To unpack the Voice to Parliament, a proposal to be known as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Voice to Parliament. We first need to explore a few related elements for consideration to avoid falling into the construction of an appeal to emotion, or the emotional manipulations currently being used to sell us a face-value/foot-in-the-door only argument.
For example, just this week Noel Pearson, a leading Yes campaigner and Indigenous Academic appealed for ‘yes votes’ as a message of
“the love of country that is our driving motivation for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the constitution”.
Pearson proposes the rhetorical question “can love win this war?” Well I take issue with his understanding here. Are we at war? Is he at “war”? What even is this “war”?
I’m perplexed are we fighting against the Indigenous people? The non-indigenous people? No-voters? Yes-voters? The government of today, the those past, present or emerging? What is this war about Mr Pearson?
As such, Pearson is clearly ‘at war‘, as he strategically deploys the imagery, and this may explain a lot about his own language and frustrations to achieve legacy. However, if I process his idea alone, I’d perhaps suggest that Pearson could be at war with himself, although he’s not alone when making emotional appeals that are confused.
Even a local church leader recently proudly posted online advertising for a Voice workshop which stated:
“This workshop will help you understand how supporting a constitutionally enshrined voice to Parliament can be a reflection of your faith.”
Personally adding “how a yes vote can be an expression of christian love and faith”. Now I agree that it will take great faith to believe that the Indigenous Voice can do all the things that they say it can, but a ‘yes vote’ as an expression of “Christian love”? Hmm!
Wouldn’t a more Biblical expression of love, or more accurate one, be the love for your neighbour and simply tell them the truth?
To me, the Voice propaganda sounds like the product of snake oil salesmen. Yes, it may be everything to all people, but like all snake oil, it will become nothing of substance to even one.
So let’s start by exploring some critical elements of understanding to be an informed decision maker.
Elements such as asking and answering questions like: is the voice about equality or is it about fairness? Is it about recognition or about reconciliation? Maybe it’s only about reparations? What about truth and how do we know what we are being told either way is truthful? What is the right decision here to make for the Indigenous people and also for non-Indigenous people? And what are the actual impacts on Australians if the Voice vote is yes or no? Finally, our responsibility doesn’t just stop on voting day as many like to pretend. We have an additional responsibility here to consider the impact of a ‘No’ result on the Indigenous people that the Voice campaign doesn’t represent, those who are the gap.
The point being, whichever way this vote goes, the Indigenous people will not fare well. Even over the last decade, largely under their own self-determination and control of funding, the gaps have widened. As such, self-determination under the Voice will likely be no different, and these gaps will be cavernous for reasons I will define later. But first, it all starts with knowing where we want to finish, and that is “equality”.
Here is a simple understanding of what equality and non-equality looks like.
“True ‘equality’ is only possible with ‘defiant blindness’. Blindness to attributes, including race and sex, as well as other identities, and/or special interests. But also, a blindness or resistance to emotional appeals or warrants of injustice that claim compensation or reparations as justification for special rights, claims, or the discounted application of equality or the Rule of Law.”
However, ‘equal’ is often the opposite to how these kinds of groups of people want others to see themselves. The truth is that these groups want the opposite of equality and the rule of law, they want special treatment and special rights because of their attribute or identity. These are not equity measures but blatant advantage.
As such, they design and seek out the maximum attention possible, and they do so by incessant flag waving; co-opting workgroups or corporates into tokenistic or visual and verbal acknowledgement; wearing pins and lanyards; forcing their practices and beliefs on us and furthermore hijacking or railroading public funds into their special parades and police-protected protests. Then, to protect these rights, they publicly vilify any opposition; cancelling the loudest opponents and bullying all others who don’t believe in what they believe into acquiescence, submission or silence.
They do this to get maximum special attention which rewards them with maximum power and special privilege. Once they have gained power and privilege, they use it to shut others down, shout over other voices, or shut all opposition out of the debate completely. Often, they force people into public acknowledgment or recognition of their beliefs and name call or call out those who won’t bow down as an “…ist” or “…phobe”.
Well, this style of behaviour is more like anarchy or childish tantrum chucking than democracy, respect, or equality. This behaviour is certainly not the behaviour of people treated unjustly, or the voiceless defending themselves, nor is it those just trying to be heard or have a voice. This behaviour is privilege and power handed over to bullies.
They have lobbied for decades and already have many voices in parliament, shouting for them, waving flags for them, and as a result these groups are very well-funded and furnished with grand and great favour, government funding and programs, special jobs, as well as corporate endorsement, and public funded branding.
Unfortunately, the Indigenous Voice to Parliament campaigners fall right into that category.
The Voice campaigner is not seeking equality under the law, but instead seeking maximum attention, maximum money and maximum power. As such, the Indigenous Voice to Parliament campaign and proposed changes to the Constitution have been constructed to achieve special rights and special privileges.
