divisive Voice

Say No to the Divisive Voice

4 July 2023

6.6 MINS

Why we must soundly reject the racist Voice.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the Left are having real trouble in getting Australians to support their divisive and racist “Voice” referendum. Public support for it is dropping, and Labor is in a quandary as to how to get things moving in their preferred direction.

But there are very good reasons why support is declining. Many have already made the ‘no’ case, including myself. See my earlier piece.

As I said there, plenty of Indigenous leaders have come out strongly against the Voice. For example, Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has been a key critic of it. She has even set up a new website, Fair Australia. The site says this in part:

The Voice is Expensive

Every Australian believes Indigenous communities deserve significant financial support. But currently, we spend more on direct government funding for Aboriginal Australians than we do on the NDIS, Medicare or Defence — almost $40 billion a year, or $100 million a day. And yet for decades there has been almost no discernible improvement in the lives of Indigenous Australians. If the NDIS or Medicare were delivering outcomes as bad as this for $100 million a day, there would be a Royal Commission, not a Voice to Parliament.

The Voice is Not Fair

The activists behind the Voice have had their chance and now enough is enough. Aboriginal Australians do not need a taxpayer funded lobby group written into the heart of our Constitution. There are already too many culture warriors in this country — in the public service, in our sport, in our schools, and in our workplaces. They’ve come for Australia Day, and they’re coming for more. The Voice will mean they have the constitutional right to do so. It’s time we said, enough.

Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO has penned a piece on this: “10 Myths about the Voice”. Here is just one such myth:

4.     The Voice will be only advisory, courts won’t give it power

The Voice will have a constitutional right to advise every Minister, public servant and agency on everything from submarines to tax to interest rates to climate policy to parking tickets. Consultation rights are coercive because decisions can be litigated on the grounds of the processes followed and/or information considered.

Constitutional Expert Group member Professor Greg Craven says Albanese’s Voice “absolutely guarantees judicial intervention”. NZ courts transformed the Waitangi Tribunal from merely advisory to dictating government decisions. I believe it’s only a matter of time before the Voice even runs roughshod over traditional owner autonomy over their own lands.

Indian-born commentator Ramesh Thakur is also worried about the Voice:

US Chief Justice John Roberts holds, ‘The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.’ Conversely, the best way to harden and institutionalise racial identity is to carve it into the constitution.

The Voice will entrench the soft bigotry of low expectations that regards Aboriginal people — the many and growing examples to the contrary notwithstanding — as permanent state dependants who are incapable of ever looking after themselves.

It will vastly complicate Australia’s challenge of effective and timely governance in the national interest for the common good. Born of conceptual confusion, the Voice speaks not to all Australians’ better angels but to some white Australians’ guilt complex. Thanks, but No thanks.

Politicians have also declared their deep concerns. Alex Antic, for example, has said this:

The Voice represents nothing more than a healthy dose of identity politics which will achieve nothing for Aboriginal people. It will be used by career activists, woke elites and Canberra-based bureaucrats to gain political power and disrupt the passing of legislation by democratically elected governments.

Writing race into our constitution is an insult to our Parliament, suggesting instead that it isn’t presently suitable to represent Aboriginal people. I oppose the Voice and I am very hopeful that the Liberal Party will do the same.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it would divide Australia “on the basis of ancestry”. He went on to say:

“I think it’s a mistake to give about 4 per cent of the population more of a say about how our government and parliament works than everyone else. I think that giving this Voice a right to make representations effectively to everyone on everything is going to make government much more difficult than it already is.”

The current leader of the opposition Peter Dutton has also warned against support for the Voice given how little we actually know about it:

Until the Prime Minister can explain properly what the voice is it shouldn’t proceed, there’s bipartisanship support at the moment for constitutional recognition. That is the right and decent thing to do, and I would sit down with the Prime Minister tomorrow to work that up and put it to the Australian public in October. But the Australian public is not ready for the Voice because the Prime Minister hasn’t given them the detail and Australians won’t vote for something they don’t understand.

Many Christian leaders have also expressed their concerns. For example, Christian commentator Kurt Mahlburg said this about the radical roots of the Voice:

The Voice to Parliament’s radical underpinnings have been exposed in newly surfaced tweets and videos this week from “Yes” activist Thomas Mayo. The Voice to Parliament’s “Yes” campaign has already hit turbulence following revelations one of its chief campaigners, Thomas Mayo, has strong communist sympathies.

