Voice analysis

This post is rather long. If you want a point form summary, scroll down to the bottom. Secondly, this post does not represent the views of anyone else but me.

As part of his pre-election platform, the now PM promised to get an aboriginal Voice into the constitution during this parliament.

Since Albo basically controls both houses on this issue, we will almost certainly be asked to vote on his recently proposed proposed wording (emphasis added):

There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to Parliament and the Executive government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

The parliament shall, subject to this constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the aboriginal and Torres Straight islander voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.

It is worth noting here that the word “recognition” does not appear anywhere in these 73 words. Nor does it mention “first peoples” or “dispossession”. There is zero symbology here. It is all functional.

A successful referendum will put those words into the Constitution, these being the “standing orders” of the nation. Importantly, the composition, functions, structure, governance not to mention eligibility to stand, eligibility to vote, as well as the voting system (i.e. “procedures”) is not specified and will be the subject of separate legislation. The third stanza makes it clearer that parliament will be in control.

No legislation authorised under the third stanza has been formally drafted. This being the case, unless you are ideologically committed to the Voice as a matter of pure principle, an informed vote requires some details on the likely implementation plan. This is Dutton’s constant refrain on “more details”. However, some significant work has indeed been done on the details by Tom Calma and Marcia Langton. This proposes

  • two members from each state and territory, which means 14 members. I note that this entrenches the over-representation of the smaller states, just like the senate, which a former Prime Minister famously called “unrepresentative swill”.
  • a further five members representing remote areas due to their unique needs – one member each from the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales. So more senate-like bias towards remote minorities compared to those who choose to live in Redfern. And I should note that, if this report is correct, there are no remote areas deemed to exist in Victoria.
  • One additional member representing Torres Strait Islanders living on the mainland. I really have to wonder why those on the Tiwi islands do not get a special guernsey.

This model of 20 members is not obviously bad, but it is not obviously good either and it was created by two highly paid careerist darlings of the progressive left, Marcia Langton and Tom Calma. This is where the political action will be – the actual legislation. It’s all in the details.

Members would serve four-year terms, with half the membership determined every two years. There would be a limit of two consecutive terms per member. If only we could impose the same limits on the national parliament! Lifetime politicians like Albo and Abbott would be as dead as the Albatross. (OK, they’re not extinct but I wanted the alliteration!).

I can imagine many other models. In particular, the aboriginal “nations” are not represented at all which seems at odds with the general “right side of history” argument for this body. However, this could mean 500 or 1000 members, which is perhaps why it was not considered.

Importantly, the electorate will have no input into the implementation details. It will be legislated before the election as part of Albo’s promise and only after a successful referendum. It will just be passed by parliament with Green and Teal support . The political backdrop will be the unenlightening, unedifying, superficial, emotional, partisan commentary from the usual media institutions and suspects.

Critical elements remain not only unspecified (as Dutton constantly complains) but also not discussed in the main stream media at all. Such as:

  • Who is eligible to vote? Who is eligible to stand?
  • Will they be paid? How much?
  • Will the voting system be first past the post, preferential, proportional representation or something else?
  • What will be the barrier to standing? Could there be 500 candidates in some regions?
  • Will “establishment” candidates have funding from the Electoral Commission, as is the case for general franchise elections?

Surely, it would be better to have more functional details established before the referendum. There is really no reason why the ALP could not have a draft of the bill already circulating. Indeed, my position has always been that we should have legislation first with a possible referendum in Albo’s next parliament.

What are the upsides of the Voice?

The main one that progressives are running with is symbolic recognition. Clearly this is a weak argument since we abandoned the original plan for a preamble stating that aborigines were here first.  In 2017, Pat Dodson and Mark Liebler’s plan was suddenly changed to something completely different at Uluru. Symbolism was explicitly rejected by the Uluru committee. Yet the apology was symbolic. Was that a bad idea?

Amazingly, there is no recognition or preamble as part of the Uluru proposal. This could have been bundled in with the Voice and would have made it harder to oppose. You really have to wonder who is running this process. How could the recognition preamble ever have been abandoned?

Another stronger argument in favour is direct representation with a view to better decisions, better programs, better outcomes and better use of government resources. This is actually more a claim than an argument. If it were definitely true, it would be an unassailable argument.

