been viewed 21,000 times.

Republic claim
 The claim had been viewed nearly 20,000 times at the time of publication. 

“One of the questions in this referendum will be for a republic,” the man on screen says at the 3min 30sec mark.

“Do you understand? You are being lied to and conned.”

The referendum question was formalised after being passed by both houses on June 19.

“A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?” it reads.

AAP FactCheck previously checked a false claim that the referendum will contain multiple questions.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), which runs the country’s referendums, says if there were more than one question, parliament would have had to pass more than one Constitution Alteration bill.

“This is what occurred in 1999, with the passage of separate Establishment of Republic and Preamble bills,” an AEC representative told AAP FactCheck.

The Facebook user also makes false claims relating to the UN’s supposed involvement in the voice and land ownership in Australia.

“The United Nations has said as soon as Australia becomes a republic, all land ownership will revert to the United Nations,” he says around the 3min mark.

It is similar to previous claims checked by AAP FactCheck see here and here.

The Senate
 One question has been confirmed after passing both houses in June. 

The UN is an international organisation that has as its purpose maintaining international peace, friendly relations among nations, international cooperation on economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems, and promoting respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms.

It has not made any claims relating to the impacts of the proposed Indigenous voice and any potential republic referendum.

University of Sydney professor emerita of constitutional law Anne Twomey previously blamed such false claims about the UN and the referendum on the “destructive influence” of the US sovereign citizen movement.

The Verdict

The claim that one of the questions asked in this year’s referendum will be whether Australia should become a republic is false.

Only one question will be asked at the referendum: whether voters support altering the constitution to recognise the first peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to parliament.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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