Indigenous Australia Opinion

You’re the Voice! At least try and understand it?

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(Image by XJ Donovan)

The Voice to Parliament referendum is a historic milestone for Indigenous peoples, yet many Australians fail to understand its significance, says Darren Crawford.

AS THE BOTTOM-FEEDING backsliders over at the Murdochracy continue to piss and moan about Indigenous Australians being given an opportunity to create a long-denied Voice to Parliament via a referendum later this year, it is important that the rest of us don’t get caught up in the negative trolling and abuse constantly emanating from their oral cavities.

It is obvious that the likes of Bolt, Credlin, and Murray et al. have all been given instructions on what the Murdoch playbook is on this issue — obfuscate, deny, or just make shit up and outright lie.

The same goes for Peter Dutton and his dopey bag of rejects that form the Liberal National Federal Opposition, except they’re running a revisionist campaign, where there’s never enough detail and they’re starting to look and sound like that redneck on South Park: “They took our jerbs!”

So, as Johnny Farnham sang all those years ago regarding the “Voice” it’s up to us to “understand it” and we need to “make a noise and make it clear” about what the intentions of the Voice are, and exactly what it’s impacts will be. To do that, we first need to block out the backsliders, shut up and listen, and ask ourselves two important questions:

1. How will the Voice impact me personally?


2. What will the Voice do for Indigenous Australians?

If your answer to the first question is “It won’t” but your answer to the second question is “I don’t know”, then the following is what you may need to consider.

“There’s not enough detail!”

When Peter Dutton says, “There is not enough detail”, that is Anglo/Christian code for “I have read what is planned and I don’t like it”. It also means he couldn’t be buggered doing his homework, because there is plenty of information out there collected over the past 240-odd years.

Most recently though, between the Uluru Statement From the Heart, the Working Group’s recommendations, and Albanese’s public explanations, there are plenty of sources out there for Dutton (and us) to read and absorb. However, you must remember, this is a man who turned his back and walked out of parliament during Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008 – he’s got form.

Dutton might not be a racist, but there is an argument to be had that he is an insensitive prick on race matters, to say the least; just look at what went down when he met with the Working Group in February 2023. In the meeting, he said he supported the Voice in principle and systemic change had to happen. He then walked out of the meeting, fronted the media, looked down the camera and said, in effect, The Voice will fail.

History will not be kind to Dutton on the Voice (as it hasn’t been with the apology), regardless of the outcome. By playing to his dwindling Anglo/Christian base, he will further push away Liberal moderates, who are their only hope of ever gaining government again. And that is the only thing the Libs crave — they do nothing in the national interest unless it will gain them power (and money, of course).

There’s plenty of detail out there regarding the Voice, just don’t be a dope like Dutton, get off your bum and go find it!

“You can’t change the constitution!”

Ah yes, this old pearler, which of course former Liberal PM Tony Abbott has been flapping his massive ears about. When someone throws this one up at you, ask them “Why not? We’ve changed it 8 times since federation?”

From federation, Section 127 of the Australian Constitution excluded “Aboriginal natives” from being included as citizens of Australia. They could go to war and die for Australia, but they needed to apply to the Anglo/Christian authorities if they wanted to do anything as simple as vote, get married, get a job, move towns, buy a house or even keep their own kids with them. In 1967, in the second part of a national referendum, over 90% of white voters said “Yes” to abolishing Section 127 and including Indigenous Australians in the census. This was a massive change for Australian society, and the government of the time, which just happened to be the Liberal Party.

On the ABC’s 7:30 earlier this week, Noel Pearson described Abbott’s position as “disappointing” especially when as PM, Abbott had championed some forms of Indigenous rights, linked to constitutional change. However, this is the same Tony Abbott that once ate a raw, unpeeled onion on live TV, tried to give the Queen’s husband a Knighthood and reckoned George Pell was hard done by.

So, let’s get to it, as Farnsy sang;

“We have the chance to turn the pages over
We can write what we want to write
We gotta make ends meet, before we get much older”

If now, after 240-odd years, isn’t the time for constitutional recognition for our Indigenous peoples, how much older do we have to get?