However, government departments are consulting community organisations already. What about the National Indigenous Australians Agency, whose role seems to be to coordinate with and advise the Commonwealth? The key distinction between this agency and the Voice is that the indigenous agency advisors are employed, not elected. So, if you believe the Voice will be much more effective than this agency then you believe that directly elected representatives are more effective in connecting government and communities than full time (indigenous) public servants. You might turn out to be right. But it would be a hard sell to the electorate if expressed this way.

An attractive outcome would be that we get some diverse aboriginal opinions – not just the regular aboriginal firebrands. Under the Langton/Calma model there will be two representatives per state. Political dynamics being what they are, there will likely be a “left” and “right” candidate; for instance Anthony Dillon versus Gary Foley. You can probably guess who I would vote for but, alas, I will not be eligible to vote.

A diverse Voice (remember when diverse actually meant diverse?) that includes the less radical should lead to a deeper discussion rather than the uniformity we endure from the usual suspects dominating public discourse via Q&A, the Drum and the Guardian.

On the other hand, diversity means conflict. If the Voice is evenly distributed between left and right, it will be hard for them to provide unequivocal advice to government. Which is just politics as usual. One possible outcome would be that there is an ALP and a Coalition aboriginal candidate in each state. Political dynamics being what they are, we could easily iterate towards this.

If you vote for the Voice are you voting for this? Or are you voting for a combination of long overdue recognition and a more effective and representative indigenous input into government decision making? You just don’t know.

What are the main downsides of passing the Voice into the constitution?

Future jurists may read implied rights into the new words that will be inserted into the founding document, especially taking into account the political discussion of the times which they are entitled to do, in intuiting our overall intent. The phrase “may make representations to” could potentially be interpreted to mean that the Government must give high weight to these representations. Presumably they could not formally ignore them. What about state funding to support these representations? Future high courts will decide.

Some constitutional lawyers have also raised concerns about the addition of the words “Executive Government”. This has mainly been added through the influence of the 272 page Co-Design Report of Marcia Langton. I understand that it means the public service. So the Voice could make representations to senior public servants and committees, as well as parliament. The question is whether they would be entitled to make such representations to every arm and level of the executive government and potentially hold up the workings of government. Real time appeals to the courts (including the High court) would delay rather than facilitate decisions.

The term “matters relating” is not defined and could become a point of contention and disagreement. The government of the day may not appreciate being lectured on debt levels, foreign policy, changes to superannuation etc. though aborigines are affected by this as much as anyone else.

It was recently put to Marcia Langton:

If a government decision is made without listening to the Voice it could be challenged in the High Court and potentially stopped from being implemented until the Voice had been heard.

She replied: “that is a possibility and why would we not want that to be the case?”

But overall, the wording is anodyne enough that it is unlikely to lead to major substantial change apart from its face value intention. And the third stanza provides some protection from judicial activism.

Perhaps the Voice will become an evenly balanced partisan body dominated by existing political tribes, and therefore become less effective than a truly community based representative body could be. But that will be a lost opportunity, not a disaster.

It is claimed by Greg Sheridan that the Voice, once it is operating, will lead to constant racial discord. I think this depends on the make-up of the Voice and, in any case, I do not think that media and activists need the Voice to stir up racial discord. They are doing just fine currently.

He also argues that the Voice is only the first step on the road to co-government. This is a slippery slope argument. Slippery slope arguments are not wrong in principle. But they are easy to make and do not allow for common sense.

I encountered the slippery slope argument on gay marriage. “If you vote for it then the next step will be trans-activist nonsense”. Well they were right about trans-nonsense being the step. But we can all resist trans nonsense where it actually appears. I am a living example that you can vote for gay marriage without automatically supporting female impersonators in prisons. Similarly, one can vote for the Voice and resist calls for co-government when they are made. And since aborigines are a tiny minority, they will never be able to impose anything on the rest of us.

The effect of this referendum on politics.

Quite apart from the substance, the way this change is being presented is often emotive and evangelical. If you are against it, then you are racist. Peter Dutton is against it and he did not attend the apology so you have to support it to perform your disapproval of Dutton. If we are going to base constitutional change on how likeable our current politicians are then we are lost.

This should be the most purely intellectual decision that we can muster. But no. Not in 2023.

