30 August 2023

Prime Minister announces 14 October as Voice to Parliament referendum date

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Gary Humphries (second from left) and three Yes vote supporters

Former Canberra Liberals ACT senator and chief minister Gary Humphries (second from left) showing his support for Yes this morning. Photo: Travis Radford.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced that Australians will vote on whether to enshrine the Voice to Parliament as an independent advisory body in the Constitution on Saturday, 14 October.

The announcement was made today with Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney and South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas in front of a crowd in the northern Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth. The venue was reportedly chosen in an effort to reinvigorate flagging support for the Yes vote among working-class voters in the outer suburbs of major cities.

Canberra Yes campaign

ACT local and federal political members of all persuasions were out in force in the city this morning to support the Yes vote. Photo: Travis Radford

The Prime Minister said that on 14 October, “Every Australian will have a once-in-a-generation chance to bring our country together and to change it for the better”.

“To vote for recognition, listening and better results, and I ask all Australians to vote Yes!

“On October 14th, you are not being asked to vote for a political party or for a person, you’re being asked to vote for an idea,” he added.

“To say yes to an idea whose time has come.

“To say yes to an invitation that comes directly from Aboriginal and Torres Strait people themselves. A proposal that thousands of elders and leaders and communities all over our country have worked on for well over a decade. A change supported by more than 80 per cent of Indigenous Australians.

“A way for all of us to recognise Indigenous Australians and their history in our constitution and a form of recognition that will make a positive difference to their lives and their futures.”

The referendum question will ask one question: A Proposed Law to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?

If passed, the constitution will be amended to include the ‘Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’. Voting for all eligible Australians is compulsory.

The last referendum conducted in Australia was the unsuccessful 1999 effort for Australia to become a republic and for the insertion of a preamble to the Constitution.

READ ALSO What should we make of the Voice referendum polling?

The last successful referendum was in 1977 when voters approved an amendment to the Constitution to allow electors in Australian territories to vote at referendums, to alter the Australian Constitution concerning the filling of casual vacancies in the Senate, and to introduce a retirement age of 70 for federal judges. Of the 44 referendums held since Federation, only eight have successfully passed.

In Canberra City this morning, politicians of all persuasions came together to campaign for Yes.

Pocock

ACT Independent Senator David Pocock engages with commuters in Alinga Street this morning. Photo: Travis Radford.

ACT Senator Katy Gallagher said, “I guess the unofficial campaign has been going for some time, but today really marks the start of the official campaign. I think it’s where you’ll see a lot of people who haven’t engaged on the issue start looking and learning and reaching out for information.

“All of us here, right across the political spectrum, individual community members that have never been involved in political campaigning, they are getting behind this campaign because we want to be part of shaping our country’s future. We want to be part of driving better outcomes for First Nations people, and we genuinely see this as a real opportunity to make a difference.”

Standing with Senator Gallagher, Liberals for Yes campaigner Clare Carnell added, “We know that good policy is always about consulting with the people who will be directly affected by it.

“Indigenous policy in this country has, let’s be fair, not worked on a lot of things for a long time. We’re excited about getting stuck into the Yes campaign and the Voice getting up and making a real difference for First Nations people in this country.”

READ ALSO AEC ramps up education campaign to counter Voice misinformation

ACT Independent Senator David Pocock said it was great to be there with his cross-bench colleagues to talk about the referendum.

“This will be a defining moment in Australia’s history,” he said.

“Over 80 per cent of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people are supportive of the Voice. This was on the back of one of the most consultative processes in Australian history,” he added.

“The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a generous offer to all of us, not just to politicians but to all Australians, to change the way we do things when it comes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs.”

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Yesterday, two aboriginal protesters were found guilty of trying to burn down Old Parliament House, causing $5m damage. As the doors to this historic and symbolic building burned, their chanting supporters linked arms to prevent police from intervening, calling it the “house of genocide”. This sort of behaviour from a fringe mob of Aboriginal agitators undermines public confidence in prospects for the Voice.

Imagine being so angry and hateful that you’d vote no. Enough injustice has been done to the Indigenous people of Australia since English settlement. They have suffered greatly. What kind of human being would deny them a voice in their own land? VOTE YES.

Wow. Not helping the Yes vote at all. Imagine being so angry and hateful that you put down people who may vote No for justifiable reasons.

You ought not mistake the arrogance of moral righteousness for being well informed. And sorry to say, clearly you are not. 1) nobody sensible is “denying them a voice”. It’s about the strong inadequacies of this particular proposal. 2) just today Bess Price (do you know who she is? Do you believe she’s evil because that’s what your activist friends told you?) wrote her reasons for voting no. Oh, in Quadrant (cue massive, poorly informed, freakout). Are you now to lord it over her and say all the usual racialist stuff like that she’s a self-hating Aboriginal? Or get into some real hate-fuelled racial vilification of her? You need to accept that people have their own reasons, their own agency, not that they’re simply evil, as you’ve more or less argued in your post. Then, when you’ve gotten off your high-horse moral arrogance, you can try argue “yes” from a more humble and informed standpoint. Meantime, you’re an advertisement why to vote “no”.

Hi Rusty, so saying no to a Voice is not denying First Nations people a Voice. Hmm – that’s a bit of stretch. And the “strong inadequacies”? Well, we’d all like to hear what these are because constitutional lawyers don’t agree wth you. There is certainly nothing inadequate about giving First Nations people an advisory body on matters that affect them. There really is nothing radical or scary about that. A little knowledge of our history will show you that this is something that has not been done well to date. Regarding your point about some Indigenous people not supporting a Voice to Parliament, I guess this may come as a surprise to you that Indigenous people, just like European Australians (and Australians from other backgrounds), may differ in their opinions. That’s how our democratic system works. Despite an alternative view though, between 80 to 83% of First Nations people support a Voice to Parliament.

Astro,
Not going into the rest of your comment because it’s been well covered elsewhere, just a fact check on your claimed level of Indigenuous support being between 80-83%.

These figures were based on two polls (300, 700 people) conducted in March commissioned by pro Voice organisations.

