12 September 2023

ACT-focused No campaign kicks off, calling on Canberrans not to just 'go for the vibe'

| Claire Fenwicke
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Former Canberra Liberals MLAs Greg Cornwall and Bill Stefaniak joined SA Senator Kerrynne Liddle (centre) to launch the ACT No campaign

Former Canberra Liberals MLAs Greg Cornwall and Bill Stefaniak joined SA Senator Kerrynne Liddle (centre) to launch the ACT No campaign. Photo: Supplied.

Former Canberra Liberals heavyweights have come out in force at Parliament House to officially launch an ACT-centric campaign for the No vote on the Voice.

The referendum for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament has been set for 14 October, with the ACT Chief Minister already expressing his hope the Territory will have the highest Yes vote in the country.

Former Attorney-General and Liberals MLA Bill Stefaniak said while he understood the sentiment behind the Voice – and that it could be a reality given Canberra’s more left-leaning voting views and history of favouring referendums – he encouraged people to read each side of the argument.

“I simply encourage people, especially Federal public servants who will have to work out how to implement this … to inform yourselves, to look at it, don’t go for the vibe,” he said.

“This potentially has huge ramifications for Australia.”

Given some Liberals have come out in support of the Voice, the group wanted to let Canberrans know there were also those who had a different opinion.

Mr Stefaniak said they were “under no illusions” that Canberra will probably have a majority Yes vote, but that didn’t mean they shouldn’t try.

“We want to maximise the No vote. Even if we can change 2000 minds, we would be very happy,” he said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see the No vote [here] in the 40s [percentage range].”

READ ALSO Curtin and Hughes residents invite everyone to join hands – and say Yes

Pushing the No case doesn’t mean the group completely dismisses the idea for Indigenous Australians to have a say in things that would impact them.

Rather, this group is aligned with the argument being made by those such as Warren Mundine and Jacinta Price that having one group to represent the voice of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians isn’t adequate.

“I can’t see the Voice helping at all … at best, it will be an extra layer of bureaucracy for the inner-city elite, which won’t represent those Indigenous Australians out in communities,” Mr Stefaniak said.

“How is this going to unite the country and not divide it? … [This] has the best intentions to help, but in reality it could create an underclass.”

The group doesn’t believe an Indigenous Voice should be enshrined in the Constitution; instead, it says state and territory governments should write laws that could then be repealed if it was discovered they weren’t working as intended.

“The big problem is having it in the Constitution. It could create huge problems because you basically can’t get rid of it,” Mr Stefaniak said.

“By all means, legislate as much as you want, because if it turns out you don’t like it, you can get rid of it.”

READ ALSO ‘Unwelcome interference’: Federal Senate committee recommends against Canavan bill to amend Territory’s Self-Government law

The uncertainty around how the Voice representative group would be chosen is another sticking point.

“We basically think it’s a crock of the proverbial as no one can explain how it will work, who is on it and who is not, which groups are on it and which ones aren’t, and how this will all work,” Mr Stefaniak said.

“It’s just a very dangerous concept to put up an idea when we have no idea how it will work in practice … and then on a wing and a prayer hope it works.”

Instead, Mr Stefaniak said the Constitution’s preamble could be changed to recognise not just Indigenous Australians but all communities who have come to Australia through migration.

“It can describe our rich, historical background of Indigenous peoples going back 65,000 years and the vibrant multicultural communities which have come since,” he said.

“Then everyone gets a guernsey … and it’s a statement of fact about who we are.”

Mr Stefaniak encouraged everyone to closely read both sides of the argument in the Australian Electoral Commission’s explanatory brochure, which has been arriving in every letterbox around the country.

“Don’t go on a vibe. Make an informed vote.”

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It would be interesting to see the consequences if the outcome is in favour of Yes. Thinking future requests for voice referendums to be drawn up similarly for Voice for People with Disabilities, Voice for People of Race, Voice for Pride, Voice for Women etc etc etc.

pink little birdie10:37 am 15 Sep 23

Perhaps it’s time for for the Riotact to do an article on the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elected body which has been acting as a voice to the ACT government since 2008. http://www.atiesb.com.au
Quietly achieving things for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT.

