the Voice

Diversity on the Voice Wanted? Done!

2 March 2023

2.6 MINS

The more Prime Minister Anthony Albanese talks about the Voice referendum as being a fait accompli, the more suspicions he risks raising among everyday Australians about what exactly is attempted at being changed.

Voters are being told they will “feel better about themselves” when they wake up the day after the referendum having voted in favour of the Voice; they are being told things like it will be “good for their soul”.

Yet it remains far from clear at this point what the Voice will do, how it will work, and what it will achieve beyond a symbolic gesture to Indigenous Australians.

Never before have such arguments been used to try to persuade people about a proposed change to the fundamental blueprint of the nation’s democracy.

Pure Waffle

Albanese chose the inner-city suburb of Petersham in Sydney to hold a barbecue to launch the “yes” campaign — designed to show normalcy and to de-politicise the process.

“This should be the moment where we come together as a nation,” he said, apparently somewhat tone-deaf to the bitter politics that is engulfing the left in his own progressive side of politics.

In an effort to explain what the referendum is about, Albanese sought to distil it down to two concepts. “It’s about recognition and it’s about consultation,” he said. “That is what it’s about. And that’s what we need to deliver.”

However, the more Albanese talks in vagaries, the more confusion prevails.

The Opposition’s position is also very unclear, with Peter Dutton refusing to declare his position as he too is torn between his conservative base and inner-city Liberals who want to embrace “reconciliation”.

Leftist Opposition

Senator Lidia Thorpe’s dramatic split from the Greens has unleashed the radical left, exemplified by the Student Representative Council at Sydney University (Albanese’s Alma Mater) standing up against the Voice.

As reported in The Australian, a student council meeting erupted in chaos recently after students from the “notoriously woke” Socialist Alternative refused to pass a motion to support the Voice.

“The meeting went past midnight and it was as if the Socialist Alternative — who held the majority of votes in the room — were going to hold people up for as long as they could,” the report said. “They kept saying ‘We don’t support a Voice, we don’t support a Voice. We need a treaty’.”

Albanese says that for 122 years, we [sic] have made decisions in the national and state capitals without giving proper consultation and respect to the people on the ground. “You get better outcomes when you get buy-in, when you talk to people about what their needs are,” he said.

But consultation with local Indigenous groups is now done on almost every conceivable activity, from new roads and developments, to policing and healthcare.

Breeding More Division

Psychiatrist and author Tanveer Ahmed, who has worked with Indigenous groups, recently wrote a piece in The Australian Financial Review, in which he said “the problem” needing to be fixed must be more than the fact that white Australia had failed to “listen” sufficiently.

“As indicated by the large cohorts of Aborigines who joined the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, the Voice to Parliament brings together many of the most dangerous aspects of imported identity politics,” Ahmed wrote.

“This includes an Aboriginal exceptionalism, as a marginalised group who claim a unique consciousness that is worthy of unique accommodations. There is a strong psychological component as it elevates the subjective experience.

“There is an element of political farce as Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal elites engage in a dance to argue that a constitutionally enshrined advisory body will offer anything new and different.

“Rather than encourage agency and practical solutions to complex problems, it will only entrench a victimhood that sees any kind of embrace of modernity as fealty to the colonial oppressor.”

Despite Albanese’s confidence that this is a done deal, there is a long road yet to walk on whether the referendum will succeed as he expects it will.

___

Originally published in News Weekly. Photo by Lara Jameson.

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