This week, videos were unearthed of Mayo speaking at online forums of the Search Foundation, established in 1990 as the successor to the Communist Party of Australia, as well as at in-person Invasion Day and Black Lives Matter rallies. In one such clip, the union official and self-described “militant” pays his respects to “the elders of the Communist Party who I think without a doubt have played a very important role in our activism”.

Earlier this year, Dr Stephen Chavura offered ten reasons to say no to the Voice. Here are just four of them:

6. Discussion of the Voice has often led to a discussion of a separate and sovereign Indigenous nation in Australia — a Treaty. Indeed, this Voice is seen by many of its engineers as another step closer to two Australias. Two Australias will in reality be non-Indigenous Australians perpetually funding a failed Indigenous state.

7. The so-called Voice will eventually turn into a perpetual call for a Treaty, a Treaty that Australians will never allow, which means the Voice will eventually merely stoke cynicism and resentment among younger Indigenous Australians. It will make social divisions and integration worse, not better.

8. The Uluru Statement from the Heart disgracefully tells Indigenous Australians that they are powerless over their own lives and destinies unless there is this Voice. What a horrible thing to say to a whole generation of Aboriginal Australians. The Statement is thoughtless, lying, and destructive.

9. The Voice and Statement further entrench the idea of two separate and opposed nations, which will dissuade Indigenous Australians from integrating into mainstream Australian “colonist” (“white”) culture. But the only way the Gap will ever be closed is through more integration.

Much more recently, he dealt with a pro-case from another Christian figure in Australia. The closing paragraphs of this quite lengthy and detailed rebuttal deserve a wide hearing:

In his book The Politics of Suffering, Peter Sutton writes these sobering words:

“To hold out to those suffering the grim realities of certain Indigenous communities the expectation that they will be safer, healthier, less arrested, because of the contracting of a formal Reconciliation package is to offer them goanna oil. Surely by now we understand that to peddle the grand national gesture as a cure for early renal failure and child abuse is not just whimsy-minded, it is dangerous mumbo jumbo. And it distracts from urgent reality.”

Sadly, I believe the same to be true about the Voice — and sadly, I am disappointed that church leaders and public intellectuals have been some of its quickest and most enthusiastic supporters. I believe that bringing the Voice to a referendum with such uncertainty concerning its success is among of the most irresponsible things to have occurred politically in the last four decades.

I would include the Uluru Statement itself in this charge of irresponsibility. The Uluru Statement speaks of Indigenous “powerlessness”, and it looks forward to a time “When we have power over our destiny …”. In other words, it seeks to convince Indigenous Australians that the Voice and a treaty are their only hope out of apparent hopelessness. But did anyone — especially Christians leaders — consider how the very Indigenous Australians who embraced these promises and believed these words will feel in the event that the Voice referendum fails? What feelings of betrayal, hopelessness, and cynicism will follow? I think we’ll soon find out.

Australians are instinctively skittish of radical change, and a majority voted No to incorporating a reference to Indigenous Australians in the Preamble in the 1999 referendum. How much more will they reject a constitutional Voice that will be demanding a treaty. The trajectory of public opinion in favour of it is downwards, with the latest poll indicating only 49 per cent of Australians would vote Yes. I think that, in the short term, the defeat of the Voice will be a bitter drink for Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations, but its defeat will spare us even more bitterness and division in the long run if it had succeeded.

As commendable as Michael Jensen’s defence of the Voice is, it has left me even more convinced that this Voice is not only not the way forward, but would be the beginning of a new regression — this time, a constitutionally enshrined one. I cannot see how a constitutional change that is already creating national division, as well as division among Indigenous Australians, and of which we have little reason to think will even do much to close the gap of disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and which will demand a divisive treaty between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, could possibly be an act of Christian love towards Indigenous Australians.

Plenty of other resources are available, including this booklet.

There are very good reasons for the decline in public support for this divisive and unnecessary referendum. If you want a fair and united Australia, vote ‘no’ on the Voice.

And you can sign a petition on this here.

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Originally published at CultureWatch. Photo by cottonbro studio.

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One Comment

  1. Ian Moncrieff. 4 July 2023 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    Another one of the many good pieces of information detailing the “No” position. I fully concur – because I love the Aboriginal people of Australia – fellow citizens of mine.

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