31 July 2023

If the Voice referendum fails, where do we go from here?

| Ross Solly
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Australian flag, Australian Aboriginal Flag, Torres Strait Islander flag.

Some people are claiming they will vote No because there isn’t enough detail on how the Voice would work, but Ross Solly thinks there’s plenty of information out there. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

It now looks increasingly unlikely the Voice referendum will succeed later this year.

I’ve always treated polls with a lot of scepticism, but at the moment there are too many different polls all basically saying the same thing – the Yes and No vote is almost split 50/50, and given the extra hoops a Yes vote has to jump through to be successful, it seems the chances of First Nations Australians having a Voice to Parliament seem slim indeed.

Making it all a lot harder, and a lot more farcical, we have now a brochure doing the rounds, sent out by the Australian Electoral Commission.

The AEC was required to take the information provided to them and send it out as written, without fact checking. Some of the claims made are dubious at best, so the pamphlets are full of half-truths and nonsense on both sides.

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I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Over the weekend we had yet another case of an Indigenous sportsman being subjected to racist tirades on social media. I know (or hope) this is only a small minority of Australians, who are so poorly educated and without any decent role models in their lives to understand that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable.

But what if it’s not just a small group? After all, it’s happened on several occasions this year, across a variety of sports. It can’t always be the same people. And these are just the people dumb enough to put their racism into words and share them with the world.

Here we are in 2023, week in and week out, condemning racists for their online abuse. And at the same time, we are hoping a majority of Australians will vote in favour of giving those same First Australians a Voice to Parliament?

Many people are claiming they will vote No because there isn’t enough detail. To me, that’s a cop-out. There’s plenty of information out there, and if you can’t find it, you aren’t trying hard enough.

At least be honest, and say you haven’t tried to find the detail. And if you have read up on all the information, and your answer is still No, well that’s fine too – at least you do so having availed yourself of all the facts.

Similarly, the line that if you don’t understand it, you should vote No, is also a terrible cop-out. Surely those who are pushing this line should be doing their best to ensure all Australians understand what is at stake here? After all, they are meant to be our leaders – it’s actually not that complicated, and shouldn’t we all want a proper, thoughtful debate leading up to an informed voting process?

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese must now be weighing up whether to go ahead with this year’s referendum. The damage a successful No vote would cause can not be underestimated. What is the message that would be sent to Indigenous Australians? What is the image that will be sent around the world?

Mind you, it would simply mirror how minorities in most countries around the world are treated, but I would hope we would like to be seen as better than that.

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My tip is the vote won’t happen this year. And if it isn’t held this year, it’s unlikely it will be held for a long time.

It all started off so well. People were having civil conversations, and Australians generally agreed that a Voice to Parliament was something we needed.

But now it has well and truly run off the rails, the AEC pamphlets being a case in point.

What is the point of them? How do they help the discussion? And where do we go from here?

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Jamie Michael3:01 pm 15 Aug 23

Our political discourse is so racialised and if the Voice succeeds it will stay that way forever. Reject this nonsense – vote no!

Rob McGuigan9:42 pm 14 Aug 23

What do you mean “if” it fails. No referendum yet and already support is below 50% in every single state bar Victoria and Victoria is just hanging on to 50:50. It’s failed and along with it the ALP’S frolic into Marxist minority politics.

Definitely Albo should resign. It’s going to cost a minimum of $300 million to run this referendum. That’s enough grounds for him to find a new cause

“ it seems the chances of First Nations Australians having a Voice to Parliament seem slim indeed.” This ignores the fact that there are a dozen already in parliament and at least one in cabinet!

The reason the NO vote 🗳️ will get up is because this woke feel good value signal will not improve indigenous peoples lives except for the Aboriginal elite. Anyone else notice the silver merc at the tent embassy in Canberra… reminds me of the gold one driven by Burnam Burnam…

glen laslett11:14 am 02 Aug 23

Well, I DO understand the issues but I’m going to vote NO. Senior legal opinion is divided about the possible intrusion of the High Court in interpreting the meaning of the proposed wording. Further, many of the advocates of the Voice have been very frank about their radical intentions.

