Opponents of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice claim the body is unnecessary because the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council already advises the government.
This is false. The Indigenous Advisory Council stopped operating in 2019.
The post strangely includes a link to the federal government’s online directory listing which states: “The Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council (the ‘Council’) ceased in 2019.”
Another Facebook post (screenshot here) claims: “I just discovered there are two government bodies already advising the government on aboriginal affairs. The prime minister’s indigenous advisory council and the (National Indigenous Australians Agency).”
Its purpose was to advise the government on Indigenous affairs, with a focus on “practical changes to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”.
The council’s last meeting appears to have been in February 2019, when Scott Morrison was prime minister.
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet confirmed to AAP FactCheck the council’s term of appointment officially concluded on January 31, 2020, following the body’s final public statement in March 2019.
Professor Peter Yu, vice-president of the First Nations Portfolio at the Australian National University, told AAP FactCheck the body effectively disappeared in 2019.
Gabrielle Appleby, a law professor at the UNSW Sydney, said no equivalent body had been established in its place.
She said the council had many differences to the proposed voice.
“It was a body that was giving internal advice to the Prime Minister and Cabinet – it did not have a role in providing advice to the Parliament in making laws, and it did not speak to the broader executive, such as the public servants whose role it is to develop policies, laws and implement them,” Professor Appleby told AAP FactCheck.
“Its (12) members were never representative of and accountable back to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but, rather was a small group of people providing advice based on their views, expertise and experience.”
Professor Appleby also said it was not independent from the government.
The National Indigenous Australians Agency, also mentioned in some of the posts, is a government agency that implements policy and administers programs established by the Commonwealth. It does not advise parliament.
The proposed voice would be a constitutionally enshrined body that can make representations to parliament and the executive government on issues relating to Indigenous people.
The claim that the prime minister already has his own advisory body in the Indigenous Advisory Council is false.
The council ceased operating in 2019 under the previous coalition government.
An expert told AAP FactCheck it was markedly different to the proposed voice, including that it was not independent of government and did not provide parliament with advice.
False – The claim is inaccurate.