26 September 2023

Canberrans must not be complacent on the Voice

| Senator Katy Gallagher
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Alicia Payne MP, Senator Katy Gallagher and Ngunnawal elder Aunty Violet Sheridan

Member for Canberra Alicia Payne, Senator Katy Gallagher and Ngunnawal elder Aunty Violet Sheridan are all campaigning for the Yes vote. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

There are just under four weeks to go until Canberrans head to the polling booths with a once-in-a-generation chance to bring our country together and change it for the better.

It is an opportunity to accept the generous offer from First Nations Australians to walk together on the path to reconciliation and listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians when it comes to matters that directly affect their lives.

A Yes vote for the Voice is about practical recognition. It’s about listening. And it’s about ensuring the investments we make are delivering a practical difference on the ground.

It is an opportunity that I hope we, as Canberrans, do not take for granted.

We cannot get complacent and assume that a resounding Yes vote from Canberra is a sure thing.

As one of your Senators for the ACT and a strong supporter of the Voice to Parliament’s Yes Campaign, I cannot stress how important every conversation is that you have between now and Referendum Day on 14 October: conversations with colleagues, conversations with friends and family, or even conversations with people on the street at one of the many volunteering opportunities across Canberra and the surrounding region.

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If we want to deliver that resounding Yes vote, we need all hands on deck spreading the message about how a Yes vote on 14 October will bring our country together and change it for the better.

The way I see it, there are three compelling reasons to say Yes.

Firstly, it’s about paying respect to 65,000 years of culture and tradition and recognising the world’s oldest continuing culture in our nation’s birth certificate.

Secondly, it’s simply about listening. I think the Prime Minister put it best when he said, “People should be consulted on matters that affect them; that’s just good manners”.

Finally, this referendum is about delivering better outcomes for First Nations people in areas like health, education, jobs and housing because when governments listen to people on the ground, they make better decisions, get better results and deliver better value for money.

At the moment, we’re still seeing around an eight-year gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared with non-Indigenous Australians.

Nationally, 68 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 20-24 years had attained Year 12 or equivalent qualification, compared to 91 per cent of non-Indigenous Australians.

And only 81 per cent of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people are living in appropriately sized (not overcrowded) housing, compared with 94 per cent of non-Indigenous Australians.

It’s clear that the current approach isn’t working. That’s why it’s time for us to walk a different path, together as a nation.

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We have a 320,000-person-strong voting base here in the ACT that has the power to seriously influence the count for the national total.

With less than four weeks to go, now is not the time for complacency. If you’ve been thinking about joining the Yes campaign, now’s the time.

You can find out how to join the official campaign by heading to the Yes23 website.

This is not about partisan politics. I’ve been campaigning for Yes alongside volunteers from across the political spectrum and with people who have never been activists before but have been motivated to play their part in delivering this crucial change and be part of history.

This is about unifying Australia and moving our country forward together. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Voting Yes is something we can all do to make a practical difference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today and for the next generation.

That’s why I’ll be voting Yes on 14 October and I hope that all Canberrans join me in embracing this opportunity to recognise, to listen and to drive practical change.

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Garingaleep Fergadop10:39 pm 02 Oct 23

Treating people fairly and helping those that need it by spending money wisely should be normal government activity. It should not need changes to the constitution.

I have done a lot of letter box drops for the YES vote since campaigning started. I have spoken to many many people who are out the front of their homes when I approach. I tell them that I am supporting and letterboxing for the YES vote. I have not had one person act negatively towards me. In fact, everyone has been extremely positive.

Canberrans are a bit smarter than the Peter Dutton’s and Jeremy Hanson’s of this world give them credit for. Judging by some of the comments on this thread I think all those Young Liberals and staffers Mr Hanson has been busy rallying have been busy, hindering and flooding social media to trash the Voice campaign!



I’m voting NO and it’s got noting to do with Dutton or Price. Albanese wants a YES and that means a NO from me. Whatever he wants, I’m voting the opposite

Well said. A big YES from me. It has been a dirty and misleading political campaign by Dutton. The no campaign overall has been disgraceful with lies, distraction and fermentation of hate.