We often read about their attempts to bully, ridicule, cancel and vilify the opposition to the Voice by name-calling their opposition “racist dogs”, “racist pigs” and “crazy wankers”, “stupid”, “idiots” and worse, revealing their behaviour, and testify to the quality and basis of their own claims.
Yes! Well, No! Not really. Not at all. The proposed Constitutional changes are not just recognition. But “In recognition of…” and as such are two pronged. Meaning that the Voice to Parliament is more like being gifted a trojan horse than offering simple recognition. The Voice has been painted up by the The Indigenous political elites, to look like a gift from the Australian public to the Indigenous people “to recognise” their special status as the Nation’s first people and embrace the “Statement from the Heart”.
However, the Constitutional implications of the Voice are far more impacting on Australians; sinister, divisive, and never ending, more than you realise. The Voice both constructs a war-like machinery of weapons and the protective armour all in one stroke of the pen, and all in the name of recognition.
It’s a nice thought though; to freshly recognise the first peoples in Australia’s constitution, but this could have been done with a ceremony at Parliament House without the Voice implications; but I suspect that simple recognition is not what was wanted here, and I’ll distinguish and separate out the Indigenous people from the Voice campaigners who are best defined as the Indigenous Political elite. To know what’s going on here, you first need to know a few important things.
Prior to federation in 1901, Australia was many independent colonies defined into the States and Territories we roughly know now. These were run much like separate countries. Each with their own legislation and specific legislation concerning their interface with the Indigenous people of that area. Most colonies had designated Aboriginal Protectors and Indigenous protection policy. But importantly, as early as the 1860’s these early colonies were actively needing to restrict non-European migration coming into our country. Yes! Migration or invaders as the anti-Australia Day campaigner like to protest. This effort was directed specifically at Chinese migrants, but also Japanese and South Asians or South Pacific Islanders who were initially brought in to work as cheap labour forces to build Australia, but their presence brought with it an impact on both the colonies and the Indigenous people that was not desired. This inspired the concept of Federation.
Federation was to about bring all the colonies together to be governed by a fresh set of Federal powers as one country called Australia, with many States and later Territories all operating under one Constitution. This was a hostile merger, whereby States fought for and negotiated to gain and hold power, revenues and royalties for their respective resources and efforts, as well as gain a shared benefit in strengthening together against migration with tougher federal immigration powers.
Keep in mind, at that time colonies already had their own laws concerning railroads, hospitals, voting rights, the protection of Aboriginal people, etc. So, the merging of these laws at a federal level proved too difficult to take all in one step, and as such laws concerning railways, hospitals and the protection of Indigenous people were left to each State to manage respectively.
The main goal of a Federation of States was around the protection of the country and all its people within from those coming into the country. This is no clearer than in the extent and limitation of the Federal governments powers to be conferred.
Considering the State’s migration concerns, the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act s 51 (xxvi) – stated that the Federal government had power to make laws in respect to:
“the people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws.”
This section first removes the Aboriginal race as subjects of the federal powers, and then asserts power over all other people of any race for who it is deemed necessary to make special laws. The reason the aboriginal race had special exemption from being affected by this power becomes clearer with the first policy parliament enacted, which confirms the main concern and driver of federation. The Immigration Restriction Act of 1901. Which was exactly that, to restrict migration.
Although this Act was genuinely drafted and written to protect Australians including the Indigenous people from the negative impact of migrants, years later it would become effective in almost stopping all non-European migration to Australia which aided in building a more racially insulated society that was predominately European (white). This led to Australia’s policy being known for making Australia whiter.
White Australia Policy is often cited now days to insinuate that Australia was founded as a racist country, because it had a ‘White Australia policy’. However, a “White Australia policy” never existed. Rather the ‘term’ was later used to describe to a suite of federal policies that favoured and promoted a monoculture instead of a multi-culture.
The White Australia policy at its most innocent intention was a migration preference. That said, it was a convenient error for well-meaning people generations later to assume that the Indigenous people were the target of White Australia Policies because they weren’t white. But this was not true.
Rather, as a sovereign nation, Australia can impose whatever test they like on those seeking entry (migration) to their country. It’s very much liked a home owner (who is sovereign), having all right to choose whatever entry conditions they like to impose on those seeking to enter their home. If the homeowner chooses to only allow clowns into their home, or not allow clowns in their home, then that is their right. As such federal policies classed as white Australia policies were concerned only with migrants. Remember the Federal government’s power allowed them to only make laws that applied to “the people of any race, other than the aboriginal race”.
