‘No’ campaign spoiling to muffle the Voice

‘No’ campaign spoiling to muffle the Voice

The Prime Minister’s commitment to fully implement the Uluru Declaration from the heart is in grave danger of being derailed by the shorthand title, ‘The Voice’ we keep hearing about.

Supporters of a ‘Yes’ vote within government and the wider community fear that the label is easily misrepresented and open to misunderstanding.

Their fears are compounded by the early attacks on it by opponents of the proposal: Northern Territory CLP Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and her mentor Nyunggai Warren Mundine.

Warren Mundine says indigenous people should be recognized in the constitution along with other groups. Photo: AAP

Key right-wing organizations such as Advance Australia, the Conservative Political Action Conference, the Center for Independent Studies and the Institute of Public Affairs are backing Mr Mundine’s campaign with his ‘Recognise a better way’ slogan.

The slogan is a concession to the atmosphere that so far drives majority opinion in the polls that recognizing the unique position of First Nations people is a fair thing to do.

Recognition is long overdue

The Voice is just one element of the declaration hammered out at Uluru in 2017 after nationwide consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities about how they should be given the respect and recognition they were denied when Britain seized their land .

The ‘Yes’ campaign, which begins in earnest at the end of February, must spell this out more clearly and show how the Vote is fit for purpose.

From the five years of consultation and discussion, it has become very clear to indigenous leaders that a mere form of symbolic nice words in the Constitution, which has now been proposed by Mr Mundine and his allies, will not do.

Words alone would not right the injustice of a bloody dispossession that concerned an overwhelming majority of delegates at Uluru.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney addresses an Uluru Declaration From The Heart summit in Sydney in June. Photo: AAP

Instead, they decided to “seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country”.

The recognition of their founding place in the history of this continent must be enshrined in an advisory voice that governments cannot abolish, but they can by Act of Parliament determine its shape and form.

This is a guaranteed safeguard against a future government dismantling the Vote as the Howard government did rather than reforming ATSIC – the old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

The Voice would then play a key role in “making an agreement between governments and First Nations and telling the truth about our history”.

This is the “Voice, Treaty, Truth” essence of the Uluru Declaration which lays out a path to “walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”.

Committed Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe is calling for a treaty rather than the Vote. Photo: AAP

Mr Albanese says he is fully committed to it and the Greens party room is expected to endorse it later this week, despite one of his senators, DjabWurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman Lidia Thorpe, dissenting.

It is sad, if not reprehensible, that a Yuin, Bundjalung and Gumbaynggirr man like Mr. Mundine seeks to undermine this generous offer of reconciliation, without respecting the distinctiveness of his own people by equating them with waves of migrants arriving from Europe and elsewhere. since 1788.

It is the ‘No’ campaign that is sowing confusion and divisiveness by calling for a recognition of migrants as well.

This is surely disingenuous – what constitutional injustice has been done to migrants in the history of the Australian nation that needs to be redressed in this way?


Proven tactic

Mr Mundine’s ploy to hold up the prospect of another referendum was successfully used by the ‘No’ campaigning monarchists to divide republicans in the 1999 referendum.

Its purpose this time can only be to mask the intent of continued discrimination against the oldest inhabitants of this continent.

The Prime Minister says the proposal is a generous, modest and gracious offer from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that if it is not accepted now, when will it ever be?

At Monday’s launch of his $300 million plan for the arts and culture sectors, Mr. Albanian priority given to a “First Nations First” fund to broaden the ability of producers, filmmakers and artists to continue the songs that mapped the landscape of this continent. through the great extent of time”.

Prominent Indigenous actor and producer Rachael Maza said it was “profoundly ground-breaking”.

The Prime Minister has much more work to do to achieve a similar response to the referendum later in the year.

Paul Bongiorno AM is a veteran of the Canberra Press Gallery, with over 40 years experience in Australian politics

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