They are significantly out of date (all other polls, support has dropped 15-20% since then) and contain serious methodology flaws due to the known inherent difficulty in getting good representative samples of Indigenuous Australians. Along with the fact that the referendum question and proposal wasn’t known at the time.

Any claim to definitively knowing figures on this is not accurate. Although as we’ve already established, that hasn’t stopped you elsewhere.

Even RMIT Fact Check, who have been accused of bias in support of the Voice and recently suspended from Factchecking for Facebook because of it, has urged caution over the use of those figures.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-08-02/fact-check-indigenous-australians-support-for-the-voice/102673042

This continual appeal that the plebs (unlike the anointed enlightened classes) should disreard their own faculties and always genuflect to “the experts” is a symptom of the overall push by the latest generation of the professional-managerial class to eliminate all opinions that aren’t part of their narrow conformist groupthink narratives. There’s plenty of cases where “the experts” have been proven wrong. Not of course that you yourself would know, because for those such as yourself, it’s all “the experts” v “far right wing conspiracy theorists”. And that view of the world comes from being indoctrinated into prejudice against all but your own class/ideological interests, and an arrogant lack of curiosity driven by a pompous belief that it’s impossible by definition for politically allied “experts” to ever be wrong. Such a simplistic childlike view of a complex world. Far from the old ideal of viewpoint tolerance and the old uni student’s catchcry of “question everything”.

Hi chewy14, the polls were conducted by IPSOS and YouGov, both well recognised objective pollsters. The article you’ve cited agrees that these are the most accurate poll results showing Indigenous support for the Voice. If you have any evidence of other polls showing a different result please feel free to cite them. Notably : “…experts endorsed the methodology of the YouGov poll in particular and said that both polls were the best available evidence of Indigenous Australians’ attitude to awards the Voice.” . Further information on Indigenous support for the Voice comes from the University of NSW article “Ten questions about the Voice to Parliament – answered by the experts” (refer q 1 “Do Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people support the Voice?”). It’s interesting that the article you cited raises the issue of the difficulty in getting a representative sample from Indigenous communities. Sounds like yet another good point about why we need an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, to address these difficulties.

Hi Astro,
Thanks for repeating my own evidence showing why your claims don’t reflect any kind of definitive evidence of indigenuous support and should be viewed with caution for the very reasons outlined, even noting the inherent “Yes” bias in the source.

The UNSW article simply rehashes the same unreliable polling data.

It’s a standard tactic used by activists, though easily seen through by those who actually understand the data.

You’re the one making the claim around the level of indigenuous support, if you have evidence showing better or more recent numbers that have addressed the clear polling inaccuracy issues, I’d love to see it. Until then, we’ll have to take your claims as unverified speculation based on weak evidence.

Although I do find it amusing for you to attempt to grasp these polling numbers whilst brushing off the far more extensive polls run by numerous different organisations now showing that the majority of Australians oppose the Voice.

Happy to continue if you’ve got any relevant links to evidence to present supporting your claims otherwise have a nice day.

Hi Chewy14, appreciate your gratitude mate, just thought that what you said needed clarification. You obviously don’t like the results of these two verifiable surveys showing that 80 – 83% of Indigenous people support the Voice. They clearly don’t support your strong activist beliefs. However that doesn’t change the outcome. In regards to the other survey results that you refer to, yes, they look like the 2019 pre-election survey results, all of which said that Labor would romp home – we all know the results….be careful what you wish for.

“In regards to the other survey results that you refer to, yes, they look like the 2019 pre-election survey results, all of which said that Labor would romp home – we all know the results….be careful what you wish for.”

Astro,
Glad you agree with me that poorly designed polling using unrepresentative samples like the claimed indigenuous support for the Voice is fraught with danger although you must have forgotten to add the links I asked for. Here’s one about those 2019 results.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/nov/11/opinion-poll-failure-at-australian-federal-election-systematically-over-represented-labor

Although I’m not sure why you think the current Voice polling is similar, surely they couldn’t be overestimating the ALP backed position by that much again?

Based on the data I don’t think the Yes vote can go much lower, no need to be so despondent.

Hi Chewy14, good that you acknowledge that surveys aren’t always a predictor of electoral (or referendum) success. As to “ALP-backed”, that’s inaccurate as the Independents, Greens, Tasmanian Liberals Government, other state-based Liberal opposition parties and a number of Federal Liberals back the Referendum (including the former Minister for indigenous affairs Ken Wyatt, Julian Leeser, Julie Bishop, etc etc). 80 – 83% of Indigenous support though does suggest that our First Nations people would like to have a Voice and are simply asking to be listened to in making policy and programs that affect them. i’m sure you agree that this is just common sense. The younger demographic supports the Voice, a demographic which will gradually take over the reins of power so I’m not despondent about that are you?

Many common questions addressed in this roll-up article:
https://theconversation.com/the-voice-to-parliament-explained-212100

Oh well, it doesn’t look like my militant and old snarly friend Jeremy Hanson is going reply to my post below. I’ll try not to get too upset. I believe Jeremy Hanson could be one of the angriest and most raging parliamentarian we have seen in the ACT Assembly’s history. Like Territory rights, same sex marriage and drug law reforms before, the Voice campaign has certainly got Jeremy all worked up.
Jeremy is the most aggressive of his party in opposing the Voice referendum and has been the only public face for the Canberra Liberals during the campaign. I understand that the party’s conservative members who dominate the party are firmly behind his stance and the moderates remain cowed and mute.
I have never noticed Jeremy taking an interest in Aboriginal rights during his many years in opposition in the Assembly. He now has a couple of conservative and privileged LNP mates to guide and help him on his way. It helps that these mates are Indigenous and appear hostile to their own peoples needs.
I also have no doubts that Canberrans are good and charitable people who will overwhelmingly vote in favour of the Voice. I am also confident that the referendum will be successful.
I am looking forward to waking up on 15 October 2023 knowing that the Canberra Liberals, Jeremy Hanson and their ilk are once again on the wrong side of history!