Gregg Heldon10:29 am 27 Sep 23

Calling no voters racists promotes hatred too.
Neither camp have been exemplary in their behaviour. To say otherwise is disingenuous.

Well, I’m voting no. And you know nothing about my circumstances, but I assure you it won’t fit with any of your preconceived stereotypes. I also hardly hear what Dutton says. On the other hand, I follow just about everything Price and Mundine say. To me, it would be highly offensive if you said they were hate-filled liars. Highly offensive. But unfortunately par for “yes”, where sanctimony and contempt are two sides of the same coin.

Well Gregg Heldon with an activist group like Advance Australia (who recently changed its name to Advance), Fair Australia and other far right lobby groups being the chief backers of the No campaign, it is hard not to think otherwise. Advance is one of the most conservative and right wing lobby groups in Australia campaigning against the Voice. This secretive group is backed by some of the country’s richest, most powerful and reclusive individuals. It has close connections with the Australian Christian Lobby and its President was, and I am not sure whether she still is, ex ACT MLA Vicki Dunne. The group is also closely linked to Zed Seselja and his associates. People might remember Advance Australia and members of the Canberra Liberals were particularly active campaigning against the same sex marriage plebiscite.

Jeremy Hanson has been campaigning hard against the Voice. He has been active on his Facebook page and everything he publishes has been authorised and endorsed by Advance and Fair Australia!

Secretive, powerful, backed by reclusive rich individuals, shadowy but close links to retail politicians … sounds like a classic conspiracy theory. So much for the left chortling about QAnon.

I really doubt the high levels of rejection of this naff proposal can be so easily attributed to either this conspiratorial cabal of hidden puppeteers you’ve theorised, or people’s susceptibility to being manipulated. Remember the so-called pub test? It was about people coming to sceptical conclusions from their own experience and nouse. That’s what’s happening. There’s no extreme far right conspiracy orchestrating anything, Jack.

Gregg Heldon4:07 pm 27 Sep 23

And Jack? To You think it’s possible that people from both sides of politics can make up their own mind to vote yes or no. I, personally, came to my own conclusion by something that Lidia Thorpe said that made me think “that’s interesting. I hadn’t looked at that”. Investigating further made me come to the same conclusion as her, and I didn’t think I’d say that too often.
Left wing can vote no and right wing can vote yes. That’s the wonderful thing about a democracy. And they can vote, drawing their own conclusions based on any number of reasons.
And, just like Lidia and Kamahl, they can swing from side to the other based on their own research.
We know you hate everything and everyone right of centre. You don’t have to let us know on every single post you contribute here.

There are many regular contributors to this site who have a rabid opposition to those who oppose their views.

Whatever my opinions are Gregg Heldon, whether you like them or not, I have every right to contribute and will continue to do so! 

I took my lead from my cousins who are (well educated) aboriginals,
They are voting no and so am I.

Throughout history good leaders have sought to unite their citizens. Those who seek to divide and turn Australians against each other could not have devised a better strategy than this dubious, devisive and hopefully doomed referendum.

Here are two other questions for the Senator:

(1) How will a Voice to the Federal Parliament and Executive help to address the key issues that we are told need to be addressed for First Nations Peoples (health, education, policing and justice, housing, water and other utilities) when these are all matters which, under the Constitution, the Federal Government does not control and are the responsibility of States / Territories?

(2) In an attempt to address these issues, at least one state (SA) has implemented a Voice to its State Parliament and Executive through legislation and did not change the State’s Constitution. Why won’t the Federal Albanese government do the same?

GrumpyGrandpa8:50 pm 21 Sep 23

We don’t have Referendums often, and because they impact the Constitition, it’s important that the right decision is made.

My view is that if there isn’t bipartisan support, people should take that as a warning and vote No!

