The Voice in Our Heads

5 April 2023

3 MINS

It’s in! The deals are done and the compromises are made. The wording is announced. We’re going to have a referendum.

On 23 March 2023, the Prime Minister revealed the wording of the question that will be put to Australians later in the year. Flanked by some Federal ministers and Aboriginal members of the Referendum Working Group, Mr Albanese made an emotional appeal urging Australians to vote “Yes”.

But put aside the tearful emotionalism! What is the substance? What is the truth?

The Wording – Still Lacking in Detail

Australians will be asked:

“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?”

If a majority of Australians vote in favour of the Voice, the Constitution would be amended as follows:

  1. There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
  2. 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;
  3. 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.

Mr Albanese said the constitutional provisions would enshrine the two “fundamental” and simple principles of recognition and consultation.

The Truth – Not Lacking Consultation

Probably the majority of Australians would be willing to include a reference to “the First Peoples” in the Constitution. Perhaps in the preamble, where there is already a passing reference to “Almighty God”.

Recognition is not really contentious. It’s the mechanism to achieve such recognition. Only one mechanism is being proposed.

Establishing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice!

And enshrining this bureaucratic “body” in the Constitution, where it cannot be dismantled even if it proves to be ineffective in accomplishing its objectives.

In reality, Section 51 (xxvi) of the Constitution already grants the Federal Parliament the authority to enact laws for “the people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws”. The Parliament can already set up a “body” to “make representations… on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”.

And, in fact, it already has! There are more than 3,000 agencies and bureaucracies promoting Aboriginal issues. For example, as one among many, there’s the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), founded on 1 July 2019. It is an Australian Government agency responsible for whole-of-government coordination of policy development, program design, and service delivery for Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It currently costs taxpayers $160,000,000 per year, employs 1,200 people, and operates 39 offices across the country. Within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the NIAA’s charter is virtually identical to what is being proposed for the Voice.

 

There’s already plenty of consultation!

And every year, billions of tax-payer dollars are spent in maintaining these bureaucratic bodies and the 30 land councils.

So much for the myth that Aboriginal people do not have access to the Government to communicate their concerns and address their issues!

The Problem – Lacking in Fairness

It is from our Judeo-Christian heritage that we develop a concept of fairness. Of all people being of equal value. Of each person’s opinions mattering.

Genesis tells us that we are all descendants of the first two God-created human beings. Genesis tells us that we are all descendants of Noah and his sons and daughters-in-law.

Acts 17:26 tells us that God “made from one man every nation of mankind”.

Jesus commanded, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

Paul emphasised that, for those who are “in Christ Jesus”, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28).

James criticised those who showed special favouritism to some people on the basis of particular characteristics – he specifically referred to wealth, but the principle could be applied more broadly (James 2:1–4).

As these Biblical truths permeated the mindset of societies, the importance and value of the individual was elevated. Each person was significant. Regardless of ethnic background, of social standing, of gender, of wealth, of intelligence, or of personal achievement, each person was of value.  Equal value!

The proposed Voice stands in stark contrast to the concept of fairness!

Its proponents might speak about fairness, respect, and good manners. But the problem is that the Voice grants special privileges to one group of Australians, based solely on their ethnic heritage.

That’s not fair! In fact, that’s a form of apartheid!

We do not need this Voice in our heads! Nor in our nation!

___

Photo by Rachel Claire.

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5 Comments

  1. Jim Twelves 5 April 2023 at 7:14 am - Reply

    Brian, brilliant, Biblical piece. Thank you for adding your voice to the debate. I do hope there is a deep deliberate debate if we are to have a referendum, rather than wave upon wave of virtue championships.

  2. Leonie Robson 5 April 2023 at 9:00 am - Reply

    Well said and thoroughly explained.
    NO to the Voice.

  3. Kaylene Emery 5 April 2023 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    Absolutely No to the voice and thank you for your work Brian !

  4. Stephen Brinton 9 April 2023 at 8:01 am - Reply

    Hi Brian, a good article (as we’re your other ones). Clearly and carefully explained with a convincing argument to vote ‘No’ !

  5. John Squires 21 April 2023 at 11:10 am - Reply

    Sheer bigotry. So sad.

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