Mates, Bazza and Mick, delve deep over a few frothies on the issue of a Voice to Parliament for First Nations people.
BAZZA FLICKED through the news on his iPad, let out a very audible “bloody hell" and slid it to one side as a blurry-eyed Mick approached, armed with schooners.
“Yeah, yeah, Mick. I like watching the tennis but the sports betting advertisements are a turn-off for me. I’ve just been reading about gambling companies offering bets on matches involving minors. The insidious spread of gambling pisses me off.”
"Well, you are back to your cranky self, Bazza. Holidays over, eh?”
They both took decent sips and Bazza half smiled.
“Anyhow, Bazza, I do need to have another chat to you about the Voice to Parliament referendum. You might have swayed me last time we had a yarn about it, but I reckon they need to release more details.”
Bazza’s face reddened:
It’s a pretty straightforward proposal, Mick. A simple question: ‘Do you support an alteration to the 'Constitution' that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?’
You vote YES or NO.
“Yeah… but the detail, Bazza."
Bazza took a deep breath:
“Mick… we have a parliament we elect. If we do not like the parliament we elect, we vote it out. Simple. Its job, in this case, is to make good the outcome of the referendum. We pass judgment at the next election."
A long pause and Bazza furrowed his brow as he leaned in:
It’s in the interests of opponents of the Voice to make the referendum as scary and as complicated as possible. The same tactics led to the defeat of the referendum on the republic. Even the same-sex marriage debate was reduced to claims people could marry a sheep at one stage.
It’s bloody hard to get a referendum up in Australia, as you not only need a majority of the Australian people to support it but a majority of the states to do the same. It’s pretty easy to sabotage it.
Mick rubbed his bald head a number of times.
Bazza closed his eyes for a moment:
“Ignore the hysteria and stick to the question, Mick: ‘Do you support an alteration to the 'Constitution' that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?’ There is nothing in the question about third chambers, over-representation, the right of veto and so on.”
Bazza rubbed his chin:
“Now tell me, Mick, how do you tell our First Nations people that 60,000-plus years of living here does not deserve a Voice? How do you explain to an international visitor, let alone your own grandchildren, that you voted NO?”
Mick bit his bottom lip repeatedly.
John Longhurst is a former industrial advocate and political adviser. He currently works as an English and History teacher on the South Coast of NSW.
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