Politics Analysis

Pipe down on The Voice, your White privilege is showing

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

Peter Dutton and his media cabal notwithstanding, The Voice is a well-considered and "detailed" proposition put forward by Indigenous Australians — just respect it. Managing editor Michelle Pini provides the "detail".

WHAT A SHAME that a simple request from the voiceless just to be heard has turned into an opportunity for those already in possession of megaphones to turn up the volume.

Since I am not an Indigenous Australian, I will not presume to advise our First Nations people as to how they should be going about trying to reverse 200-odd years of oppression.

So, let us first try and break down what The Voice is and why we need it before taking a look at why some of the more privileged voices are trying to tear it down.

RECOGNITION

As pointed out by Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney:

"The Australian Constitution is the only constitution of a first world nation with a colonial history that does not recognise its first people."

That should be reason enough to just say, to hell with it, let’s try and catch up with the rest of the world and turn the racism down a fraction, surely.

WHAT IS THE VOICE?

The Voice to Parliament [IA emphasis]:

‘...is a body enshrined in the Constitution that would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice to the Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives…

[And] gives the Australian Government the opportunity to make policies with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, rather than for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’

HOW WILL IT WORK?

The Voice is a body that will:

  • provide independent advice to Parliament and Government;
  • be chosen by First Nations people based on the wishes of local communities;
  • be representative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities;
  • be empowering, community-led, inclusive, respectful, culturally informed and gender-balanced, and include youth;
  • be accountable and transparent; and
  • work alongside existing organisations and traditional structures.

WHAT THE VOICE ISN'T

The Voice will not have a program delivery function, or a veto power.

The Voice to Parliament does not have the power to override parliamentary decisions, full stop. 

THE VOICE REFERENDUM

'The referendum is part of the Government's commitment to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.'

Source: National Indigenous Australian Agency (NIAA)

In my non-Indigenous opinion*, this last point is the clincher.

This is something that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people view as an important first step to reconciliation. You may think there are better ways, more effective ways to proceed but are you an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person?

PETER 'DETAIL' DUTTON

Liberal Opposition Leader Peter "Detail" Dutton now appears firmly ensconced as the least popular leader since Scott Morrison — who all but "miraculously" wiped out the Coalition with his spectacular 2022 Election loss. He may, in fact, be less popular than any Liberal leader in history, but we digress.

Dutton, aided and abetted by the “more friendly” media, known at IA as the mainstream media cabal, has done all in his power to derail The Voice.

The Opposition Leader has endlessly lamented an imagined "lack of detail" and accused Albanese of treating us like mugs”.

Perhaps Dutton could attempt to read the abundance of availabledetail” and, should this prove too onerous, Pete might like to read our convenient summary above.

As Belinda Jones pointed out in IA:

Dutton has been afforded every opportunity to learn about this issue. 

In the previous Parliament, former Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt took details of a Voice To Parliament to Cabinet twice. Dutton ignored him.

Leading academics, Indigenous elders, working groups and communities have extensively collaborated over years. Dutton has ignored them.

An invitation to the Garma Festival was extended to Dutton last year. He chose not to go.

Dutton infamously walked out of the Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008 and only realised [pretended] he had “made a mistake” in 2022 when Scott Morrison was defeated, and he ascended to leadership. 

Ignorance and White privilege notwithstanding, Dutton and Co have attacked Albanese and anything relating to the actual detail with headlines such as:

  • 'Why Albo’s culture war goes far beyond the Voice' ~ Herald Sun;
  • 'The Voice will have Australia 'permanently divided by race'Sky News;
  • '"Apparently" the Voice to Parliament details are "out there"' Sky News; and even...
  • 'Why the Voice could hit property ownership' ~ The Australian.

So to recap, The Voice, according to Pete and his "friendly" media cabal, will affect property ownership, end democracy and probably, life as we know it.

Unfortunately for Dutton, it appears that choosing to 'turn his back on bipartisanship' and fight this particular culture war isn't boding too well for Mr 17%, as the latest polls now evince.

And even the friendly media cabal can't change the views of the majority of Australians, quiet or otherwise, who support an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. 

This negative campaign led by Dutton – a man whose racist credentials have long been on public display – is ostensibly about "detail" but it is actually only about keeping our First Nations people voiceless for as long as possible.

It is quite obvious that White Australians have opinions about the Voice — opine away, quietly, in the comfort of your own echo chamber. But no matter how infinitely valuable you consider it to be, unless your opinion is in support of The Voice – a well-considered and "detailed" proposition put forward by Indigenous Australians – don’t share it. If nothing else, your White privilege and ignorance will be showing.

POSTSCRIPT

The author acknowledges that this article voices an opinion about White people voicing their opinion on The Voice.

You can follow managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

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