It is a “moment in history” that we have to be on the “right side of”. This makes constitutional change a social media contagion. And make no mistake that a large proportion of young voters will entirely base their decision on Tiktok and Instagram influence. The effects of this debasement of democracy will be far reaching and long term. Future changes to the constitution will no longer begin with an appropriate onus of proof. It will mainly be “the vibe” and the attractiveness index of the influencer who brings the referendum to your attention.

Finally, the government is not going to fund both the yes and no cases. This has been required with previous referenda where approved (and to some extent fact checked) brochures were sent out to each household. The argument of the government is that such a process is archaic. The consequence is that voters will get their information from their own sources. You can see how well that works out in some cases. #foxnews

Why a referendum at all?

The people who railed against the gay marriage plebiscite as unnecessary are the same folks who say we must have a referendum for the Voice. A referendum for gay marriage was considered a denial of human rights. Anything else but a referendum on the Voice is similarly considered a moral failure.

I was on the fence on the issue of statute versus referendum on gay marriage. The plebiscite was a reasonable compromise. We decided in favour of gay marriage not because we “must” according to human rights zealots, but because we wanted to. And there is nothing in that decision that can be extended or modified by a future High court.

A change to the constitution is binding. There has never been a reversal of a constitutional change. So, the Voice will be permanent. Legislative mistakes on the other hard are easily reversed.

The argument for constitutional change has not been made in any but emotive terms. It is variously about locking the change in so it cannot be reversed by future Tony Abbots, it is about recognition of aboriginals and it is about not rejecting the “generous offer” of aboriginal people expressed in the Uluru statement.

It is a fact that changing the constitution in this way prevents our children and grandchildren from abolishing the Voice at some point if it proves to be dysfunctional, as ATSIC proved to be. This is true of any constitutional change – it commits future generations to certain principles – so it is always worth treading carefully.

But this is a weak argument against the Voice it seems to me. Since the Voice is to be implemented by statute, the government of the day could change the Voice in any way they deemed fit, in any way they thought would cure its perceived ills, short of abolishing it entirely.

Now a reasonable person might ask why the Prime Minister does not create the body right now. Indeed Victoria and SA have already legislated a kind of Voice. There is nothing stopping him legally and he controls both houses (at least on this issue). I think the reason is obvious. If he did, then people would rightly ask why we need to change the constitution. His answer could only be … it’s Mabo, it’s the constitution, it’s the vibe. Simply put, if he legislates the Voice which he says is so important right now, then the referendum is sunk.

So, what is his justification for denying aborigines a voice to parliament over the first 12-18 months of his government? Has he been asked this question by any journalist? He has not. Will he be? I really do hope so.

Let me finish this section by answer the question “Why a referendum”. Why has it been put to us?

It is the basest politics from Albo.

This was the very first thing he promised in his victory speech. It is a classic wedge. He knew he would force Dutton to oppose it, because the Coalition are divided on culture war issues. This means that Albo and the ALP get all the glory if it passes and no blame if it fails. He is willing to play with the constitution but, more importantly, drag the entire nation into an unnecessary racial argument, just for political advantage. A preamble of recognition, followed by a legislated Voice, would have served all constituents better. But there was little advantage in it.

How much more evidence do we need of the psychopathy of politicians? There aren’t too many decent ones I can name. Perhaps Gough, McCain and Obama.

The options

I also reject the legitimacy of a binary choice. We will choose between

  • Option 1: Insert the Voice into the constitution
  • Option 2: Do not do this, which means do nothing.

Whatever happened to …

  • Option 3: Include acknowledgment of aboriginal pre-occupation in the constitution and leave the possibility of an aboriginal advisory body to parliament (which Option 2 does anyway).

This was the original intention of constitutional recognition and was widely discussed for over a decade until the Uluru folks decided to take a completely different approach. I was blind-sided by this at the time, as was Malcolm Turnbull. It bore no relation to what we hadbeen agonising about for the previous 10 years.

I suspect that if Australians were offered three options, they would choose option 3. Yes, I know that this was rejected as part of the 1999 republic referendum bundle but polls suggest that if it has been offered separately it would have easily passed. Sentiment is even more positive now.

How will I vote?

I will probably swallow my shit sandwich and vote yes.

Why? It is the only form of “recognition” that we are being offered. While I resent Albo’s cynical motives in forcing this issue, I do not want to slap indigenes in the face with a rejection and I cannot see that it will likely do much harm. This was pretty much my rationale for voting for gay marriage as well, even though I bristled against the sanctimonious bullying of the yes campaign.