As such, the Aboriginal people were exempt from the federal powers of any “White Australia Policy”, but obviously not from the transfer and significant impact of Australia’s political beliefs at the time through to State policy. It was here that non-white people (no longer just immigrant) were treated as harmful to Australia’s way of life. Therefore, because of the colour of indigenous people’s skin, they were treated by their neighbours with a similar distain as was given to migrants. But this was not the only misunderstood impact.
Section 127 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, which was concerned with miscellaneous matters, excluded Indigenous Australians from Census population counts for constitutional purposes. Although this again sounds racist to people who know enough to have a strong opinion on the matter. But not enough to be correct. This policy must be contextualised and as such it must be remembered, that prior to federation, each Colony (State) already had their own Indigenous policies and systems of counting the State’s populations. Therefore, it made no sense to duplicate or transfer work already being done by the colonies, over to the federal government.
This idea is not fanciful, but rather even documented a decade earlier at a Constitution Conference in 1890, when Griffith QC stated that:
“There are some things which, it is quite clear, the separate provincial governments cannot do properly or efficiently, although they may do them in some sort of way, [but] it is not intended to transfer to the [federal] executive government anything which could be as well done by the separate governments of the colonies.”
Here was Griffith’s main point. In recognition of the Aborigines as Australia’s first peoples, they were not to be governed by federal powers and counting of the Indigenous populations which was left to the States. This was made clear in section 51 (xxxvi).
However, in retrospect, it’s easy to see that Federation meant that non-Indigenous citizens received equal rights and protections when travelling throughout any State in Australia, thereby giving them equality. Aboriginal people, as the First Nations people were not subject to Federal laws, and so were excluded from being counted because of their special status.
In addition, States made their own Indigenous polices, initially to protect the Indigenous people, but honestly, history records the execution of that policy by the States as it was not helpful from an Indigenous person’s understanding. For this, the States – at the time – were 100% responsible for what it became.
Unfortunately, there has been so much misinformation introduced into this narrative, told over and over for decades that it’s hard to even find truth that has not been tainted by emotion or ulterior motives. For example: the exclusion of the Aborigines in these two sections of the Constitution at this time in history has been regarded and often cited ever since as blatant racism and unequal rights for Indigenous people. But we must acknowledge that presentism holds a unique perspective on such history, and rewrites it as a rather harsh judgment, reframing the optics however they wish to suit the current telling of history and current goal.
As such, looking back can easily be reconstructed with a lack of effort to look like the Indigenous people were intentionally treated as second-class citizens because of their race and the colour of their skin. These claimants blame Federation, and the Constitution which they believe captures ground zero proof of Australia excluding and failing to recognise the First Nations people. Thomas Mayo and Kerry O’Brien’s book, ‘The Voice to Parliament – Handbook, does exactly this, repeatedly creating a theme of it.
However, all clocks in an historical photograph tell the time. What we must do is look at the intention of the Constitution’s framers at that time in which the photograph was taken.
The missing truth here was that Aborigines in 1901 were excluded in s 51 (xxvi) of the Constitution because of their “special status”. Meaning, as the native people of Australia, and not just a group of people or a race imported from other nations around the world. Australia’s Indigenous people were set apart from all other people, including the early settlers, and in doing so, the Indigenous people were recognised as special, and this was reflected in the wording and recorded in the Constitution.
In a strange way, this moment, where the government acknowledged and granted the Indigenous people seperate sovereign status, may have been their only moment to establish and launch Indigenous sovereignty, but was missed.
However, the problem and failing of this plan of separating out the Indigenous from the reach of Federal powers, was that the Federal government deferred anything concerning Indigenous people back to their respective State. This included the protection of the Indigenous people from the State in and of itself.
At its extreme, the Northern Territory introduced the Aboriginals Ordinance Act 1911, effectively making all Aboriginal people wards of the State, whereby the Chief Protector was empowered to undertake the care, custody or control of the Indigenous people and their families.
As such, section 51 (xxxvi) effectively also took the power away from the Federal government to protect or intervene with States in Aboriginal matters. That oversight meant that any inequality between States treatment of the Indigenous; their mistreatment, injustice, discrimination, or evil perpetrated against or targeted towards the indigenous people, the Federal government had no constitutional power to usurp.
This changed in 1969, when a national referendum was held and the voters of Australia amended the Constitution to confer power on the Commonwealth to make laws in relation to the Aboriginal people, including counting Aborigines in the census for the first time. This was the first time the Federal government took responsibility for the equal protection and well-being of Australia’s First Nations people.
It is the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 that gives the States and now Territories the authority and jurisdiction to verify the eligibility of voters. This meant, where a State or Territory had banned Indigenous people from being enrolled to vote, as in the Northern Territory because the Indigenous people were wards of the State, Aboriginal people could not vote.