“That’s why it’s time for us to walk a different path”
Not all of us!
It’s indigenous people living in logistically unserviceable remote locations that need to walk the path out of those locations and get themselves and their children to cities and larger regional centres where they can access services and make the most of opportunities provided in bigger population centres. It’s the same for all, black or white as the Productivity Commission clearly stated that remoteness is the biggest factor as far as The Gaps are concerned. The YES campaign quote irrelevant and misleading National figures when indigenous v non-indigenous comparisons in like for like locational settings are nowhere near the National disparities. It’s socio-economic not ethnic. Lower social class whites living in similar areas to lower class indigenous have similar metrics. National figures include Kingston, O’Malley and Red Hill in the ACT, the Eastern Suburbs and North Shore of Sydney and Toorak in Melbourne with Yuendemu and Hermannsburg in the NT. Totally invalid and Katy and the YES campaign know this. Many, many successful indigenous designed, staffed and run programs have been operating for decades in serviceable locations. But don’t expect to hear any good news from the YES campaign as it dosen’t suit the ‘every indigenous Australian is in peril’ narrative.

But there are many well funded indigenous bodies that already have a voice. This will just create another bureaucracy that will be perpetual and signing a blank contract isn’t the wisest thing.

No Senator, the Coalition of Peaks was given responsibility in 2019 to already do what you claim this “voice” would be for. They explain who they represent and how they work with governments on their website. Why do you want the people to change the constitution to establish something that already exists?

“The Coalition of Peaks is made up of more than 80 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak and member organisations across Australia, that represent some 800 organisations.”

“The Partnership Agreement means that, for the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through their community-controlled peak organisations and members, are sharing decisions with governments on Closing the Gap, under a formal arrangement. The Partnership Agreement sets out how the Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks work and share decisions together on the design, implementation, and monitoring of Closing the Gap strategies and policies.”

“The Partnership Agreement is based on a shared belief of Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks that:
– When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are included and have a real say in the design and delivery of services that impact on us, the outcomes are far better.
– Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be at the centre of Closing the Gap policy: the gap won’t close without our full involvement.
– Australian governments cannot expect our people to be in charge of our own lives or to work constructively with them if we are excluded from decision-making.”


Quite right, it’s about listening.

If the referendum comes back “no”, will you listen or will you claim it was “the racists”?

“We cannot get complacent and assume that a resounding Yes vote from Canberra is a sure thing.”

Not sure who this “we” Senator Gallagher is referring to here, seems she’s only talking to already committed “yes” voters, which is part of the problem and has been from the beginning.

Looking at the 3 reasons provided by the Senator that has convinced her, they raise as many questions as they answer.

1. Recognition.
This doesn’t need the “Voice”. If the referendum solely was about providing recognition, it would have likely been a massive success.

What on earth is stopping people from the government listening now? Are you that incompetent that you need a constitutionally enacted lobby group to do your job?

3.Delivering Better Outcomes.
There is nothing about the voice that directly links it to providing better outcomes nor that it is the best or only way of achieving this.

“It’s clear that the current approach isn’t working. That’s why it’s time for us to walk a different path, together as a nation.”

Meaningless emotionally driven statements don’t cut it. It’s a complete untruth that this is about either a Voice or nothing.

If the current approach isn’t working, what evidence is there that the Voice will perform any differently? And why does it need constitutional change when you could have already legislated and begun trialling it months ago?

The arguments presented for change just don’t stand up to any kind of logical assessment. And when we are talking about changing our foundational legal document, they have to be better than what’s been dished up to date.

chewy14 – I would add to your point 2 – How will this consultative body be any different than the many others that have been run around the country for decades now? Are you completely discounting the many such bodies that are already being run by the well funded and staffed NIAA(among others) as “listening”?

As you stated, it’s nothing but fluffy, emotional arguments with no details on how their proposals will improve anything or how they will be different than any of the other times such advisory boards have been setup.

They might as well just admit “Well we’re out of ideas so let’s just permanently entrench divisive race based politics into the parliamentary process, it could do something, I mean, we certainly can’t explain how …but what could go wrong?”

As stated on many occasions: I will never vote for different levels of political representation based on race but we might as well accept that to people like ms Gallagher, we’re all just racists if we don’t mindlessly go along with this and she will never bother to respond to us.

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