Politics Opinion

The Voice will enrich democracy says Solicitor-General: Dutton says 'No'

By | | comments |
(Cartoon by Mark David | @MDavidCartoons)

Mainstream media and the Federal Opposition are spreading “The-Voice-is-divisive” rhetoric — a shameless attempt to sow unnecessary seeds of division in Australian society, writes Belinda Jones.

THIS WEEK in Federal Parliament, the Bill for a Referendum on an Indigenous Voice To Parliament passed the upper house, the first of its type this century. That Referendum will be held later this year.

There seems to be fundamental confusion about the referendum that the “No” camp – which includes Federal Opposition leader Peter Dutton – is exploiting in an attempt to garner support for a No vote.

For many young voters, this will be the first time they have experienced a referendum. They deserve honest and fair information from all sides of Parliament. Instead, they are being deliberately misinformed by the Federal Opposition, News Corp and other mainstream media.

It is important to remember that a referendum asks whether or not the Australian people support an idea. That’s it.

In this case, the idea in question is whether First Nations people should have a seat at the table and be able to advise on matters affecting Indigenous Australians. That’s all.

A referendum is a question on the principle of a matter, not a question on how to implement the idea if it is agreed upon.

It’s a very simple question, really, but those in the No camp want to make it complex and confusing in a brazen attempt to sow seeds of division in Australian society. News Corp, Nine and the Federal Opposition have been pushing out “The-Voice-is-divisive” rhetoric — these words are not coming from the “Yes” camp and certainly not from the 'Uluru Statement From The Heart'.  The Yes camp sees this Referendum as an opportunity to unify the nation. 

Channel Nine presenter Amber Sherlock piled on to the “divisive” rhetoric in a recent bulletin and was rightly called out for it on social media.

In the absence of valid arguments against The Voice, the Opposition and mainstream media must create confusion and division to support their stance, which in itself is deceptive and divisive.

Initially, Peter Dutton and the Federal Opposition demanded “detail”. When it was patently clear that there was plenty of “detail” already available that didn’t fit the Opposition’s narrative, so they stopped talking about it.

Then, the Opposition demanded the Solicitor-General’s advice. It dropped that line of questioning after that advice was released, finding The Voice would enhance our democracy — which didn’t fit the Opposition’s narrative.

Then, the Opposition Leader invoked the words of Martin Luther King Jnr when he claimed:

“The great progress of the 20th Century’s Civil Rights Movement was the push to eradicate difference — to judge each other on the content of our character, not the colour of our skin."

Dutton demanded to know exactly how The Voice would work. Would it advise the Executive, the Reserve Bank, Cabinet or even determine where nuclear submarine bases would be? 

This is putting the cart before the horse... a referendum is basically a question: "Do you support this idea?” How that particular idea will be implemented if Australians agree with it comes later and is determined by the parliament. 

It is then, as with all legislation, that the Opposition and every member of parliament would have the opportunity to debate and design how a particular idea will be implemented. It is a waste of time and resources to determine such before Australians have decided whether or not to give it support.

It's gobsmacking that Peter Dutton doesn’t "appear" to understand this point. Or – if he does – is arguably seeking to misinform Australians.

This week in Question Time, the Federal Opposition continued its tactic of confusion by asking inane questions like, "Will the Voice advise on the date of Australia Day? Will the Voice advise on the Budget? Will the Voice advise on Defence?"

The Coalition seems very scared of advice.

The Opposition has no problem accepting advice from the National Farmers' Federation (NFF), which represents less than one per cent of Australians. So, why is it so terrified of advice from Indigenous Australians? 

In fact, every day, the Opposition – indeed all sides of the Federal Government – solicit, accept and reject the advice of lobbyists. They don’t claim that advice is “divisive” – quite the opposite – they encourage lobbyists’ advice and see it as integral to the democratic process.

It’s difficult to understand why the Federal Opposition has adopted its No stance. In the absence of valid arguments to support this case, Australians are left to speculate that the Opposition's actions are driven by ignorance and racism. Its wishy-washy, ever-changing and ill-informed arguments belie its fundamental failure to understand the purpose of a referendum.

There is one group, the Black Peoples Union (BPU), which has aligned with the No camp and has clearly articulated its reason for this stance.

Through its media release, the BPU has:

'... again reaffirmed our rejection of the illegal Colonial occupation of our lands and waters by the British Commonwealth. We place no faith in the oppressive and genocidal system to liberate us from the very same chains they bind us with; our liberation can only come from our own actions, not reforms and tokenism from the colonial system.'

In a symbolic gesture this week, the BPU 'presented the Commonwealth with a blanket and some beads [representing] returning to the monarch the same trinkets that were presented to us when they laid claim to our land.'

Senator Lidia Thorpe this week announced that she would join the No campaign because of her fundamental Blak Sovereign Movement (BSM) grassroots beliefs based on sovereignty. Her position on this point has been consistent for many years and was the reason she chose to walk out of the Uluru Statement From The Heart talks in 2017.

While some may not agree with Thorpe, the fact that she has remained consistent on her reasons for objecting to a Voice gives her credibility that many others in the No camp lack.

The Federal Opposition, News Corp media and others in the No camp offer no such considered and valid objections to The Voice. Their reasons for objecting change almost daily.  

They can’t articulate why they don’t support the Voice as Thorpe can. The best they can come up with is the word “divisive”, which is then parroted by News Corp media without context or reason, leaving Australians to speculate on their true motives.

@wilstracke Why are First Nations Peoples so insistent that the Voice needs to be enshrined in the constitution? #voicetoparliament #ulurustatement #voteyes #fromtheheart ♬ original sound - Wil Stracke

You can follow IA columnist Belinda Jones on Twitter @belindajones68.

Related Articles

Support independent journalism Subscribe to IA.

Recent articles by Belinda Jones
Funding for religious organisations favours those in Labor-held seats

The extent to which Labor's new Securing Faith-Based Places program is properly ...  
Rumours run rampant of Dutton leadership spill

After continuing his characteristic bullying, racism and negativity, there is talk ...  
The L-NP's mealy-mouthed new vote-buying 'commitment' to the environment

After years of climate change debate the Coalition are finally speaking up for the ...  
Join the conversation
comments powered by Disqus

Support IAIndependent Australia

Subscribe to IA and investigate Australia today.

Close Subscribe Donate