The right to vote for Aboriginal and Torres Strait people came into effect in 1962 when the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1962 granted all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the option to enrol and vote in federal elections. But out of respect – though more likely lack of Federal power to make laws for the Indigenous people – the Federal government did not force the indigenous people to vote.
From there it was a slow migration for States and Territories over the next three years to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people equal voting rights across Australia, with Queensland being the last to do so in 1965. However, it was not until 1984 that the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Act 1983 made the responsibility to vote compulsory for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people forcing them to enrol, and to vote at federal elections, thus creating parity with all other electors and imposing equal voting rights and responsibilities, as well as equal citizenry status.
Simply, that much of the basis of historical arguments from the Yes campaigners in favour of a yes vote, are false, or intentionally inaccurate and misleading. Why, because there is no justification for discrimination based on race, let alone constitutionally enshrining a racial divide, where one race is elevated and given special title, privileges, and advantage over all other races. This is not a first-in-best-dressed playground anymore. It’s a modern global stage and equality prevails.
As such, this kind of logic manipulates and argues in favour of a ‘foot-in-the-door’ approach or ‘no-further-details-required’ just trust me con. Either way, both withholding facts and holding back the truth from you. They deploy an emotional appeal to make the case in favour of recognition in the constitution. However, once the foot is in the door this triggers an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and with it, all the money, power and privilege that flows to that race only.
Simply, a YES vote will change the Constitution again, but not to achieve equality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people under law. This already exists.
It’s rather ironic, but a yes vote triggers the reintroduction of inequality, racism, and second-class citizenry back into the Constitution; whereby the Voice has power to intercept all policy which now becomes viewed first through an Indigenous lens and outcomes hijacked, and remain favoured towards an Indigenous outcome.
In fact, it could be argued that if the Voice is successful, the Voice will be the birth of the beginning of a Black Australia Policy.
NO! that’s incorrect. Stating a fact based on a part truth is misleading. Here is why. I’m a white person and I’m not responsible for any of the harms Indigenous people have suffered from any time in Aboriginal history; and I’d guess 99.99% of all other living white Australians haven’t either. To state, imply, or mislead people to the opinion that “white people” have harmed the Indigenous lacks integrity and truth, and is a racist statement.
That said, the harms Indigenous people suffered during settlement, Federation, and for some time beyond likely were caused by white people, as well as non-white migrants too. However, it’s important to recognise and know that those people who caused the harms to the Indigenous people aren’t alive today.
So, it would not be true to say that “white people” have done horrible things to the Indigenous people. Instead, the non-racist way you should say this is that horrible people have done horrible things to the Indigenous People.
We often hear the Indigenous elites paint beautiful pictures of pre-settlement Indigenous history. Respect for women, fierce dangerous once-were-warriors kind of men, sparkling children raised by a village, where babies are cherished and birth stories of ceremony, connection to country. A people bathing in an Indigenous Garden of Eden of tranquility harmoniously with country and kin. But this utopia lived in peace, harmony, and celebration of ceremony is just not historically possible. Particularly given the barbaric savagery and violence required by the Indigenous people to migrate in harsh, primitive, and primal conditions all the way to Australia through hostile and tribal New Guinea. Also having to then protect their language group and kin from other language groups and threats seeking scarce resources to feed their own kin.
As such, although suppressed, there are authenticated first-hand accounts, reports and observations of pre contact Indigenous people, recording the horrible things that Indigenous people did to their own kin and also to other language groups, both known as the Indigenous people.
Australia’s premier Indigenous historian Geoffrey Blainey in The Story of Australia’s People, states:
“The new and very large Cambridge History of Australia … rightly denounces the massacres of Aborigines in the sheep lands but ignores the massacres of Aborigines by neighbouring Aborigines in the near and distant past.”
Furthermore, you’d be called a racist to state that the Indigenous people also attacked and killed early settlers. Furthermore, there are historical accounts that a pre contact Indigenous Australia was harsh, barbaric, hostile, and violent. As such, I’ll restrain myself here from making a clearer or stronger point on the matter and set truth-telling aside for now.
In my early twenties I travelled to Mexico to help a local mission team working on the dumps of Tijuana. In my mind, being from a more established, wealthy, and civilised society, I wanted that for them also. I had seen children eating rotten food taken from the dumps and out of bins, living in boxes and drinking brown water. I wanted to save these children and find a way to take them out of the dumps and give them what they were missing. However, I quickly learned that the culture, family group or environment that you were born into is all you know. If we were to thrust a child into a whole other world just because we think it is better for them, this process alone could harm them beyond their ability to recover.