So I will resist my usually contrarian nature and take a pragmatic view: it probably won’t do much harm, even though we never needed a referendum to do it. Some professional aboriginal activists may be able to make a career in Canberra and the High court will have some extra dockets to process. We will all get to know the “leaders” of the Voice – and be in no doubt that there will many self-appointed leaders that will be on the telly every night.

It might do some good even. We might find that grass roots activists will have more access to and influence on the pinnacles of power and we could see some better outcomes.

But I think the whole political process has debased our democracy. And I will not be surprised if the next six months does even more damage to how we look at the rules that support our freedoms and how they are changed.

Summary

Reasons to vote for or against the Voice, in each case listed in the order of how salient I judge these reasons are in the minds of proponents. My personal view of the strongest points would be Yes 2, 3 and No 6, 7.

Reason to vote Yes.

  1. To recognise Aborigines in the constitution.
  2. To give marginalised Aborigines more say in decisions that affect them.
  3. To get better outcomes by connecting government decisions to communities
  4. A no vote will be a national vote of contempt for Aborigines
  5. To begin a longer journey towards negotiating treaties.
  6. Dutton is a bastard.

Reason to vote No.

  1. To not give special rights to any racial or ethnic group
  2. It will lead to constant racial division and conflict
  3. It will be another expensive ineffective political institution
  4. It will involve High Court challenges.
  5. It will slow down government decisions.
  6. It is unnecessary as Aborigines already have input into government policy and decisions.
  7. The process of this referendum is so debased that it deserves to lose.
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Nicholas Gruen
Admin
10 months ago

Thanks for this Chris
A very considered exploration of the issues. I feel similarly, in many respects, though one place where we’re very much at odds is the demonisation of the existing actors. Albo is playing politics because that’s his job. If he didn’t he’d be replaced by someone who would. For me, a good politician plays by the rules (set mainly by the media) and they try to get some good stuff done.
Likewise, you think it’s wicked of Albo and the pro-Voice campaigners not to offer more detail. But remember that’s how Howard derailed the republican referendum. In principle, I agree with Howard. If you want to replace something in our constitution, agree on what it is and then have a vote. This was what the folks voting on Brexit discovered.
But doing that splits the “change” vote. So if you’re for the Voice, you don’t want to provide lots of detail. Detail is anathema to doing well in our democratic system. Detail was how the ALP lost to #ScoMo in 2019. The correct response to the question “how will you raise the money?” was “We’ll end waste and extravagance and look over there!”. Instead, they said “franking credits” and grandfathered the abolition of some non-corporate negative gearing. That was an honest answer (though its motives were tactical not ethical. They feared they couldn’t get away with Tony Abbott’s answer to how he’d meet our greenhouse targets without a carbon tax [As you’ll recall his answer was “look over there”.])
You speak of “the uniformity we endure from the usual suspects dominating public discourse via Q&A, the Drum and the Guardian”. Hmm, we do have the whole Murdoch press, which includes all the important tabloids, the Australian and Sky. The pity of it is — I think you’d agree with me — that ALL these vehicles propagate “all the news that’s legible to print”. That is they cover the issues from a reductive and ideological point of view. The rest of the detail is not entertaining.
Also, you have assumed throughout your post that the mechanism for choosing representatives in The Voice is election. Albo has done the same. At least the Calma-Langton report is clear that this is just one possible model. It says

While Core Model 2 received some support during the consultation process,27 many concerns were shared by a considerable majority around the possible limitations and disadvantages of direct elections, which were perceived to threaten the legitimacy of the National Voice if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a jurisdiction do not prefer elections over the other processes covered by Core Model 1.

Nevertheless, Core Model 1 seems to piggyback off existing representation, which I presume is heavily based on competitive elections as opposed to non-competitive mechanisms I’d strongly prefer like selection by lot and hybrid systems in which ‘electors’ would be selected by lot but their job would then be to elect the best representatives. This can be made much more immune to corruption of both hard and soft varieties (like bullying).
Further, the whole document seems largely to presuppose something like elections and an adversarial model of politics. Representatives will be ‘accountable’ to their community. Sortition-based bodies are not ‘accountable’ in this sense. They are presumed to do the community’s bidding because they’re just like the community, not because the community is holding them accountable. Further, if some representatives from one state or area or interest are chosen by election, they will be chosen to advance certain voters’ interests. This means if you’re in another area or interest group your incentives to be represented by people just like you might be changed. If others are geared up to compete for power, that intensifies the incentives for you to compete for power yourself, lest others interests dominate yours.

