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Is Australia Too Dumb, Drunk or Racist to Vote ‘Yes’?

Of course we're not, but it got your attention.

By Steve Trotter

Posted on 17th September 2023

What is the Voice to Parliament?

It’s no big thing, really. It’s a request by Aboriginal people to be recognised FOREVER in the Australian constitution and to have an advisory body in Parliament to advise Parliament on any matters concerning Aboriginal people. Period.

Why Aren’t we Just voting Yes then?

Hidden Agendas

The Voice referendum has become a ‘political football’ and it shouldn’t have, because it has nothing to do with the political parties or anyone else who is not Aboriginal. Even more puzzling is how it has become a point of division in Australia at all when the bill to put the ‘Voice’ to the vote to go to referendum was passed unanimously by ALL parties.

So What’s Changed? Why are the National and Liberal parties in favour of a ‘No’ vote?

The conservative parties have decided to use the issue as a political tool to appeal to our conservative Australian values in an effort to improve their reputation and to damage the reputation of the Labour Party. It’s all a ploy to help them get re-elected. Is it honest? No, because they’re spreading misinformation to confuse the debate, and let’s face it, we’re confused enough.

While the Labour Party supports the ‘Yes’ vote, it has respectfully stepped back from the debate, to allow Australians to make up their own mind; however, the National and Liberal Parties and the One Nation Parties have done the opposite: they’ve ramped up their opposition to ensure the referendum fails.

Much like Trump’s antics in America, the Liberal and National Parties’ antics have spread fear and racism throughout the Australian community to muddy the issue. Being a post-colonial historian, the cynic in me believes that Peter Dutton and the conservative Liberal Parties and the National Parties are weaponizing their campaign by using racism to divide Australia to deliberately derail the outcome of the ‘Voice’ referendum. In my opinion, it is downright diabolical.

There are people acting as the face for the ‘No’ campaign and then there are the people who are the real faces behind the campaign.

The Visible ‘No’ Campaigners

There are those who have already been recruited by the Nats and Libs, like Jacinta Price and Warren Mundine, who are shoring up their positions in Federal and State Parliament by speaking out, and there are those who represent fringe movements that want to speed things up and go straight to a Treaty.

Jacinta Price, Liberal Party

Lidia Thorpe. Quit the Greens over the proposal.

The Migrant Community

The ‘No’ campaigners have also seized on the idea of multiple voices in Parliament and run with it by finding members from the Immigrant community to side with them. I was listening to ABC Radio National the other morning, to a South Australian politician talking about how the ‘Yes’ campaign is dividing Australians by causing racism to raise its ugly head. As Sabra suggested though, isn’t it just a sign that it’s always been there, bubbling under the surface? It was a very insightful response.

One of the images captured by photographers Nick Moir and Andrew Meares at the Cronulla Riots 2005.

His argument was that if someone, who was not of British descent, gets a voice in Parliament then everyone else should get one. After all, Australia is multicultural now, so if we’re going to give Aboriginal people a voice, we should give everyone else a voice too.

His use of logical fallacy, as a persuasive device, was quite effective. It seems legit on the surface. But, as soon as you interrogate the statement you can see it’s a load of rubbish.

Aboriginal people’s circumstances are a bit different to an immigrant’s because they’re not immigrants; they’re the original inhabitants of Australia. They’ve been here for 65,000 years. Plus. They had their own system of government in place and never gave over their sovereignty; the land was taken from them during an invasion in 1788 when the British expanded their Empire to create a British colony here, 235 years ago.

A Brief History Lesson

In Australia, pre colonization, the Aboriginal people had a political system that was thousands of years old – an incredibly civilized, fair and functional system – that the British colonization of the country destroyed territory by territory as they spread across the country. The conquerors replaced the Aboriginal people’s system of government with their unwanted foreign system, a British bipartisan system. Aboriginal people lost their self-determination in the process and now had white people making all the decisions affecting Aboriginal people who were living in their own country. Many of the decisions made concerning Aboriginal people over the past 250 years have been incredibly damaging. At their worst they’re on par with the policies affecting the Jews in Nazi Germany. Genocide was condoned, families were separated, people were incarcerated and whole communities were annexed into Missions. This is not propaganda. Anyone can easily look it up. It’s taught in Australian schools.