It’s called a saviour complex. I had assumed that a child from the Tijuana dumps would be happier in Australia in a house with green grass, clear water and with a life like mine, rather than on a dirt floor under a third-generation leaky iron roof and scraps for food. But I was wrong. Although I didn’t relocate any children, that was not why I was there, it was one of the learnings that was taking place in my mind as I came alongside Mexicans and helped them repair their decrepit homes; letting them lead and teach me how to build and repair buildings and things their way.
This was extremely difficult for me as I was an advanced tradesman at the time who had worked on building sites, building to the Australian building codes and knew why you had to build things that way; largely so that they didn’t fall on top of people and harm or kill them. As such, doing things to a less standard was very frustrating, and seemed backwards and against all I knew. But that was what the work required to provide them the help that they wanted, and not just what I wanted to give.
Similarly, it is an indictment on all Australians both the non-indigenous people and Indigenous Political Elite, that Indigenous people largely as a whole race have been forced to be measured against the European or modern civilised Australian benchmarks of happiness, homes, wealth, success, education, family, and existence. Because that is what the equal outcomes of socialism tells us is equality. But shouldn’t equal-opportunity, or choice be enough? Or do we need to force everyone to take up the same opportunities as us as well?
This is why, modern ideas like “recognition”, “reconciliation”, “reparations”, “the Voice”, “truth”, and “Treaty”, – which have come from Indigenous academia and their global observations of other Indigenous populations gaining power, control and money – have led the Indigenous Political Elite of Australia to force change towards a civilised way of being onto their own people, i.e., “closing the gaps”.
For me it was a very difficult thing to not help those that I assessed as needing help. But in truth, most non-academic Indigenous people I speak to say they just want to be left alone. Now one could pose the question, do you ask a drowning man if they want to be saved? Instead, you would just save them, but isn’t this the saviour complex in action again?
Perhaps, the Indigenous Industry, who blames white people, need to be completely disassembled and each person – regardless of race, culture, or other attribute, be set free to choose to close their gaps or just be left alone. Perhaps we have been led up the garden path, chasing cultural appropriation, reinforced with guilt from all those welcomes to country that we suffer, when all we should have been focused on, is meeting an individual’s need.
The ‘old’ Noel Pearson in 2012 perhaps said it best.
“As long as the allowance of racial discrimination remains in our Constitution, it continues, in both subtle and unsubtle ways, to affect our relationships with each other. Though it has historically hurt my people more than others, racial categorisations dehumanise us all. It dehumanises us because we are each individuals, and we should be judged as individuals. We should be rewarded on our merits and assisted in our needs. Race should not matter.”
Both yes and no. Yes, it was a recognition of harm, but only a perpetrator can accept blame and reconcile. I fully understand that “recognition” under these understandings seems like an honourable thing to do in acknowledging the past impact of settlement and learning of the detrimental impact of Indigenous people’s experience throughout their history. However, all perpetrators of this impact are dead, and so ‘compensation’ is a moot point. It would be like compensating all convicts, stolen from England and settled in Australia compensating them with the lands that their family walked on back in England.
As such, recognition in the form of a special voice to parliament does and was designed to do one thing. Create constitutional change to reintroduce race distinctions between citizens of Australia, just like back in 1901, dividing Australians into one of two categories:
i. the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia, and
ii. the non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia.
Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people by way of the Voice to Parliament will create a new chapter in Australia’s Constitution:
Chapter IX – Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to the Constitution.
This new chapter would include a new section 129, which would be as follows:
129 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice
In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:
i. there shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
ii. the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
iii. the Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers, and procedures.
This race-based chapter is not about “recognition”. Look at the wording. It clearly states, “In recognition of…“. Meaning what? Well, in recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of Australia, we grant you i. ii. iii.
The i. ii. iii. are special race-based privileges that give an elite group of unknown Indigenous people (to be known as the Voice), special race-based powers (to be defined later), but will also make a special race-based voice to parliament without actually being elected to Parliament by Australia’s electors; as it is a constitutional requirement all other parliamentary voices or representatives to Parliament who aren’t Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
In summary. A yes for the Voice grants changes to constitutional power to allow racial discrimination against non-Indigenous citizens, while favouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander citizens.
In short, yes!
Watch this for example. If I take the original 1901 wording of section 51 (xxvi) and just cross out the limitation of State. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander VOICE would simply be:
The Federal government [Parliament] have power to make laws in respect to:
“the people of any race, other than the aboriginal race
in any statefor whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws.”
Ironic? A little too much so, me thinks. But according to the yes campaign, this is racial progress. But to me, this just looks like pay back.
Yes! The difference in meaning between ‘in recognition of’ and being ‘recognised‘ could not be more profound or impacting on us all.
Firstly, ‘Recognising’ the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Nations people is akin, (for example) to recognising all the hard work that front-line workers undertook during the recent fires, and in recognition of this effort, here’s an official acknowledgment of recognition, clap clap clap. That’s your new title, and we’re back to racial equality.
