4 September 2023

We'll hold a 'recognition' referendum if this one fails, Dutton says

| Chris Johnson
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Peter Dutton on Sky News

Peter Dutton on Sky News over the weekend. The Liberal leader says he would stage another referendum if he becomes PM. Photo: file Screenshot.

Peter Dutton says he will hold a referendum of his own over Indigenous recognition if the Voice referendum fails and he wins government at the next election.

The Opposition Leader doesn’t like the referendum set down for 14 October but says he would send Australians back to the polls in the first term of a Coalition government to gauge sentiment on recognition for First Nations people.

He said recognising Indigenous Australians in the Constitution was Coalition policy, but enshrining a Voice to Parliament was not.

“We went to the last election and a number of elections before that with that as our policy and that will be our policy going into the next election as well,” Mr Dutton told Sky News yesterday (3 September).

“I think it is right and respectful to recognise Indigenous Australians in the constitution and we will work with the Labor Party to find common ground.”

Asked if he would hold a referendum in his first term, the Opposition Leader said he would.

“I believe very strongly it is the right thing to do. But enshrining a Voice in the constitution is divisive,” he said.

However, he’s been criticised by some on his own side of politics for what they say is the absurdity of the proposal.

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The Liberals for Yes campaign said the Coalition had no mandate for a second referendum and that Mr Dutton was ignoring the wishes of First Nations people.

“For politicians to go out and propose something completely alternate to what Indigenous people asked for clearly speaks to our disempowerment as Indigenous people when others think that they have a better solution and a better way forward,” spokesperson Sean Gordon said.

“We put that position forward to the Australian people, which is a very modest position, stating this is how we want to be recognised within the founding document of the country.

“We want a Voice that gives us a greater say in laws, policies and programs that impact us.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also took aim at the proposal, saying Mr Dutton was planning a sequel while trying to sabotage the original.

“For Peter Dutton, it’s all about the politics, never the substance,” Mr Albanese said.

“I’m a big believer in getting it right the first time.”

On the weekend, the Yes campaign announced that John Farnham had given permission for his song ‘You’re the Voice’ to be used in advertising for the referendum. It features in the History is Calling advertisement the Yes campaign is promoting on television and the internet.

It is the first time Farnham has given permission for the song to be used in a commercial.

“This song changed my life,” he said. “I can only hope that now it might help, in some small way, to change the lives of our First Nations peoples for the better.”

But the Opposition Leader said the irony of that song being used is it contains the line “you’re the voice try and understand it”.

“In a sense, it’s the appropriate theme song for the Yes campaign because remember that the key line in the lyrics there is, you know, ‘you’re the voice, try to understand it’,” Dutton said.

“I honestly don’t think most Australians understand it. And they want to be informed.”

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Media have also picked up on comedian Wil Anderson first using the line as part of a routine in April.

Asked by The Project on Sunday evening if he was now writing Mr Dutton’s jokes, Anderson commented on another slogan being used by the Coalition in the referendum campaign (If you don’t know say no), saying that one could come back to haunt Mr Dutton at the next election.

But in the referendum, he said it was an invitation to try and find out.

“If you don’t know, go and find out. I reckon if you do find out, you might actually vote yes,” Anderson said.

“You’ll understand it might be this really powerful thing we go through together.”

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HiddenDragon7:22 pm 05 Sep 23

In the still very unlikely event that Dutton finds himself in the Lodge some time in the next few years, he would always have the option of allowing himself to be persuaded that a second referendum, even if held in conjunction with a federal election, was not such a good idea after all.

Along the way to that hypothetical situation, this commitment might help to win back some wavering voters in the Teal seats, but will probably be a zero sum game (at best) for the October 14 referendum.

Oh please get it away!
That picture reminds me of why I can’t eat potatoes any more!

Don’t get me started on Beetroot!

Smart move, showing people that the upcoming vote was never about recognition of the aboriginal people in the constitution to start with, it was about hiding their actual agenda behind something innocuous as they knew that being honest about their intentions from the start would lead to a crushing defeat.

The current question certainly seems more palatable than: “We are proposing to alter the egalitarian political system with one that provides different levels of political representation based on race, do you agree with this?” …of course they were never going to be honest about their intentions.

Unfortunately for them, people started to actually look into it and ask questions, hence the current 38% approval rating and trailing in every state.

As we think about this more, and winnow it down, we get to the essential points, with greater economy of speech. Such as this from Bob: “We are proposing to alter the egalitarian political system with one that provides different levels of political representation based on race, do you agree with this?”

And of course, consultation and representation can still occur without this constitutional change. What really needs to happen is figure out what’s wrong with totally immersing people in lifelong welfare, break through the progressive-activist grip on the policy narrative, and develop alternative policy models. In partnership with a *range* of indigenous voices, not just activist-approved ones.

Rustygear – The unpalatable fact to some is that there are a number of problems that are not able to be solved. When you have a sizable chunk of the aboriginal people that live in highly geographically dispersed areas with no healthcare, no education, no government services, no jobs, no police etc then you get the same outcomes as when you have people of any other race living in those conditions and that is unemployment, terrible health outcomes, DV, high incarceration rates, drug and alcohol dependency, mental health issues etc.

Given it is entirely impossible to create and staff such services and infrastructure in thousands of sites around this massive country, the only way to fix this is to relocate everyone close to them, good luck suggesting this as an option though. You want a fix? Offer to relocate them all to the cities, provide accommodation and services. Short of that? Good luck.

Until people accept this fact, no amounts of emotionally manipulative language, virtue signalling or meddling in the political system will make any difference and anything else they try will just be tinkering around the edges with minimal change in the outcomes for indigenous people.

This was never a matter of racism, it is a matter of infrastructure and services in remote areas… or lack thereof. This is why the many consultative boards they set up over literally decades have done nothing to help.

Apropos both our comments, Bess Price, mother of Jacinta and real-deal Warlpiri woman, has just had a brilliant piece published at Quadrant. The know-it-all urban activist “yes” crowd have nothing that compares to her lived experience, no matter how much they vilify her.

Vote YES. Allowing someone a voice is a good thing.

They already have one, the same as all Australians. If politicians don’t listen to them now, how will making yet another representative body that parliament will continue to ignore help, other than consume a lot of money and resources better invested in actually improving indigenous services and support?

John Anderson (ex Deputy PM) has made another 5 minute YouTube video on the referendum.
“In this third episode, John outlines his position to recognise a better way for indigenous Australians.”

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