1. So where is the document describing the checks and balances? Or is that only coming after we write the blank cheque?

2. I refuted the “advisory” spiel. You don’t need to repeat your unsubstantiated faith-and-hope assertion on that. As I said, it’s down to street smarts. People who credulously believe what they’re told in service of a utopian ideal (or else axe-grinders dissimulating as part of their belief the frontier wars are unfinished business), vs people who are more street-smart, circumspect, and attuned to how power operates.

This comment was meant for astro2, under my original post. That person asserted the Voice has “checks and balances”, and that it’s certain to never be anything more than mildly “advisory”.

Hi Rusty, to answer your question, the checks and balances are in our parliamentary system. The Voice cannot make or approve legislation or spend money. And, by the way, “we” are not writing a blank cheque. In regards to your claims that the advisory body is not an advisory body, obviously that is an unfounded belief that you have. Unfortunately it isn’t backed up by fact but you’re welcome to believe in fairies in the bottom of the garden if you wish. It’s not down to “street smarts” which you obviously don’t have. If you want to believe in conspiracies no one can stop you. The poor schmucks that were conned into trying to take over the Capital in Washington obviously believed in what they were doing too. Didn’t make it true though.

Your assertion holds no more water than mine. The details are being kept away from the run-up to the vote, presumably because they’d be damning to the Yes case. People are being deliberately kept in the dark. Its anyone’s guess what the actual form of the Voice will be, including its powers and its “checks and balances”.

I listen to what the activists say, and they say they aren’t interested in anything except complete restoration of Aboriginal sovereignty under traditional Law. Progressives are in thrall to that. So it’s pretty clear the Voice will maximalise caste-based power to the fullest extent possible.

My assertion is they’ll take as much power as they can get by whatever means possible, because that’s how I assess the field in lieu of a proper detailed proposal. Your assertion is they’ll generously hold out their hand in a purely symbolic gesture of reconciliation, and wouldn’t dream of playing hardball.

The rest of your post is just standard ad-homs, because you don’t have effective arguments, but is also a kind of bullying which underlines my point about “by whatever means possible”. Bullying is totally on the table for “Yes”. Simply observing your verbal behaviour, obviously none of “Yes” is about bringing people together. It’s about creating a power divide.

Hi Rusty, the details aren’t being “kept away” by anyone. Refer to the Constitution Part 5 ‘Powers of the Parliament’ section 51 (ii) “The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of this Commonwealth in relation to ….(ii) taxation; but so as not to discriminate between States or parts of the States;. “As you can read here in the Constitution there is no detail of how this taxation will be undertaken – was this being “kept away” from anyone? -no, of course not. That is because it is the purpose of the Constitution to confer a power to do something; not to describe in detail how it is done as that is in the legislation drawn up and approved by both Houses of Parliament. That is how our system works. It’s sad that you are accusing the ‘Yes’ side of bullying without any evidence. Your point about “activists” isn’t correct as there is no power conferred in the proposed recognition and Voice to allow for the claims you are making. If you would like to read more about the recognition and Voice I’m happy to send some links.

Oh, a civil response. But the evidence of bullying is: the standard level of debate from Yes. Racism, conspiracy, fascism, illiteracy, basic idiocy, etc., are the go-to accusations for “Yes”. It’s all aggressive, demeaning, offensive personal attacks and very little substance. And here, you’ve only provided very general, generic constitutional clauses, hoping I’ll be kowtowed (lest I be drubbed with further bullying ad-homs) into accepting that’s equivalent to actual detail on this particular proposal. But of course it’s not equivalent. The closest “Yes” actually has is “Document 14”, the one that last year Megan Davis suggested we all read, but now she states isn’t part of the proposal, and that “Yes” is running around calling a conspiracy theory, desperate to disown it. It’s all turning into a farce of your own fault, and that’s reflected in the latest dismal polling for “yes”. If only you’d approached this with integrity instead of relying on deception and bullying.

Astro attempting (poorly) to play both sides of the street here.

On one hand claiming that he can definitively say (not speculate) that the Voice will improve outcomes for Indigenuous Australian, yet at the same time claiming the referendum only conveys a power and the government cannot provide any detail on the form and how it will work because that will be up to parliament to decide.

Which one is it? Because they both can’t be true.

Just highlighting more of the weak and hypocritical logic Astro is applying, with one rule for the yes side and another for the no.

No actually, the point is that the Voice is developing policy based around what Indigenous people have asked for. That definitely makes for better outcomes, although no one is saying that it will be a silver bullet nor will it immediately change outcomes that have been going on for many years. It would obviously be disingenuous to claim that it would. This isn’t playing both sides of the street, just putting forward a balanced view of the facts around this issue. In regards to your claim that detail must be provided in the Constitution it’s surprising that you would not be aware of the process of a referendum conferring a power to do something and then the Parliament developing the legislation once the authority has been conferred by a referendum. This is pretty clear. It’s sad that you have to start calling people hypocrites, not the way to win an argument Chewy14, you should know that by now.

Astro,
“That definitely makes for better outcomes”.

So you double down , then weirdly attempt to justify your continued speculation.

Again, you cant possibly know this any more than the people on the No side outlining the risks and potential negatives that could occur can.

Because as you say, it’s up to the Parliament to decide the form and function of the Voice after the referendum, which we currently have little detail on.

I’m simply agreeing with your point on that.

Along with highlighting the inconsistencies in claiming definitive things around the Voice’s effectiveness whilst name calling others for doing the same.

I thought you would know that type of hypocrisy and name calling isn’t the way to win an argument by now?

“In regards to your claim that detail must be provided in the Constitution”

I haven’t claimed this anywhere, so the rest of your comment is moot.

Oh boy, I’ve got to stop using this tablet to write comments. It gets stuck and next thing shoots off the comment before I’m finished. Anyway, to continue:
Nobody is suggesting copy-pasting the legislation itself into the constitution. What is being suggested is to have the draft legislation prepared for review. Because otherwise, everything “yes” asserts is just that: unsubstantiated assertion.

StuartM has above pasted a link to “The Conversation” guide to “yes”. I dipped in. Again, it’s all pretty weak and flimsy.