How can anyone with a fully functioning brain be expected to vote for something that NO one can definitively explain?
If you do not understand it, do not vote for it.

If you do not understand it, seek out the information that is readily available.

You understand it Will Newby! It just suits you and your side’s agenda to pretend you don’t!

Pro tip for Jack D.
How about picking apart your opponent’s argument with logic or your own arguments.
All you seem to do is link whoever with some right wing group then dismiss them.
Your silence is defeaning.

Don’t read my posts then franky22. I don’t read yours.

Based on your past comments though, I don’t think we would gel anyway!

This has already turned out to be the most divisive campaign most of us will remember. Now the leading advocate and candidate for the Voice accuses opponents, or the reasons for doubt (I’m not sure which) as being stupid and racist. The Voice is already exposing itself as the voice of vitriol, insults, nastiness and intolerance. With more to come.

Hi Acton, just to be accurate about who said what. Professor Marcia Langton, who is a leading advocate for the Voice (not “the” leading advocate) and is not a “candidate” as the referendum is not an election with “candidates”, said that some of the claims being made about the Voice were racist and stupid. She did not say this about voters. To be honest, there is a lot of misinformation circulating out there from shadowy figures behind these claims.

Thankyou acton2

Astro2:- as the co-chair on the Senior Advisory Group of the proposed Voice to Parliament, Langton is both ‘a’ and ‘the’ leading advocate for the Voice. I may be wrong, but with her profile, advocacy and background she will almost certainly be a candidate for the Voice forum in whatever form it takes, should it get up.
Ok, for the sake of accuracy listen to her own words, at 1:16 of this video:

“…then there is the hard No voters, and I’m hoping that they’re about 20%, and they’re the ones who are spewing the racism…”

It is public statements and attitudes like this that are divisive and which attempt to shut down legitimate debate through insult and intimidation.
Opposing the Voice does not make someone racist. Arguably, the opposite.
Democracy requires debate. Without debate there can be no consensus. With no broad consensus a referendum will fail.

hi Acton, you can repeat what you previously said but that doesn’t make it correct. Professor Langtonon is not “the” leading advocate. Other leading advocates include Minister Burney, Noel Pearson, Ken Wyatt (Liberal), Thomas Mayo, Rachelle Perkins. That’s just an example, so. no, Professor Langton is not “the” leading advocate as there are quite clearly others. Does this bother you? She may be a candidate for the Voice, however considering she is in her 70’s she may want to retire as most Aussies do at that age (or younger actually). In regards to public statements, yes, she did say that there are racists. This is quite easily proven by the bigotry coming out of social media comments. She did not say that opposing the Voice made someone a racist. Nor did she say that there shouldn’t be a debate.

This campaign is really bringing out the worst in people. This is really unsurprising coming from Greg Cornwall whose extreme views are well known within the Liberal party. Not to mention his commentary in local media. 

Bill Stefaniak’s right wing views are also well known. This includes blustering against the Chinese in the letters pages of our local paper. I did expect though that he, of all people, would be a little more charitable and understanding in his opinions. What weasel words in support of your stance Bill against the Voice as well as describing this most important of referendums as “a vibe”.

Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee and members of her party who previously expressed support for the Voice have been cowed by the party and are silent. What hope do the Canberra Liberals have for its future electoral prospects with the party’s leader in hiding during this most important of campaigns and those from the extreme right – Jeremy Hanson, Bill Stefaniak and Greg Cornwell leading the No campaign?

Well, so far your worst people are 58% or so of the voting population. At least you can pat yourself on the back you’re one of the select, morally pure, better people on this earth, rather than part of the contemptible groaning masses.

As to all these supposedly far-right extremists in the Liberal Party. At least, while they’re playing the role of being the worst people, they aren’t spitting “racist” and “stupid” at everyone who disagrees with them. No, they actually use civil argument to make their case rather than ad-hominems. Such is the way of far right wing extremist worst people. Or, maybe, just a thought, they’re ordinary people, conservative indeed (but you’ll never eradicate that from the world, no matter what culture you’re in), with their own views and experience: always worth considering that, instead of demonising and judging. All in all, chase the ball, not the player.