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
10 months ago
Reply to  Nicholas Gruen

All good points.
You are more sympathetic to pollies that I am. I could never be a polly. Most people couldn’t. You describe what’s required in your third paragraph. That’s why they have psychopathic tendencies.
I am still not clear what the argument was against a modest preamble and removing the race power. It would have gotten 90% support. So my working hypothesis is that Albo saw more advantage in the Voice for the reasons I mentioned. Of course, my claims about his motivations are speculative. Perhaps he really does deeply believe that the Voice is important rather than simple recognition.
The media are awful, on just about everything. I mention Q&A and the Drum because I tend to watch the ABC (through gritted teeth). I do not watch sky news and do not consider them the MSM. I might be wrong but I thought their viewership is very low. I certainly don’t read the Murdoch tabloids, only the Australian about once per week. To my mind, the Australian does not run an anti-Voice agenda as strong as the Age’s pro-Voice (though their opinion pieces are mainly against).
But as I suggested, a significant proportion of the electorate will have their attitudes shaped by Tiktok. So my Boomer analysis is probably naïve and out of date.
I did think of Gruen’s sortition when I was listing the features of the Core model. But it seems to me that being a member of the Voice would be a huge and complex commitment. You would need a lot of ground knowledge, political networks and understanding of the workings of government. Your hybrid systems might be better. I have not thought about it. 

johnrwalker
johnrwalker
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Lloyd

Curious just how many people use tiktok or twitter?

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
10 months ago
Reply to  johnrwalker

About 8.3 million Australians according to Google. How engaged they are I am not sure. Then there is Instagram. Both these platforms are notorious for shallow influencers gaining huge audiences.

johnrwalker
johnrwalker
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Lloyd

Thanks I have a Instagram account but have never really understood it , or why I bother . Same time the feed I get is mostly people I’ve chosen or pretty anodyne stuff : ABC Canberra and cats sort of stuff.

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
10 months ago
Reply to  johnrwalker
Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
10 months ago
Reply to  Nicholas Gruen

Just to add to a point I made about the cynical nature of Albo’s Voice move: if he had just proposed a preamble then he would have had the strong support of Abbott and Howard, both of whom wanted this in the constitution. They were already on record and had spent some political capital trying to make it happen. Imagine Albo, Howard and Abbott on an advert enjoining the nation to vote yes for recognition in the preamble.
But bi-partisan agreement is not a good strategy for the ALP at the moment, because the conservatives are weak and divided.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
10 months ago

Btw, I feel like the guy in the Spanish Inquisition sketch, but there is no “Yes, no. 7”

Jeremy Gans
Jeremy Gans
10 months ago

The word ‘recognition’ will be in the Constitution twice if the referendum succeeds. In the title to the new chapter IX (‘Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Peoples’ and in the opening words to the new section 129 (‘In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:’). See the Constitutional Alteration bill, here: https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/legislation/bills/r7019_first-reps/toc_pdf/23048b01.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
10 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Gans

Thanks a lot for that correction Jeremy. Amazing that the media (perhaps the government) do not add that sentence into their publicity.

David Walker
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Lloyd

Recognition was front and centre in TV ads I saw this week – perhaps a new strategy.
Really good piece, by the way, staking out a position you don’t see in the media much. I’m with Nick here, pretty close to your view: give it a burl and hope for the best.

Last edited 10 months ago by David Walker
Not Trampis
10 months ago

no detail yet. It could have something to with the referendum passing or not. No point in passing legislation if the referendum is not passed!! Moreover the legislation can be amended, gotten rid of, completely changed by future governments. This does challenge your argument here.
As for high court challenges they are expensive. My reading of what Langton has said is the government not listening is the same as not even taking the opinion into account. That is they have rejected the recommendations without much idea of what they are. This is completely different to rejecting any recommendations and giving reasons why they are doing so.
Any change will lead to constitutional challenge the question is the seriousness of the challenge. This you really have not answered or really thought of.