Whereas “In recognition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Nations People…”? well this is like receiving an award or an honour in recognition of… your military service, for example: here is a Victoria Cross, which comes with a title and a bunch of money/power/privilege. This is exactly what “in recognition of …”, triggers for the Voice. A string of Constitutional titles, powers, privileges, and it lets flow the flood gates on race-based claims of this and that. In recognition of… transfers power to the indigenous people and gives the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice a blank cheque.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have already been recognised and acknowledged as being the First Nations people. This is their “special status”. There is not one person living in Australia who would deny this fact. But to test that point, you can get clearer evidence of the existence of enduring acknowledgement and in recognition of the Indigenous people by Australia’s Parliament, in how much money Parliament gives to the First Nations People every year.
An eye watering 33+ billion dollars, that’s about $45,000 per Indigenous person per year, which is more than double that which is spent on non-indigenous Australians per person per year. That’s twice as much “voice” happening there for the indigenous people than non-indigenous. Well 33 billion dollars just doesn’t fall from a tree:
i. it has been asked for;
ii. they have to have been heard loud and clear; and
iii. it has to have been given.
If that’s not evidence of a Voice already in action, then I’m not sure what is, but still the Indigenous Political Elites don’t feel heard, and the gaps get wider.
In my opinion, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice campaign is 100% all about bypassing the the Rule of Law concerning being elected to Parliament. The framers of the Uluru Statement of the Heart understand that this offence and discrimination can’t happen unless there is an appeal from the heart. The Uluru Statement of the Heart is exactly that, the emotional story designed to appeal to your heart strings so that you ignore all other logic, breaches of the rule of law, or discriminations and just vote yes!
Thomas Mayo, a Voice statement architect states in his book The Voice to Parliament handbook – All the detail you need; that the Uluru statement from the heart “involved thousands of First Nations people”.
Yet I hear report after report of people randomly asking their local indigenous people on the street about “the voice” and they say “they [the Voice campaigners] don’t speak for us”. And it turns out statistically, they’re right.
At the last Census, there was a total of 812,728 indigenous people living in Australia. Even if we generously say as many as 10,000 or even 15,000 Indigenous people were consulted and/or spoke into the Uluru Statement from the Heart, that leaves 99.98% of Indigenous people who weren’t consulted or a part of the voice formation and voice in general.
So, when one of the 99.98% of Indigenous people – not consulted, or part of the voice gravy train – say that the Voice people don’t speak for us. Can we, in truth, really believe that an Indigenous Voice to Parliament would be any different, when 99.98% of first Nations people weren’t heard and had no voice in the voice in the first place?
In 2015‑16, the direct government expenditure on Indigenous Australians was $33.4 billion, and represents twice as much as was spent on non-indigenous individuals. In 2023, this figure is significantly higher, and self-determination or responsibility for service delivery has never been more in the hands of Indigenous people.
Simply, the more I dig into the Indigenous issues, funding, and the results of the spend and effort, the clearer the problem becomes for me. And that is, those people seeking a special voice to parliament with special race privileges attached, have already been speaking and heard, and they have been very well funded for the last few decades.
Those indigenous people left out of the indigenous industry, Uluru Statement from the Heart, and likely the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice are the ones to have been left behind to fall into the gaps that the voice now measure to justify why more voice and money is needed.
Well, the harsh reality concerning Indigenous funding, is that its success or failure – since Kevin 07 – is 100% in the hands of the self-determined Indigenous Community Corporations: their management; programs; and their dispersal of the indigenous money to meet the needs of the First Nations people. If there are gaps, then their management is to blame.
A Voice to parliament is justified only by a belief in a generational-entitlement to reparations or pursuit of white-penance for the exhumed past historical events like colonialism and federalism and the negative impact of policies, since first contact. Simply termed racism.
The Indigenous people here claim that the manifestation of direct and indirect racist beliefs, behaviours, and practices both perpetuate and aggravate disparity of opportunity – over more than a century – and have disempowered and disabled their people and removed their voice or ability to self-determine. A quick study of Aboriginal activism, particularly now, and you can see this belief reconstructed into a narrative of being owed something because they are descended from those who suffered something, and therefore they have suffered the legacy also.
Now there is some truth in this psychologically concerning intergenerational cumulative trauma. However, these harms are usually contained within a family unit and not everyone from a whole race, like there is a trauma gene or trauma inheritance impacting them equally at an individual level. This seems all too convenient and self-serving of the elements required to reward a desired outcome.
In addition, the fact that most of the racism literature dismisses or fails to address or include any comparison of intergenerational or individual harm from racism for non-indigenous people, is revealing. Some may say, proof that white people don’t suffer racism, which would be a racist and ignorant belief to maintain. However, the notion, campaign, and desire for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to parliament is actually – case in point – racism against non-indigenous people.