Whatever money was earmarked for the voice would be better spent on the education system and likely cyber crime.

“A- it works in very well as it does not disadvantage non-Aboriginal people because it is an Advisory body.”

The government will have powers to give powers to the ‘advisory body’ which will have no oversight. Because if there was oversight there would be details and there isn’t any details.

Article 21 Paragraph 2 of the human rights:
“2. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.”
I take it the voice will have to listen to non-aboriginal australians too? and make sure their wishes are known and put to the public service / parlament.
Advocacy is a service provided by the voice to Australians? is that provided equally and not provisioned on the basis of race?

“It doesn’t spend money”

It sure does, the voice spends money on running the voice? You don’t expect people to work for free.
The only ones that don’t get money are the land rights holders that are forced to defend their ownership or landholdings from native title claims some 42,000 in NSW and others in QLD.
The native title seekers have their costs paid but those defending don’t.
Why would the ‘voice’ be different an excempt from funding. Where is your evidence or detail that the voice wont spend any money?

If your view that if the voice is free we can disband all the similar groups that do similar advocacy and save money? I’m amazed that these people work for free.

Do any other government entities not spend any money?

Bigger question: If its all so simple and so obvious, why wasn’t it done earlier? Why are some of the details being worked out afterwards. If it was that straight forward and easy to understand why wasn’t it done 20-30 years ago?

Astro, have you ever wondered if your missing something, your currently sitting on the minority side of the opinion?

Hi Gooterz, yes agree with more spending on education, it is vital. And the best outcomes for this and other policy areas is always when we listen to the people affected. That’s why there is a Voice proposal. Regards your second point of no oversight, the normal Parliamentary processes will oversee the Voice. This information has been made very clear from the start. Everyone still has the normal access and rights to Parliament that they do now. If you think this would be any different perhaps you could explain how. Thirdly, no it doesn’t spend money as it is an advisory body so doesn’t have any authority to spend money. Normal operating costs would apply to any advisory body. Your points about land rights are unsubstantiated and have no relevance to the advisory body that is the Voice. If you are looking for the wording about why the Voice doesn’t have authority to expend funding then here it is (this is a direct quote from the proposed change to the Constitution that we are voting on): “the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
Making representations does not include expending funds. In regards to other groups that expend funds these would be different to the Voice. I think you are confusing funding expenditure powers and normal operating costs that all advisory bodies have (e.g. a secretariat service and meetings). Your last question about why the Voice wasn’t proposed earlier is a good one. Unfortunately, some previous governments who could have set this in motion years ago declined to do so (kicking the can down the road.) However, we’ve finally got to this point to do so. Similar to the marriage equality issue which could also have been passed many years ago. Australia was a bit slower than many other countries on that issue. But, as the PM says. “If not now, when?”

How does a voice help us to listen to people, where there is already a chance to listen to them but ignored? If they are ignored now, we can just ignore the voice too, unless it has powers.
So either way on either point you are wrong. You’ve made both sides to that arguement.

There is no normal parliamentary process for the voice. How are people chosen for the voice. If there are issues we can’t easily remove it without going to a referedum.

You’re then asking me to explain how, in an arguement that you have taken the view that there is enough detail and i’ve said there isn’t.

Land rights have nothing to do with the voice? “no relevance to the advisory body that is the Voice. ”
Whats the point of the voice if land rights are excluded? which body will take on that role? Voice 2?

“the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Sounds like its to make treaty.

The reason it wasn’t done before, is that its a completely useless and bad idea. Only divides the nation and not all Aboriginal community agree on what they want. They are a subset of people and not their own nation.

In rebutall. to the question:
But, as the PM says. “If not now, when?”

When does the voice no longer need to exist? does this voice extend out another 50,000 years? How do we know when the voice did what it needed to do?

I reason there is no public reason thats actually valid for the voice and its only there to support one side of politics. Its not for the advangement of Aborignal people, but purely as a means of corrupting parliament.

Why not fix parliament how it works rather than add on an entirely new beast.