This is the whole problem. We’re (disingenuously) being told the whole proposal is based on a one-page document. Who does that? Any grant proposal even, requires a good few pages of detail. And this is a constitutional amendment, to be just based on a brief “trust us” promissory note.

“So you double down” no apologies for doubling down on the truth. I’d be surprised if anyone thinks that not consulting with people affected by a policy, or developing a consultative mechanism based on what the affected group asked for, makes for effective policy. As to “outlining risks”, what are the risks? None have been identified by constitutional experts in developing the referendum. An advisory body on first nations issues – ooooh scary. If you are upset about not having enough detail on the Voice perhaps you could cite some passages in the Constitution where the model for implementation was set up before the inclusion in the Constitution. You could start with taxation perhaps, where’s the detail? As to your claims about name-calling, perhaps provide some – ah – detail?

@Rustygear
If people like you had their way in the late 1800s we would not even have a Constitution. “What do you mean you want us to give Parliament a blank cheque to make laws on things like taxation?”
Fortunately wiser heads ruled the day and we now have a Constitution that underpins the taxation laws which successive governments have introduced and amended over the years. Funny how that original lack of detail in S51 didn’t lead to the end of the world as early 20th Century Australians knew it.

Hmm, no. Taxation law was well understood in our legal system, and indeed essential to government. Plenty of precedent to work with. And the constitution was preceded by the convention, serious draft legislature, and common civilisational commitment. All quite different from the unprecedented Activism Studies late homework being served up now.

Funny, even the flaky foundation document (Doc 14) is now being treated like a radioactive t..d by its own authors, amid a welter of accusations of conspiracy theory and Albo doing his gormless best to say it’s totally unrelated to the one-pager of platitudes we’re supposed to buy. What an undignified spectacle it all is, like the circus tent collapsed with you all inside. Your position is routed, and it’s *all an own-goal*! You might as well go back to angry bitter activist mode and rant on about q-anon, since you’ve got nothing more to lose at this point. People are walking away.

@Rustygear
“Taxation law was well understood in our legal system …”
Really, Rustygear, back in 1898, they knew that, for example, almost 100 years later there’d be a GST?
As for the rest of your comment – I have no idea of your point but I’m sure it means something to you.

Justsaying,
Ironically a large part of the opposition to Federation and the referendums that occurred was from people claiming that it would result in increased taxation.

It’s hard to suggest that those people were wrong based on the recorded history of taxation law in this country.

Although as a power that wasn’t already able to be legislated by the parliament it is fundamentally different to the Voice which is currently already allowed for in the constitutional powers given to the federal government. They don’t need a referendum to enact it.

As for Astro’s claim above that detail is never provided to support constitutional change, he must not remember the last referendum on the republic in 1999. Where a very detailed proposal was put forward after a lengthy consultation process, constitutional convention and a specific republic model chosen prior to the referendum.

Something that many historians and researchers claim was deliberately chosen as a strategy by Howard to ensure the failure of the referendum.

Which as anyone following the Voice issue knows is part of the reason why the current government doesn’t want to provide detail on the proposal, or as Mr Albanese said himself in 2022:

“What I am not going to do, David, is to go down the cul-de-sac of getting into every detail. Because that is not a recipe for success.”

@chewy14
“It’s hard to suggest that those people were wrong based on the recorded history of taxation law in this country.”
As usual you proffer an opinion as if it’s fact. You obviously have an issue eith taxation – many of us so it as a means to an end, but of course you have the right to a different opinion.

Really JS, they knew in the 1901 referendum there’d be a GST? Chortle, chortle, I win the internet today. As for the rest of your comment – I have no idea of your point but I sure it means so something to you. Because after all, habitual condescension fuelled my massive over-regard for my own intellect is my go-to speech tic.

Justsaying,
it’s recorded history on the arguments for and against federation and how the tax system has evolved since then.

https://treasury.gov.au/publication/economic-roundup-winter-2006/a-brief-history-of-australias-tax-system

See that little pretty graph there showing the massive growth in federal taxation over the 20th century? I mean, i’d suggest to read a book or do some basic research before commenting but clearly you aren’t interested in learning any factual information.

“You obviously have an issue eith (sic) taxation”

How on earth you’ve extrapolated a comment on the historic arguments used by people in the late 1800’s around federation into what you think my opinion on taxation is, I have no idea. But you do love your strawmen, so I’ll leave you to your opinion. For what it’s worth.

astro2
“Thanks for the question Bob. The Voice will offer a better and more ensured consultation mechanism.”

That didn’t at all answer the question that I asked. Saying that it’s a “better” consultation mechanism doesn’t in any way explain how it is going to fix any of the issues facing the indigenous people.

There have been consultative bodies set up for literally decades. If you look at the NIAA website, they have over 1200 staff and host such consultative bodies all over the country. If anyone has any amazing ideas on how to improve things, there are more than sufficient places they can go to make such proposals, up to an including the minister that is dedicated to the topic.

These bodies have been in place for many years, are well funded, well staffed and have thus far led to zero improvement but we are supposed to accept on faith with zero evidence, that somehow this time will be different… but no-one seems capable of explaining exactly how this is the case.

You’re partially right Bob, the Voice is certainly no “silver bullet” to fix centuries of Indigenous disadvantage. However it is a mechanism that the majority of Indigenous people and their representatives have asked for. Yes there have been other things tried before and many committed people have worked tirelessly, and will continue to do so, to address the gaps in education, health, housing, etc. The Voice will entrench these efforts in a consultative body and will also recognise First Nations people in our Constitution.

astro2
My point is that your side of the debate keeps saying that this is needed to fix these issues but have not managed to provide any explanation as to how exactly this is the case, why there is a need to provide different levels of political representation based on race and how this supposedly isn’t ridiculously divisive to do so.

One of the founding principles or liberal, western democracies for centuries now is the idea that we are all treated equally and have the same vote and representation regardless of gender, religion OR race. This has always been considered a good thing and one of the main differentiations between us and the many authoritarian systems that have existed throughout history.