For me, this logic and belief in ongoing inter-generational racism impacting and disabling an entire race, ever since first contact with white people til now, is quite disturbing. Perhaps, in and of itself, this belief alone, or its embellished retelling is what gives shackles to new victims who embrace the narrative and entrenches them in generational dysfunction for as long as it’s retold.
There are many studies of victims, totally disabled, suffering poorer health, living standards, and life expectancy while attending to servitude in victimhood. Sadly, the Indigenous victimhood narrative serves much like an enduring victim impact statement which is necessary to warrant reparations for harm; seeking compensation from the descendants of perpetrators, generations on, because of the white colour of their skin.
Imagine if all the descendants of pre or post settlement convicts, or WWII Jews were seeking generational reparations from the English and German people living now because they felt their current disadvantage and lower performance was directly related to historical and generational harm causing disadvantage and less opportunity.
What about the dispossessed Irish people and their 700-year plight? Or the Christians murdered for sport by the Romans thousands of years ago, and thousands still martyred now? What about the reality that in nearly every other human group of people the world over, all have suffered? It seems to be a human disposition. However, not all humans are holding onto or pursuing claims of generational backpay while their current generation is suffering because of their pursuit.
I understand the impacts of discrimination and racism, we are told and retold those impact statements all the time and often at every welcome to country. But we also can’t be so blind or stoic to only see the logic that we want to believe here.
A victim simply cannot move on and be triumphant if they believe they are owed compensation as subconsciously they have to play and maintain the victim role.
Only a few years back, Black Lives Matter, or at least the Australian reincarnation blindly chanted and held signs “There’s no room for racism in Australia”. On that point alone, I agreed. However, to avoid being hypocrites, if there’s “no room for racism in Australia” then surely that includes our Parliament and if so, then there’s no room for racism in Australia’s Constitution and as such, no room for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament introduces special rights. It introduces special freedoms, and introduces special privileges based on race only. It therefore dismally fails to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the Rule of Law.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 2, states:
“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.”
As such, an Indigenous voice to parliament is a fundamental breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and therefore Australia’s anti-discrimination legislation concerning race.
The Rule of law is that the law applies to everyone, regardless of their position, status and certainly race.
As such The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice asks Australians to vote to change the Constitution so that the rule of law is broken or doesn’t apply to them. Specifically, our parliament is made up of elected members, representatives (without any further qualification) who form a parliament and have a direct voice in Parliament. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice bypasses this application of the Rule of Law and instead, says based on race only, they want the Constitution changed so that only Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have a non-elected voice to parliament. This establishes within the Constitution racial inequality and that of a second-class citizenry.
To explain, our Parliament is technically the ultimate expression of the rule of law, which primarily means that every citizen of Australia has equal opportunity to all other citizens to be nominated by electors as a candidate for election; and, if elected, to provide representation for their electors in parliament – regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, identity, attribute, special interest or lobby group or any other test.
Therefore, giving an elite group of indigenous people a special Blak-only voice to parliament based solely on the qualification of race, and without being ‘elected’ to parliament, is grossly offensive, discriminatory, and reprehensible. If not, thought impossible until now, but here we are.
Giving any group of people – by race, sex, religion, sexuality or any other attribute or special interest – a special voice to parliament – based solely on that identity, would be no different to changing the constitution to give the LGBT, Muslim, or Australian Motorist people a special voice to Parliament. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice discriminates, and discriminates based on race, therefore condones racism.
Ask yourself, if you believe that past racism caused the present harms facing the Indigenous people, then racism certainly should have no place in Australia’s future.
Not true. The indigenous population of Australia is 3.8%. In the current 47th Parliament there are eleven parliamentarians who strongly identify as Indigenous or as having Indigenous heritage. This represents an existing Indigenous voice to parliament of over 4.85% of parliament which is 1.27 times the voice and representation of the Indigenous population. Job done, I’d say.
As such, any further pursuit of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament by introducing race discrimination power is nothing more than an emotionalised money, power, and privilege grab by the Indigenous political elite.
Honestly, let’s look at the facts. In 2013, a high school dropout and self-professed bum, known as Ricky Lee Muir was put on the ballot to represent the fledgling Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party in the Federal Election for Senate. On a primary vote of just 17,122 primary votes (or 0.51%), Ricky Lee Muir was elected to the Senate as the voice of the Australian Motorist Party.
If the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party can coordinate to work out how to get Ricky elected and as a result be granted a voice in parliament as a representative, with no money, no people, and no prior platform, surely the Indigenous Political Elite with all that money, platform, goodwill, and people, can get their voice in the same way, by being elected to parliament.