Hi Gooterz, how can you be heard without a voice? No one is suggesting that government will agree to everything that the advisory body comes up with but the ideas and opinions will be considered by government. This is nothing to be worried about Gooterz. There are currently normal Parliamentary processes for selection of representatives for committees, advisory bodies and Boards. This isn’t a problem, it’s part of the process.The important thing to remember is that the Government retains its powers. If you want more detail I can point you in the direction of plenty of links (and have provided these in other posts so I suggest if you want more information please avail yourself of these sources. They will help fill the gaps if you are genuinely seeking more information. The focus of the Voice, if the Referendum is passed on 14 October, will be health, housing and education. I’m not sure how you conflated the wording that I provided from the actual Constitutional amendment as “making treaty”. It doesn’t say that does it Gooterz. The Referendum does not divide the nation any more than an election does. As you would be aware, elections divide us into opposing parties, that’s divisive isn’t it – Liberal, Labor, One Nation, Greens, Independents…..yet somehow, it all seems to function ok doesn’t it. Unless you want a one-party state there will always be division – that’s part of democracy. I’ve previously addressed the question of the longer term future and how the Voice would operate when our goal of equal outcomes in health, education, longevity, etc is reached. It’s already been considered and addressed. The Voice is not there “to support one side of politics”, the list of Liberal supporters is extensive but I won’t go into the full detail as there isn’t space in this post.

Can we just stop this myth that it’s conservative voters who are voting no. I’m not and I will be. As will a large number of my labor voting friends and colleagues.

We have a body to represent indigenous Australians – it’s called the government and it represents all of us at both federal and state level.

HiddenDragon7:28 pm 13 Sep 23

“The referendum for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament has been set for 14 October, with the ACT Chief Minister already expressing his hope the Territory will have the highest Yes vote in the country.”

Unless some of the more provocative Yes campaigners take a vow of silence for the next four and a bit weeks, the ACT may also be the only jurisdiction which votes Yes.

The Canberra Liberals are going all out fermenting anger against the Voice to Parliament. One has to wonder where the party’s leader Elizabeth Lee and her colleagues have been throughout this whole process with deputy leader Jeremy Hanson doing all the work. They have been silent!

Where the heck is Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee and her party advocating for the Voice to Parliament?

Mr Hanson has strong links to the Advance Australia group. AA is anti Voice and has been prominent throughout the campaign. AA was formed in 2018 during the marriage equality campaign with adherents blaming wokeism for everything that goes against their beliefs. This includes the authority of the church, gender identity and environmentalism. The group was active in targeting David Pocock during the 2022 federal election. AA’s president is recently retired Liberal MLA and speaker Vicki Dunne and the group is strongly linked to former senator Zed Seselja.

We now read that the Canberra Liberals have now engaged former Canberra Liberals leader Bill Stefaniak and his then colleague, speaker Greg Cornwall in support of their campaign. Bill Stefaniak and Greg Cornwall are well known for their extreme right wing views and regularly appear in the media to advance their opinions. They also have strong links to the Canberra Liberals and the Advance Australia lobby group.

Jeremy, Bill and Greg are all assisted in their cause by affluent and high profile Indigenous mates who are also fearmongering against the Voice and appear hostile to their own peoples’ needs.

Who is the real leader of the Canberra Liberals and where is supposed leader Elizabeth Lee?

Shocking isn’t it Jack, imagine having a political party where individual members get to have and voice different opinions on an issue.

With recent polling showing over 40% of ALP voters are on the No side, it’s strange that so few of their representatives have been courageous enough to take a stand against the dogma of the party. Where are they?

Good, but I think you mean “fomenting”.

You are exactly right Roy Forward! How I hate making spelling mistakes, I could kick myself.

I’ll blame it on the keyboard or go back to school!

John Anderson (ex Deputy PM) debunks 4 myths of the voice proponents in this 10 minute video. John says “the voice would permanently institutionalise racial politics, it would perpetuate unjustified intergenerational guilt, and it would divide Australians according to their race”.