You would have to have a VERY good justification to try and throw this system out the window to institute what you have proposed and it’s very clear to many, that you have failed to do so. If you are unable to explain exactly HOW this will help in any way apart from using fluffy, emotional language, it will always remain a no from the majority of reasonable people.

hi Bob, history tells us that, despite the noble protestations that we are all treated equally, in practice, we aren’t. One of our workplace First Nations representatives was telling us about her family in NSW and how, not so long ago, they had to pretend they were from India, to get a place to rent or work. Can you imagine having to tell an untruth about where you came from, simply to get something that those of us from a white European background, take for granted? To redress this imbalance isn’t throwing the system out the window, it is simply improving it as we did with the marriage equality laws. I agree with you – we have a good system of government and the ability to improve it is one of the reasons that it remains good. (And, sometimes, better.)

astro2, I am not talking about equality of outcome, I am not referencing the way that someone is treated by others, I am talking directly about equality under the law, equality of votes and political representation that is provided to everyone within society which has (rightly) been the bedrock of liberal western democracies since the start.

This absolutely is attempting to get rid of this principle as there will be a group inserted into the middle of the political process, guaranteed by the constitution who’s sole purpose is the advocacy for a single race… yet somehow people on your side of the argument don’t see that as divisive when we would literally be setting different levels of political representation based on race.

Thanks you for bringing up marriage equality issue, something for which I happily voted yes, for the very reason that I am now going to be voting no; The principle of equality.

If you honestly believe that granting members of one race political representation above and beyond that of members of any other race is “improving” the system, I vehemently disagree and doubt we would ever see eye to eye on that particular point.

Hi Bob, just to address your concerns about inequality under the law and equality of votes and political representation, that will still remain equal, (although i note that you don’t’ appear to be concerned about the obvious inequality that people in the ACT and Northern Territory experience under the referendum – a majority of votes and a majority of states – not territories, rendering Canberra votes not equal to those in Queanbeyan. It’s odd that you’re not concerned about that?). Could you explain how granting recognition of First nations people in the Constitution and allowing them a Voice about matters that affect them, affects you and renders you less equal than them because, to be honest, I can’t. The issue of marriage equality was also described as “divisive” at the time but it does show that we can always improve on our system though doesn’t it.

astro2 No, it most definitely won’t remain equal. The second you entrench a group who’s entire purpose is the advocacy for a single race into the middle of the political process, you have destroyed the principle of equal treatment of people of all races. Are you seriously attempting to state that affording a higher level of political representation for a single race over all others within our parliament does not do this? If so, I would love to know exactly how the math works in your head for that one.

I am interested in individual rights and representation. If the variance in treatment between the states and territories overly bothered me, I’d simply relocate to Queanbeyan, nice attempt to derail from the points at hand though.

This has NOTHING to do with recognition of the aboriginal people within the constitution and never did. As I have stated many times now, if they put forward the question of recognition, it would win hands down; your side however is dishonestly conflating two entirely separate issues which are 1) altering the constitution to recognise the aboriginal people and 2) Inserting a constitutionally guaranteed additional level of representation for the aboriginal people above and beyond all others into the political process.

It’s your side of this issue that is pushing for these changes so the burden of proof is on you if you expect to convince people that these changes will somehow fix the issues or be any different than all the other advisory bodies that have existed for decades now …as you have repeatedly stated they will. Based on the continual drop in support once people actually started to figure out what your side was pushing (a drop to 38% support as of today) it appears that you are failing …badly.

hi Bob, you haven’t clearly explained how there would be inequality imposed by the referendum. Exactly how will it impact you and make you feel less “equal” than some of the most marginalised in out country. And why are there such unequal outcomes continuing for First Nations people? (And, yes, outcomes do matter, particularly when you are the one that is experiencing those unequal outcomes.) At least you’ve admitted that there is a process that is clearly unequal in the way voters in territories are treated. Just “moving to Queanbeyan” doesn’t change the inequality though does it. You’re still unclear on how listening to First Nations people will improve policy development on Indigenous issues. Regarding polls (particularly Newspoll) results it’s sad that playing on fear and confusion can worry people about outcomes, however the more information that is disseminated to allay these fears then the better outcomes will likely ensue. The 2019 election polls didn’t look good for the Coalition either and we all know how that turned out.

I think Bob has taken time to explain his position quite well. Certainly well written. He’s made it clear that it’s about equality of formal democratic political representation. Of course, there’s more to power and society than that. But here the question is only about formal processes, and who gets to represent through them.

You’ve tried to substitute a different understanding of equality, relevant to the context but not the mechanics of the representational process. He’s already noticed you doing that and countered, but you’re trying again to obfuscate his point. So it’s just going around in circles.

Further, there’s no evidence he (or I) think that listening is unimportant. In my case, I’ve based a professional career on listening. I even wrote a book about consultation in government process. But that’s a whole different story from Bob’s point, that you don’t need constitutionally entrenched extra powers of formal representation unavailable to other citizens, to do that. He’s saying that, at the level of liberal democratic principle. I’d add that it’s an unproven policy hypothesis, without any compelling argument (one page of platitudes doesn’t cut it).

And that’s on top of my point, which is the “yes” camp refuse to spell out exactly what constitutionally entrenched legislative powers would be, beyond the vague platitudes, diversions, plenty of passionate but unfounded assertions, and ranty personal accusations.

Dear Mr Hanson
I note your comment in the thread below.

You have been acting leader of the Canberra Liberals for three months and your leader Elizabeth Lee has recently returned from maternity leave. During your time as leader and deputy of the Canberra Liberals, you have been front and centre of the Voice campaign, very vocal in your opposition to it and hostile to those holding different views advocating for change. This is despite all state and territory leaders publicly supporting the Voice and signing a joint statement formally endorsing it prior to the National Leaders Conference earlier this year. 

The Voice referendum seeks to provide a more effective route which will help inform our government’s policy and legal decisions impacting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ lives. For the first time in our country’s history, the Voice will enshrine and recognise in our Constitution the special place our Indigenous brothers and sisters hold in this country’s narrative. It is a Voice only which which seeks to ensure that our Indigenous peoples’ desires and hopes are not silenced or shut down again by successive governments into the future.