“It will create an Apartheid State!”

When your drunk uncle at the family barbie slurs this pearler, just tell him, “No, we already had a version of Apartheid, it was called the White Australia Policy. But we got rid of it.”

The Immigration Restriction Act, otherwise known as the “White Australia Policy” was introduced to Federal Parliament soon after federation in 1901 and was designed to limit non-British migration to Australia. It was law all the way up to 1973 when Whitlam introduced the Racial Discrimination Act (credit where it’s due, Holt got the ball rolling in 1966, just before he went for that really long swim).

For 72 years Australian law said it was okay for white humans to discriminate against non-white humans who wanted to migrate to Australia. And before 1901? Well, anything was okay...if you were white. Let that sink in — for almost 200 years after colonization, the First Australians were treated as non-citizens on their own land, even lower than the Chinese, Turks, Afghanis, Indians, and other brown-skinned people who came here to seek a better life (shall we also mention the slavery that happened with the Blackbirding trade through the South Pacific or is that another thing that didn’t happen?).

The principles of the White Australia Policy became ingrained in conservative white Anglo/Christian values throughout the 20th century, and they still linger today. Former PM John Howard, as recent as 2001 was still repping this system when he said, “we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come”.

So, tell your uncle to pull his head in and lay off the shandies for a while, the Voice is not about creating an Apartheid system in Australia, it’s about giving a voice to the most marginalized people in Australia, our First Nations people.

After all, “We’re all someone’s daughter, we’re all someone’s son.”

“They’ll take our land!”

Dopey, stale, pale males in the media such as John Laws, Stan Zemanek, Alan Jones, and Ron Casey said the same thing when Eddie Mabo stood up and shook the establishment over Terra Nullius in the early 1990’s.

At the time, talk back radio stations blared this garbage daily — “They’ll take our farms”, “We’ll lose our houses”, “Businesses will be ruined”, “The mining industry will go broke!”

And guess what?

None of the above happened.

But what did happen?

Eddie Mabo was formally recognized as the traditional owner of his land, via the constitution.

John Laws made bucketloads spruiking Valvoline, Jones and Zemanek ended up on daytime TV, and Casey had a punch-up with Normie Rowe on the Midday Show. The loudest white guys in the room made bank by selling our Indigenous brothers and sisters out publicly on behalf of the Anglo/Christian status quo.

What they are really saying is: Who do these uppity black fellas think they are trying to take OUR land from us!

Sound familiar?

Listen to the bottom-feeders Murray, Credlin, and Kenny on Sky or Fordham on 9 Radio, read anything from Andrew Bolt printed in the last two decades, or (if you can handle it) try and sit through more than 5 minutes of his Sky After Dark daily whinge-a-thon “The Bolt Report,", and you’ll see the same sentiments as above, just with subtle variations on the theme.

Bruce Pascoe can’t be black,” Bolt screams at the camera, “Those children weren’t stolen!” he slobbers.

Did you know Bolt’s parents were Dutch immigrants to Australia in the 1950s?

You know the Dutch were Afrikaaners, right?

The Afrikaaners, weren’t they the ones that started Apartheid in South Africa?

But I digress, sorry.

No one is losing their land, farm, business, mine, or house in Australia when the Voice is implemented.

Andrew Bolt may lose his shit though, which most decent humans would see as a good thing.

Again, “we’re all someone’s daughter, we’re all someone’s son” – Bolt’s parents must be so proud.

“Treaty first!”

The Greens have already lost major skin (and a Senator) playing this game of friendly fire. I’d bet Senator Lidia Thorpe understands that the next possible step in this, once the Voice is enacted, is to sit down and work out a treaty, but she has gone all in on a treaty first. This is a classic Greens play which we have seen time and time again, i.e., “Give us everything we want now, or we won’t support anything!” Carbon Tax anyone? How about emission targets? And once again, it’s blown up in the Greens' faces, virtually sidelining them from the debate.