The Invisible ‘No’ Campaigners Behind the Visible Campaigners

Who are they? Well besides the fringe group who want a Treaty, the ones driving the campaign are the good old staunch monarchists and big landholders. The Nationals are in the thick of it. And polis like Pauline Hanson, the leader of the One Nation Party. And anyone who fears anything that challenges the status quo. Their British descendants, they’re Upper Class or Upper Middle Class. They want to hold onto the power that privileges people of British descent. Many conservatives are fearful of what will happen if another voice come into Parliament. The irony is that the ‘Voice’ is an advisory body ONLY. The power still remains with the party in power. Is there another agenda that they’re even more fearful of? You bet.

The Hidden Agenda?

Well, what you’ve got, historically speaking, are these people who have come into Australia 250 years ago, who’ve spread across the land gradually who have been sanctioned by British government to settle on the land as they pleased. Upper Class people and wealthy people were given a greater portion of the ‘pie’.

A text message sent on behalf of Jacinta Price that directed people directly to the Liberal Party’s website.

Australian red cedar was sent back to England in vast quantities. It was used extensively in the interior of the British Parliament.

The British government enthusiastically encouraged and supported their countrymen to settle on massive sections of land to assist to make Australia a colony of the British Empire. Once in possession of the land they could then funnel Australia’s natural resources back to England to increase its wealth.

But there was a bit of a hitch: when they took possession of the land, the Indigenous people didn’t get the memo that it was no longer their land. So, the settlers would get fed up with their presence and would drive the Indigenous people off it; if the Indigenous people returned then they would ‘disperse’ them; in colonial speak, that is, murder them.

So, the conservatives have created this fear-based campaign that uses propaganda, highly effectively, to persuade people to vote ‘No’ to bury the truth. But the conservatives don’t fear the Voice, but the two following components of the Uluru Statement from the Heart: The Truth-Telling and the Treaty.

Truth Telling

The second component that came out of Uluru focuses on truth telling. What could Pauline Hanson and the other conservatives be so afraid of that they would want to willfully obstruct Aboriginal people having a voice in Parliament that allows them to have a say in policies that ONLY affect them? Perhaps it has something to do with how the conservatives acquired their land. There might be some very ugly truths that might come out that they really don’t want the public to know about because they’re ashamed of what their forebears did or they might just fear the public backlash if we ever found out the truth. But the component the conservatives fear the most is the third component: a Treaty.

Treaty

Is a treaty a bad thing? In a nutshell, no. Every other country that has Indigenous people in it has a treaty with them. Australia is the last one to form one. The land in Australia – all of it – is technically stolen land. It is the spoils the British acquired through the conquering of the original inhabitants of this country, so we’re all living on stolen land. Should you feel guilty? Only if you took part in it. Should you feel ashamed? That’s up to you. That’s your truth to wrestle with.

We Trust Our Politicians, Don’t We?

As much as we like to think that we don’t trust our politicians, I think COVID has demonstrated that we inherently do. We believe that our politicians have the best interests of the country at heart. That they’re not just lining their own pockets but that they want to make Australia a better place for us to live in.

The only time we get to test this belief is when someone throws a contentious issue into the ring, like giving Aboriginal people a voice in Parliament.

I think it’s fair to say that the way the National and Liberal Parties are conducting themselves by politicizing an issue that is just for Aboriginal people, that really doesn’t have any bearing on the average Australian, is reminding us once again just how unscrupulous and manipulative our politicians can be.

Give Aboriginal People A Fair Go

‘The Voice’ referendum shouldn’t be a ‘political football’ that’s being kicked around by the major parties. It’s got nothing to do with them or us. It’s all about the Australian people giving Aboriginal people a fair go.

We took their land. We took their culture. We took their children. Isn’t it time we gave something back?

Steve Trotter

Vote ‘Yes’ and give Aboriginal people a voice. It’s the least we can do. It would be un-Australian not to.

There’s are a whole lot of things we weren’t taught about Australia’s Black History. It’s worth checking out.

Want to Know More About Aboriginal Culture?

If you or your children would like to know more about Aboriginal history and culture, check out Magpie Publishers’ bookstore. There you will find stories that celebrate our First Nations’ People and detail the impact of colonization on Aboriginal people, the environment, and their culture. 

 

Walk on Country

How about a tour? If you want to learn about a deeper time history of Ballina, why not arrange a tour of the Nyangbal people’s country? Eli Cook, and the other Nyangbal custodians, will guide you through their country, share their culture with you and tell you about their history, in person. 

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of Australia and honour the Elders past and present.

© Steve Trotter 2023

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