Ongoing stable governance is my primary concern.

In a way the “Voice” referendum could be considered successful even if it fails to get up as I believe the focus on the problems facing the indigenous communities especially in the outback may go some way in solving some issues – I think Jacinta Price should be given some of the credit as she more than anyone has shone a light on these problems.

rightsaidfred2:40 pm 31 Jul 23

It’s a hard NO vote for me. This Voice is not a “modest” change as suggested by Albanese, it’s the first step toward a Treaty which means “Paying the rent”, “reparations” and “compensation”. Thomas Mayos suggestion to get their hands on superannuation policy is a massive red flag as well! This is about getting hands on taxpayers money…. like it always is!

Albo the moron must think we were born yesterday. “Modest” change towards their socialist way of life. No thanks.

Barmaleo Barmaley2:25 pm 31 Jul 23

There was one country in Europe which in the middle of 1930s acknowledged rights of one nation above all others, but this was ended bad for them after all

“It all started off so well. People were having civil conversations, and Australians generally agreed that a Voice to Parliament was something we needed.”

Well yes, it did and then the usual brigade started calling anyone who disagreed with them racist, refused to answer basic questions about what was proposed and misrepresented the arguments of the other side but lets face it, this was entirely expected from the start.

…and no, we most definitely did NOT.

Do we really need a referendum to create a Voice as proposed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart? It seems cumbersome and expensive and, like the same sex marriage referendum, very damaging to the people concerned. We have an elected government that should be able to act on the recommendation of a process they funded. Why the need for a referendum?

I am vote NO. My greater concern lies with the escalating cost of living and the increasing interest rates.

HiddenDragon7:50 pm 30 Jul 23

“My tip is the vote won’t happen this year. “

That would be a very big call for a PM who has been talking about this issue, and the timing of putting it to the voters, with monumental righteous certitude since election night last year.

Deferral of the vote beyond the end of 2023 would quite rightly be seen as a very large defeat and a clear sign of political mortality for a PM who is surrounded by would-be successors whose every public performance looks a lot like an audition for the top job.

Most dangerously of all, deferral due to dismal polling, in spite of the PM having invested so much of his authority in this issue, would be a sign of that most fatal of all problems for a political leader – the public has stopped listening.

For those sorts of reasons, I think the vote will happen this year, and if deferred at all, it won’t be by much, and is still more likely than not to fall over the line.

But that’s not the point, the real point is that a “Voice” as proposed, whether or not it happens, and whether or not it’s in the Constitution or simply in an ordinary act of Parliament, is simply not going to produce anything like the magical benefits which are being hyped. All it might really change is the format, the venues and maybe the sitting fees and allowances for the usual cast of community representatives talking to the usual cast of bureaucrats about the usual issues for which the solutions are either unknown or unpalatable.

Rob McGuigan9:45 pm 14 Aug 23

If the referendum doesn’t happen this year then the Referendum Act lapses. A new Referendum Act would then have to be legislated for a referendumto occur next year or any time after that.

I am open to the concept of this but Labor seem very reluctant to share the details (or have no plan at all and are just going to make it up as they go along).
Voting YES to something so scant in details is a level of trust that I will never place upon any Government!

I’ll just leave this here: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/detail-of-indigenous-voice-to-come-after-referendum-albanese-20220731-p5b5zj.html

“Details about a proposed Indigenous Voice to parliament will not be known before a referendum on the issue, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says, arguing he does not want a repeat of the failed 1999 republic referendum.”

How does anyone see this as anything but dishonest and manipulative?

He actually said that? I used to think Albo was an absolute idiot but now I am positive he is.

Roland Warren1:19 pm 01 Aug 23

What are the details you’d like to know? Genuine question. I might be able to tell you.

Maybe when it goes down , they can stop whinging about every thing and actually down something for themselves

Excellent question. I suspect some believe it’s just going to be ‘life as we know it’. I’m not so certain. Many First Nations elders – familar faces and voices – have staked the future of their peoples and their legacy on the Voice process. If it were to fail they would be gone. Left behind. Yesterdays men and women. Who then steps into the unresolved void? What tactics and approach will they bring? Make no mistake, the issue doesn’t die with a failed Voice vote. It doesn’t go away. The political answer via a democratic process does, but the issue of First Nations people remains.