Thorpe seems to be unhinged and empowered by any camera in her immediate vicinity and uses it as an excuse to put the war paint on. Violence and chaos are her solution, which is weird when she says she wants the treaty first. It is my understanding that to talk treaty, the weapons need to be put down, and people need to sit, listen and talk. Is she up for that?

Similarly, Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price — does she represent the IPA, the Murdoch’s, Gina Reinhardt or her People? Because much more politically experienced humans such as Noel Pearson, Lynda Burney and Professor Marcia Langton have worked long and hard on getting the Voice to this stage. They have also worked long and hard for their people, which from afar, Senator Price does not appear to be doing.

It’s hard to not see Price as a sellout – a solid 9-carat rolled gold, walking, talking gift to Anglo/Christian political rule. Is she with the IPA because they pay her way? Is she a National in name only, using them as a gateway into parliament? Or is she just Gina Reinhart’s latest feel-good project that will absolve the sins of her father (Gina’s dad wanted to sterilize the Indigenous population of WA back in his day)?

Maybe, like most of the Anglo/Christian mouth breathers in the media, she’s just angling for a job with Uncle Rupert on Sky News After Dark when her political career hits the fan (which it will)? Either way, she is the “good” black fella that the Anglo/Christian rulers have loved ever since they got here – she’s doing what they are telling her to do, no questions asked.

So, when this one comes up at smoko or down at the pub, you can answer with “the Voice is the road to treaty” – we can have both, we all just need to sit down, shut up, and listen.

Seriously though someone needs to ask these two; “How long can we look at each other, down the barrel of a gun”, ladies?

“Another level of government will cost too much!”

Here’s the thing, the Voice is not intended to be another level of government — it’s an advisory body to the existing structure, a conduit, a channel for discourse and dialogue that can influence but has no power over operations. Yes, it’s going to cost money to set up, but for the first time, First Australians will have direct communication with the Federal government into decisions that impact them, their communities, and the country’s society in general.

So how much is too much?

There is a distinct possibility that more employment opportunities will open for First Nations people as a result of the Voice, both outside parliament and within, so that is a positive.

However, if, as a nation, we see the cost of setting this up as prohibitive, why don’t we tap Gina Reinhardt on the shoulder and get her to help pay for the set-up? I mean, after all, her dad wanted to wipe the Indigenous out and her company has made billions extracting the mineral wealth from their lands in WA. Sponsoring the Voice has got to be a better return for Gina than sponsoring the Olympic Swimming team, and it’s not like she’s leaving anything for her kids in her will.

That’s a win-win for everyone – Gina gets a bit of good karma (for a change) and the Indigenous get some reparations for the damage done – after all, “we’re all someone’s daughter…” aren’t we Gina?

“We’re not gonna sit in silence, we’re not gonna live with fear.”

As can be seen above, if you have a problem with the Voice, then educate yourself, because obviously, you are the problem!

While the Anglo/Christian forces of negativity seek to undermine any formal Indigenous recognition in this country by clinging to the last vestiges of 240-odd years of their prevailing status quo, we as a nation cannot move forward. The Voice gives us hope as a nation to come together, as we did in 1967, with our First Australian peoples.

So if you have a problem with the Voice, ask yourself how it impacts you personally, and if it doesn’t, what is it to you?

And if you can’t see the good it will do for Indigenous Australians, then go talk to some and ask them what they think.

Just don’t be a dope like Dutton, get out and find the information, there’s plenty out there.

But if you find yourself siding with Bolt and the back-sliders at Sky News, no one can help you, you’re on your own.

Because as Johnny Farnham sang (cue bagpipes);

This time, we know we all can stand together
With the power to be powerful
Believing we can make it better
Ooh, we're all someone's daughter
We're all someone's son
How long can we look at each other
Down the barrel of a gun?

You're the voice, try and understand it
Make a noise and make it clear
Oh, whoa
We're not gonna sit in silence
We're not gonna live with fear
Oh, whoa

And what’s more Australian than that?

Darren Crawford is a surfer, environmentalist, sports coach/administrator and academic. He is also vice president of Save Our Spit Alliance. You can follow Darren on Twitter @Darrencanplay.

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