You have been actively assisted in your opposition to the Voice by the powerful and socially conservative elements of your party. This includes far-right lobby and religious groups, the party’s management committee and the Young Liberal youth movement in particular.

There have been many community events in our city and around the country in which our citizens have been supportive in advocating for change. Labor members, the Greens and Independent parliamentarians, both federal and local have been also been highly active and involved in these events.

Despite your ongoing and aggressive advocacy on this issue, Leader Elizabeth Lee and other party members of the Canberra Liberals remain mute on the subject and refuse to answer questions.

Would you inform readers once and for all in this thread whether it is the Canberra Liberals policy to oppose the Voice to Parliament referendum to be held on 14 October 2023?

HiddenDragon6:44 pm 31 Aug 23

Some very interesting perspectives on the process which led to the Voice proposal, and on what it would achieve – or not achieve – compared to current arrangements, in this interview earlier this afternoon with Michael Mansell –

https://www.abc.net.au/listen/programs/radionational-drive/tasmanian-indigenous-leader-michael-mansell-voting-no/102800956

In their wisdom the founders of Australia and the creators of the Constitution gave us, the people of Australia the power to approve or reject changes to the Constitution.
They gave this power in the form of a referendum requiring any change to the Consitution to be approved by the majority of people in a majority of states.
So why did they give this power to the people and not to politicians?
It was because those founders trusted the common sense, of the common people, to protect the common interest, more than they trusted the motivations of myopic politicians pandering to lobby goups acting in their own interst.
Referendums are there for us to guard the Constitution from attacks which may be the more insidious because they are superficially attractive and deceptively innocuous.

Wow! A conspiracy theory. Quick – storm the Capital to stop the stolen election. Oh wait, that was somewhere else.

Thank you for so clearly demonstrating the shallowness and intellectual deficit of your cause.

“…It was because those founders trusted the common sense, of the common people, to protect the common interest”

Yes, which is why Australia will be voting no to this divisive garbage.

If anyone’s ever bothered to read the Uluru statement, the one pager… it reads like it’s been written by a ten year old. Do we want language like that in our constitution? Make our highest legal document based on “the heart” and “feelings”?

After the supposed heartfelt platitudes it reads like an internet rant banging on about incarceration and victimhood and accusing our very legal system of discrimination with no proposed solutions except a “voice”. Encourage others to read it, it’s a real eye opener for me and not in a good way.

One of the best bits is where it states “we are not an innately criminal people”. Imagine Australia rocking up to the United Nations and in our address claiming we “are not an innately racist people”!

What a load of rubbish. We already know the words proposed for the Constitution – take the time to read the numerous published articles on it. The Uluru statement merely set the tenor for what is being proposed as an addition to the Constitution.

My vote is for sale. I intend to vote no because after the last three years I don’t trust government at any level at all. Let me see some politicians and public servants punished for their pandemic policies, and I will vote yes.

Please educate yourself on what the voice is about and make an informed decision on your choice of vote.
Not one because you wish to see someone punished.

I don’t trust government at all after the last three years. Why should I believe anything they write?

The problem is not stating “recognition”. The problem is the Voice. It’s a governance body whose powers aren’t being officially discussed. We’re to just take it that’s its a “generous offer”, “from the heart”, “walking hand in hand down the road”, i.e. we’re getting emotional spin not policy substance. But we do know membership of this powerful quasi-parliamentary body is only available to people of one ancestry. It’s a caste system, and racially divisive, right at the core of the national constitution. For all that, nobody’s said how it will “close the gap”. That’s because it’s nebulous and untested. “Closing the Gap” is a so-called “wicked problem” (a professional policy theory phrase), and this is in no way a magic bullet. The Voice is highly likely to be populated by intransigent activists, both in its representatives and its secretariat, so that government will grind to a halt– a feature not a bug for such people. Risks vs benefits? It’s no from me.

@Rustygear
“The problem is the Voice. It’s a governance body …”
What part of the proposed wording of the change to the Constitution will make the Voice a governance body?
“… may make representations to … “ doesn’t seem like governance to me.

“The Voice is highly likely to be populated by intransigent activists, both in its representatives and its secretariat, so that government will grind to a halt …” Again baseless hyperbole.

By all means exercise your right to vote “No” but for heaven’s sake stick to the facts rather than fabrications.

The Voice is NOT a governance body – that implies it will have an oversight role, which it doesn’t. It is a mechanism to provide input to issues, and this input can either be taken on-board or not. I doubt that Parliament will grind to a halt from that.

JS if it’s not a governing body why does it need to be in the Constitution then?

Sam, the purpose of the Constitution is to establish the Federal Government by providing for the Parliament, the Executive Government and the Judicature (referred to as the ‘three arms of government’). It is not intended to document process or mechanisms for how the three arms will operate, merely “the vibe”.

The proposed amendments are to formally recognise the First Nation people as the original inhabitants, and to establish a broad capability which will ensure they are “listened to” in matters that affect them. The specifics will be subsequently determined by Parliament, and no doubt tuned so as to work to the intent over future years.

Again, the Constitution does Not set out how the Voice will work, merely that it will exist.

Some respondents here have asserted that the Voice won’t be a governance body. Here’s the thing: nobody actually knows. You have to make up your own mind on this, in the circumstance where the Voice’s powers haven’t actually been formulated. You just have to use your smarts. It’s people who believe in utopian ideals or that the “frontier wars” are unfinished business, versus realists and the street-wise.

“Document 14” (the one that RMIT fact-checked as not being part of the Uluru statement on the basis of a single authority statement, even though its pages are all consecutive from the “one-pager” on page one, all under the same running document header) says “There was a concern that the proposed body would have insufficient power if its constitutional function was ‘advisory’ only, and there was support in many Dialogues for it to be given stronger powers so that it could be a mechanism for providing ‘free, prior and informed consent’”.

Albo said last year “it would be a very brave government” who would defy the Voice: i.e., as a constitutional body directed toward respect and reconciliation, and eventually truth-telling and treaty, it would have enormous moral force. And obviously the weapon is that any government that doesn’t accede is “racist”.