Hasn’t the current system already done that? Colonisation/Invasion requires a remedy that will not make a difference to the lives of anyone but the original inhabitants of this country

Crazed_Loner1:01 am 15 Sep 23

1. The Constitution already has powers which can single out people by race, the so-called ‘race powers’. 2. It’s not a matter of guilt, it’s a matter of truth-telling and recognising that all we are today, good and bad, is a result of our history which isn’t something to be glossed over in some Pollyannaish attempt to wipe the slate clean for ourselves. 3. John Anderson? Save me. He’s gone full weird RWNJ, just as Garry Johns formerly from the other side of politics also has.

More than a little irony in retired politicians whining that they don’t have every detail of every part of a proposal before voting on it, when most of their campaigns were all around ‘trust us’, full of vague policy ideas at best.

Unjust laws can be shot down for being unconstitutional. You can’t just change the part of what constitutional means willy nilly.
Many of our laws are defined in ways to say there is no discrimination. This change throws a cat amoung the pigeons.

Australia is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Having an racist based voice has issues with articles 1, 2, 7, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 21, 26, 30.
Not to mention the media censorship laws designed to help bring in the voice.

The voice aims to re-write history, we’ll end up with 2 party systems like NZ. We’ll end up with mindwashing and re-education programs like Canada and China. We’ll get locked out of parts of our own country and end up with less rights and freedoms than others. Works that tell the truth but don’t paint certain groups or rights in the voice designated best light will be banned.

how does the Voice aim to “re-write history” could you explain your theory?. Also I direct you back to the Mabo decision where the same types of people said we’d be “locked out of parts of our own country.” Never happened. Just fear-mongering and hysteria by the usual suspects.

Why can’t all Australian citizens have a voice to parliament why just aboriginals?

Stephen Ellis4:43 pm 13 Sep 23

We do. We elect them every 3 years. This voice is designed to provide one group of Australians the ability to influence both the politicians and the bureaucracy and to take it to the High Court if they don’t get their way.

Not to mention have no defined accountability. Its a labor designed backdoor to get what they want.

At least they broadcast what the politicions say, the voice will be behind closed doors and run like the decisions did during covid.

They’ll likely base the voice in voicetoria, so they can illegally arrest journalists.

Because as it has become quite clear; The authors of the proposal are leftist activists, the Labor government will fill “the voice” with nothing but leftist activists and they will be near impossible to get rid of if the referendum gets up.

If the Coalition get back in power and tries to change the members of the voice there will be nothing but screeches of racism from the aforementioned leftist activists and Labour party.

It’s pretty obvious that this is primarily about political leverage. You don’t need a crystal ball to predict the obvious.

…and to the yes voters, they can easily prove me wrong by releasing details of how all of this will work BEFORE the vote but we all know that they have zero interest in the public getting to see the detail of what they are pushing.

As people become more and more informed on the issue, the yes vote has dropped through the floor. An informed voter base seems to guarantee that their divisive race based politics will fail.

Oh dear Bob “leftist activists, do you mean like Ken Wyatt, the previous Liberal Minister for Indigenous Affairs.? Or Julian Leesser, previously Shadow Attorney -General?, both of whom were involved in the proposal.

Quite fair reporting of the “no” case as spoken by Canberra Liberals. It seems to me that most “no” voters have no problem with devising legislation for some sort of high level advisory body, but question why, unlike other statutory authorities, it needs to be engraved into the constitution. So far the only answers to that are “because that’s what Aborigines want” (though evidently not all if them want it), and “so it can never be removed” (no matter how dysfunctional or corrupt it becomes). Neither answer is convincing to independent thinkers.

Stephen Ellis4:44 pm 13 Sep 23

Couldn’t agree more.

I love how it seems that all of the No campaigners and voters are people who aren’t even going to be around to see what a Yes vote would do to Australia!

Balance needed1:23 pm 13 Sep 23

I assume smiffs meant “what a Yes vote would do FOR Australia.” Probably the majority of No voters are very concerned about what a constitutionally enshrined Voice would do TO Australia. Legitimate concerns that are met with ad hominem attacks such as “racist” and “very stupid”, straw man arguments such as “that is fear-mongering” or ridiculously dismissive instructions to Google the detail, when nobody knows what that detail would be.

“what a yes vote”. Everyone gets a vote. There will be millions of votes. What is one vote going to do?
We should raise the voting age to 25-30. Give your generation a change to pay some taxes before you pretend to know how to spend mine!

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