I will be voting No for all the reasons that I have spoken about above. However, my responsibility as a citizen of this country doesn’t stop the day after election day and I can’t abdicate knowing things either. I acknowledge that there has been so many unfortunate decisions, policies, advice, and performance of those elements, even by the Indigenous organisations, over the decade of decades that have negatively impacted on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, probably more so than others.
My concern here is that voting no to the Voice is only a rejection of the Voice. It is in no way a rejection of the Indigenous people also.
One good thing from this referendum process is that my compassion and desire to help the Indigenous self-discover has never been higher.
We all know that the apology didn’t do anything. I’m not even really sure what they, who ever they were, thought Kevin 07’s apology would or could change. There was such a big deal and build up made of it. We were all now almost half expecting Kevy to do a magic trick. Then after it came out and went, nothing changed for the Indigenous people.
Then there was the big Indigenous funding boom and Aboriginal Community Corporations, self-determination, or self-directed services, all by Indigenous people for Indigenous people. But that too turned out largely a failure. I remember the Indigenous smoking cessation funding campaign “no durry for this furry” and after years and hundreds of millions of dollars, smoking increased.
It’s fact now, that after hundreds of billions of indigenous dollars thrown at the “gaps”, and used to build an Indigenous industry, the gaps just got wider, and still nothing changed for the Indigenous.
We then saw black lives matter roll into town. Most of you probably popped your little black insta or black facebook square up quickly so as not to be called a racist or bullied by white people seeking pinnacle woke status. So, I popped up a white square, with no other words, just thought I’d be the point of difference in a sea of black squares. But BLM were all just interested in themselves, yelling, screaming, and wrecking stuff. Again, no change for the Indigenous.
Then came the Voice to parliament. I know the voice sounds like a saviour. Apparently, it can fix anything. A flat tyre? yes! The voice will fix it. Replacing that dirt floor and that tin shack with a mini house? Yes! The Voice can fix it.
But as Johnny sings, “We’re the voice”. I guess if you understand that, as in “we-are” then you’ll realise that anything that is not “we” is going to result in division.
But if you are really listening here, there is heartbreak coming from the Indigenous people.
Not the public ones dressed in fine clothes, and living in mansions out visiting their poor cousins, sure they will be disappointed as they are all looking for that legacy ATM; but I’m talking about the real – voiceless – Indigenous people, the 99.98%.
Now I’ve read hundreds of Voice articles designed to emotionally appeal to the “us”. They start with the plight of the Indigenous and some lament of helplessness, being owed and the hero of the Voice coming to save them. Many of these are horrible stories of adversity, disadvantage, cruelty, inherited generational trauma and impacts, which apparently the Voice would-have, could-have, will fix. Well, crickey!
The truth here is that the Voice has been built up to be so much that it really has no other place to go but down.
If it’s a yes – the Voice fails because it can’t possibly live up to all the things that it has sold to electors; and certainly, will disappoint the voiceless Indigenous people confused about what it all is anyway.
If it’s a no – the Voice fails because the indigenous who had their hope built up into it as the next thing, will have lost all hope yet again.
I can’t help but think that this all along has been ‘our’ problem, not just their problem. I know learned helplessness, substance misuse and abuse are hard issues to navigate, deal with or understand, and maybe that’s why many Indigenous people are suffering such things, and multiple things all at the same time and so can’t move beyond step one. But “we” all still have a responsibility to do something.
Now to be honest, when my work intersected with the Indigenous community members on an individual or situational level, it was always clearly articulated to me that I’m a “white-man” and that they don’t want my help.
The truth was, I didn’t really realise I was a white man until I started working with indigenous people who told me in every sentence. Sadly, I looked on as they clearly couldn’t help themselves and their own lips failed them too. It seemed self-destructive to ignore white help because that is what you’ve been taught to believe, that’s the narrative. But that is how entrenched the racism motif actually is, and one way it genuinely creates a gap not from opportunity, but simply failing to accept because of race. I think that is what victimhood is for many of the Indigenous people.
For me personally. What is clear here is that “The Voice” or the Voice campaign, aka the Indigenous political elite, is not the 99.98% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who sit in the gaps and have not been heard. Somehow, we all need to take steps to change that fact. I think that starts by turning the focus, media and voice away from the Indigenous elites and academia and instead go to where the people in the gaps are at. There is no place in Australia’s future for super heroes with a saviour complex. We need more good samaritans.
All in all, it’s my prayer that when this vote is all said and done; and the voice is found to be a success or failure, that we set a new course and charter a way that no longer sees the Indigenous people by their special status of the first peoples, but by just simply ‘one of us’, all acting to meet the needs of each other with whatever we can do, wherever we can do it, and for whoever needs it, when they need it.
All for one and one for all.
God Bless, Tony.
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