And really, what are we voting on? The background, but real, part is the referendum bill’s directive that Parliament is, after a successful “yes” vote, “to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.” We don’t know those powers yet, it’s open slather.

Strident Voice advocates aren’t interested in a meek cup of tea and a chance to talk. They seek significant power to address grievances. This is meant to affect governance in a meaningful, forceful way. It will be a governance body.

Rustygear:- Well said. Nailed it. You have articulately made your point.

It will NOT be a governance body – you need to look up what that means, and stop trying to create issues where there are none.

The wording for the amendment is that there will be a Voice to make representations on matters relating to First nation people, and that Parliament (not the Voice), which remember is comprised of members elected by their various electorates, will make laws relating to it. The latter is merely acknowledging that what’s in the Constitution sets the intent, but Parliament will separately work out how it works. That detail is NOT enshrined in the Constitution.

Hi Rusty, I think that some of your points need to be corrected. Your first para says that “nobody actually knows” whether or not the Voice will be a governance body. Yes, constitutional experts do “actually know” and have made it perfectly clear to everyone that it is not a governance body. Your second para refers to documents where people were discussing what type of model the Voice should be. When this matter was settled to the majority of representative groups, the Uluru Statement became a record of that agreement. It’s not a conspiracy Rusty, although obviously there’s lots of false conspiracy-style nonsense out there on social media. Your third para claimed that the PM said something that he probably didn’t. Although if you have some evidence of this then by all means share it with us. At this stage, what you are claiming doesn’t pass the ‘sniff test’. Your question about what we are voting on is easily answered and I hope the answer is helpful for you. We are voting on the following: “A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.”

And not everyone who is against the Voice is a conspiracy theorist. That’s lazy, trite, cliched thinking best kept for when you “yes” people gather together to moan and grizzle about the monolithic, absolute evil of your opponents. As you do. It’s the new “urgh, the peasants are so revolting”. As to “the experts”, you’re obviously trying the grift that there’s a sniffy high-minded consensus among the knowledgeable, as opposed to the troglodyte dumb deplorables. It’s so elitist, disrespectful and frankly offensive. But, that’s the kind of society you want.

There’s a lot been said about the Voice from some pretty strong militant “yes” activists about their goals, so it’s certainly not “all experts agree”. But now your side is trying to mop up that “militant wing vs marketing wing” division, partly by denying it, and partly by ad-hom attacks on anyone who notices. All in all, it’s not an impressive performance from “yes”. Reeks of condescion, arrogance and smugness. Given that rubbish attitude, the constant duplicity, and the poor quality of your arguments, it makes me even more sure the “Voice” is a trojan horse.

That’s right not everyone that is opposed to the Voice is a conspiracy theorist but some certainly are and your post about “trojan horses” suggests that you believe in conspiracy theories (without actual evidence).

Please educate yourself on what the voice is about.
We could all imagine something is likely, when talking about the future. Without evidence it is best though to keep those thoughts to ourselves…

Unless, of course, the speculation about the future supports your own views: then it’s ok. I’ll be moderated if I mention what I think of that logic.

Lefty Boomer5:05 pm 30 Aug 23

How mean spirited would you be to vote no? I’m voting yes!

I agree with you Lefty Boomer. I expect more angst, paranoia
and xenophobia from the racist right in the month to come. I am not looking forward to it!
Just witness comment from Futureproof below!!

In view of the horrendous slurs that have been cast at Warren Mundine and Jacinta Price by leading proponents of the Yes campaign I think racism from the left is a far bigger problem!

Ah yes play the racist card, maybe something for yourself

The best advice I have read is to make sure you have a pen and not a pencil to write NO

Not The Mama3:02 pm 30 Aug 23

I would bet my house that those proposing to vote NO on the basis that The Voice doesn’t go far enough also think that “From Little Things Big Things Grow” is a really cool song… :-S

Not The Mama2:59 pm 30 Aug 23

Agree. And what about Penny Wong walking alongside Julie Bishop at the ANU yesterday?

I suppose that when this gets roundly defeated some people will be banging in about what a racist nation we are.

If Albo had any nous he would read the mood & call the whole thing off.

Sadly this reminds me of the 1975 election.

Max_Rockatansky2:12 pm 30 Aug 23

Vote No, we are all equal in the eyes of God, and in the eyes of the Constitution.

If that is true, Max, then why is the average life span of Indigenous people shorter than that of white people. That doesn’t sound very equal to me.

Margaret Freemantle4:35 pm 30 Aug 23

Yes we are -that is why we need to vote YES. Nothing equal about the deaths in custody and no one held accountable, the shorter life expectancy, the shocking housing conditions. Time for a First Nations voice to address these issues

Margaret Freemantle, there all multiple organizations already providing ‘a voice’ for the indigenous people of Australia, one of them happens to be in The Prime Ministers own department. Pointless having a voice if no one is listening!

@Max_Rockatansky
“… we are all equal in … the eyes of the Constitution” – but some are more equal than others.
You obviously haven’t read Sections 25 and 51 (xxvi) of the Australian Constitution?
Section 25 is headed “Provision as to races disqualified from voting”.
Section 51(xxvi) confers on Parliament the power to make laws with respect to ‘the people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws’.

Max_Rockatansky8:05 am 31 Aug 23

The Constitution sees everyone as equal, differing life outcomes are not caused by the Constitution.
Why do you want to change the Constitution, Astro, when the Constitution is not the Problem?

Max_Rockatansky8:06 am 31 Aug 23

We agree in equality Margaret, so why make some people more equal than others in the Constitution?

Max_Rockatansky9:05 am 31 Aug 23

JustSaying, you quoted section 51 prior to the change made in 1967, the change that made us all equal.

And maybe these people need to help themselves

Because changing the Constitution, Max, to recognise the original inhabitants of this land and conferring an advisory voice to Parliament on matters that affect them, goes some way to redressing the past colonisation which caused generational problems subsequently. One of these problems is the shorter average life spans that Indigenous people have. Surely you would not disagree with implementing a mechanism that may improve outcomes in this and other areas.