Ross Solly doesn’t seem to comprehend that the very article he has written is a good reason not to vote for it.

Don’t think of the Voice referendum as having failed. Think of it as being extremely successful in its main purpose to wedge the Liberal party, enshrine Aboriginal victimhood, portray all opponents and doubters as racists, while dividing the community into the morally superior and all others.

The average punter is more concerned with a lack of operational detail, costings and modelled effectiveness of The Voice, that is, the vehicle itself, than the esoteric nuances of Constitutional change. From my well researched and lived perspective, Ross, The Voice is just a Noble Savage fantasist and elite activist driven Albo vanity project that is just an added layer to what is an effective communication network between already on the ground. A broad network of indigenous designed and run organisations, implementing and operating long running successful programs and schemes that have benefited the hundreds of thousands of indigenous Australians that have located themselves to benefit best from the services and opportunities offered by their own people and government funded organs are already in play. I see The Voice as just another layer of governmental hard decision deferring, employing the usual suspects and diverting many millions needed to operate it from more practical usage on existing programs. I also don’t like the way the YES campaign is misleadingly using Gross The Gap statistics without giving the voter a more specific locational perspective that, even according to the recent Productivity Commission interim The Gap Report, states that the Gap data is in many cases outdated, unreliable and in some cases doesn’t even exist. They also state that ‘remoteness’ is the biggest contributor to poor indigenous statistics and that widespread smoking, which according to an ABC article today is that: Data from the Australian Burden of Disease Study showed that tobacco use was responsible for 20 per cent of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. So it’s not lack of communication, it is unsuitable location that is the killer, in so many ways. The WA Government tried to shut down remote settlements to improve access to services and opportunities but Noble Savage advocates shut the WA Government down. A big mistake. As big as The Yes mistake thinking that Constitutional Change is their biggest problem.

Macquariephil2:10 pm 30 Jul 23

If the Yes campaign is broken, fix it.

People want more detail because opponents, led by the opposition, have muddied the waters and racists, trolls and boys have used social .media to amplify disgusting and misleading arguments.

The Prime Minister needs to respond. At risk of having detail attacked, provide detail through an outline of proposed legislation.

Go on the offensive to attack Dutton’s almost non existent credibility and debunk fanciful claims.

Get more grass roots Indigenous Voices into the public domain, to explain why the Voice is needed and how it will help.

A week is a long time in a referendum.

As I linked from the SMH earlier:

“Details about a proposed Indigenous Voice to parliament will not be known before a referendum on the issue, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says, arguing he does not want a repeat of the failed 1999 republic referendum.”

Albo has made it very clear that he doesn’t want people to know the detail of the voice to parliament until after the vote as he thinks if people actually understand what they are voting for, they’ll vote no. Now why would that be exactly?

So indigenous people who are against the voice are racists and trolls?

Where the heck do you get that from the comment?

Stephen Saunders9:55 am 30 Jul 23

If it goes down, the focus should be squarely on Albanese and his misjudgment. Not Murdoch. Or Dutton. Or the racism of Australian voters, as implied here.

This is not about political white fellas. Do look beyond the horizon. This is about First Nations people and their place and future. The issue does not die with a no vote. It simply changes course. And, what that course maybe is anyone’s guess.

Perhaps if those promoting a Yes vote actually tried to address the legitimate concerns of undecided and no voters, we’d be better off than the continued weak straw-manning and ignorance put forward once again here?

“The draft wording that has been announced goes beyond ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a right to participate in decision-making that affects them. It inserts race into the Australian Constitution in a way that undermines the foundational human rights principles of equality and non-discrimination and creates constitutional uncertainty in terms of its interpretation and operation.” (Lorraine Finlay, The Australian, 30 March 2023. Lorraine Finlay is the Human Rights Commissioner and has previously worked at the High Court of Australia as a Judges’ Associate.)

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