And having a Voice to Parliament will allow for that.

Justsaying,
“Section 51(xxvi) confers on Parliament the power to make laws with respect to ‘the people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws’.”

The 1967 referendum removed the mention of the Aboriginal race here, the government has the power to make laws for any race as its currently written.

Although ironically, if people did actually want to make the Constitution less racist, this is one of the sections that should have been removed and was part of the early discussions for change around recognition.

But now instead of making the constitution truly equal, the current proposal aims to divide us further, making the document less equal.

Astro,
I’m also expecting Justsaying to come and admonish you for claiming things around thr Voice that are not included or supported in what we are voting for.

It’s simply an advisory body apparently, any discussion around how it might operate or what it might achieve or do isn’t allowed.

Or maybe that only applies to people saying they will vote no.

astro2 “Surely you would not disagree with implementing a mechanism that may improve outcomes in this and other areas.”

OK.. it “may improve outcomes” In what way exactly?

What is the mechanism by which you expect this to happen and how will it differ to the many consultative bodies that have already been in place for many years now?

Hi chewy14, that’s correct, the Voice will be an advisory body. Discussion around how it might operate or what it might achieve is allowed so what you’ve said there isn’t correct. Who are you saying won’t allow any discussion?

Thanks for the question Bob. The Voice will offer a better and more ensured consultation mechanism. It won’t be a quick fix or a silver bullet though. It also won’t replace bodies that deal with specific issues, for instance, there is a body that deals specifically with early childhood education in indigenous communities. The Voice won’t replace bodies such as these.

Astro,
“The Voice will offer a better and more ensured consultation mechanism.”

Where is the evidence that it will offer a better consultation mechanism? As it isn’t in place, any claims to its effectiveness is speculative at best. People can identify potential areas and risks both good and bad but actual proof is not possible.

As to the ensurance of consultation, there are currently hundreds of consultative groups in this space.

I find it ridiculous that our government and public service are so incompetent that they need constitutional change to effect proper consultation.

But either way, the government doesn’t actually need that constitutional change to enact the Voice by law. The fact that they weren’t willing to trial such a body before going to a referendum is telling. If they are confident around its success, it could have been law months ago.

When policy-makers listen to the people directly impacted by policies they are developing, this local knowledge results in better outcomes. Australians recognise that Indigenous communities face serious and unique challenges. (Refer Closing the Gap for further information). Previously, many Indigenous representative groups have been established and then removed (de-funded) by changing governments and bureaucratic agendas. Putting the Voice in the Constitution protects it from politics, giving it the security, time and independence that is needed to provide robust and effective advice.

“When policy-makers listen to the people directly impacted by policies they are developing, this local knowledge results in better outcomes”

Perhaps, at least partially. Although as above, nothing stopping this from occurring now.

“Previously, many Indigenous representative groups have been established and then removed (de-funded) by changing governments and bureaucratic agendas.”

Yes, some removed for very good reasons, permanency also comes with a risk that the body doesn’t operate effectively and is far more difficult to change, reshape and improve.

“giving it the security, time and independence that is needed to provide robust and effective advice.’

As above, entirely speculative whether it will be effective and also comes with a downside risk created from that independence and permanency.

Firstly, the current arrangements are subject to the whims of different governments. This has led to patchy outcomes. (You can refer to recent Closing the Gap reports for evidence of this.) Secondly, your fear of ‘permanency’ from having a Voice in the Constitution is not a problem as the Voice will be advisory. As to effectiveness, we would never have set up an Australian parliament in the first place if we took that opinion, ie how did we know that having a Parliament independent from the English Government would work? The answer is, that we didn’t but we put in checks and balances and consulted (at the time with the States) to allow for the highest likelihood of effectiveness. The Voice is no different.

Astro,
repeating your speculation doesn’t give it more credence.

“As to effectiveness, we would never have set up an Australian parliament in the first place if we took that opinion, ie how did we know that having a Parliament independent from the English Government would work?”

Ironically you shoot your own argument down here because numerous governments of the same or similar form existed both in Australia and internationally for centuries with a long history of development. It went through years of development from stakeholders across the country involving all parties, not just a subsection of the population. Federation was most definitely a gamble but one that was backed with solid reasoning and logic, that also ironically went through a number of referendums before it become successful. It’s also something that couldn’t already be made law through an existing government to trial as the Voice could be.

Funny that you’ve talked about people being “conspiracy theorists” above for commenting on the potential outcomes of a Voice. Potential outcomes that are the openly stated goals of the activists that have been pushing for the Voice. Yet you’re doing the same thing here without evidence. Perhaps you should apply the same label to yourself.

Hi chewy14, there is no speculation in what I posted. It’s long been known that on-the-ground and representative consultation produces better outcomes in policy. Your second point appears to support having a Voice to Parliament as part of the “long history of development…from stakeholders across the country….The only difference being that Indigenous matters will be consulted with Indigenous people. That’s pretty obvious I would think and seems to work well in other countries so no reason why it wouldn’t here. Finally, when you refer to conspiracy theories, unfortunately there is plenty of evidence of this on social media, including the well-worn “we’ll all lose our backyards” which goes back to Mabo (and was just as silly then as it is now.) It’s likely, however, that the more people know about the Voice to Parliament, the less they’ll believe the more ‘out there” theories.

“white people”. Racially charged. Australia is now fully multicultural. People of northwest European descent, who I’m guessing are your “white people”, comprise 46% of the population (I.e., less than half), whole 26% were born overseas. I notice how progressives continue to frame these issues as “aborigines v white people”,

How good it is to see Gary Humphries and the very lovely Clare Carnell from the Liberal side of politics out there doing their bit and advocating for the YES campaign. Where the heck is Elizabeth Lee, Mark Parton and other Liberal party members advocating for the YES vote?

Where do the Canberra Liberals stand on this important issue?
They have been silent!
Do they care?

They are conspicuous by their absence!

Not The Mama2:58 pm 30 Aug 23

Agree. And what about Penny Wong walking alongside Julie Bishop at the ANU yesterday?

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