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
10 months ago
Reply to  Not Trampis

I largely agree with your first two points. But Langton could at least have answered in the way that you have! It realyl sounds as if she is looking forward to testing the wording of the referendum.
As to the last point, I think I have thought about High court challenges but did not want to make the post even longer than it was by listing the largely speculative possibilities. And, in the end, I did not give huge weight to this argument against. Certainly though, this particular change will be legally contestible, unlike say the referendum that limited judges to the age of 70 or the one giving aborigines the vote.

Antonios Sarhanis
Admin
10 months ago

I’ll be voting no and I’ll be voting no because I think the Voice will make things worse for Indigenous people.
I feel like this Voice process will further entrench into political power those Indigenous leaders who have already failed. It feels to me like we are just doubling down on already failed strategies and gestures and conventional wisdom.
Indigenous people are a special people in Australia. They should be honoured as such. But they are not sacrosanct, especially not their leaders.
If we want things to change, if we want the opposite of what Closing the Gap “achieved”, then let’s not follow the same strategies.

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
10 months ago

Sounds like the beginning of what could be an interesting post, Antonius!

Ingolf Eide
10 months ago

A really useful post, Chris, thanks.
I also plan to vote yes, full of reservations, but for now at least unable to imagine voting no. No 4 is the decider for me.
Even if it succeeds, perhaps especially if it does, my guess is things may get quite messy, and possibly for quite a while. I don’t see how the next stage, the Makarrata Commission, assuming it goes ahead, can avoid being very divisive. While I think a period of “truth telling” could be truly valuable, any attempt at treaty making fills me with trepidation. Still, given my woeful ignorance on so much to do with indigenous matters, I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this.
Like you, I find Nicholas’ hybrid approach very appealing.

Not Trampis
10 months ago

Like the late Yogi Berra I am getting deja vu all over again.
Back in the republican ‘debate’ we had elites like Flint complaining about elites forcing something on people without acknowledging they were doing the very same thing.( I remember the very same Flint saying the G/G was our head of state but could not answer why parliament was bad ar nominating a President but only a PM nominates a G/G.)
This time we have aboriginal elites such as Price or Mundine complaining about other elites like Langton or Pearson.
We also has ‘republicans saying we should vote no this time because we could have another referendum quite soon to have the ‘right’ question and what would you know I am hearing the same thing about the voice.
Maybe I should take this to the high court

conrad
conrad
10 months ago

I’ll be voting no because:
(1) racial policies in the constitution do not always lead to the expected outcomes (e.g., Maori electorates in NZ, Malaysia in general) [One reason for Point 1 of Chris’s reasons list to vote no]
(2) The money would be better off spent on things that do lead to tangible benefits whether they are cultural (e.g., Aboriginal language) or practical (e.g., medical scholarships for Aboriginal people willing to work in areas that they are needed).
(3) Unlike Antonio, I don’t want things to change because they are already successfully going forward with largely bipartisan support over the decades despite the constant arguing (John Howard excluded). This includes reduction in poverty, life expectancies and health — Aboriginal people, possibly the poorest group in Australia, now have life expectancies similar to low SES US whites and better than most other comparable indigenous groups in the world apart from the Maori. So despite the constant negative framing, this is a successful attempt at helping a group in endemic poverty. It also includes people’s mindsets and hence social change where the negative stereotypes have been diminishing. Presumably, if we did nothing from here on in, it will do so further as the older generations that tend to have more negative beliefs die off.

HarryClarke
HarryClarke
10 months ago

I’ll vote no and have urged others to do so. The racism in the proposal is unacceptable and there is abundant (perhaps excessive) and expensive indigenous representation already. Albo needs to be condemned for advancing this proposal via a referendum – the ATSIC experience makes it clear that we should reserve the ability to abolish any representative body. Moreover, whatever the referendum outcome the proposal is divisive. If the “no” vote wins the woke warriors will seek to damage Australia in international fora and continue to propound the myth that Australia is an unsuccessful multiracial society. If the yes vote wins they will go to the High Court to extract extra rents from the Federal Parliament (it’s the reason they refuse to modify the proposal to exclude this possibility) and again will ridicule Australia in international fora.

Legislating a proposal for a Voice is unobjectionable except for the promulgation of extra indigenous bureaucracy. The billions already being expended on indigenous bureaucracy would be better spent on the health and educational disadvantages experienced among all disadvantaged Australians.

A clear case for the Voice has not been advanced by Labor. What we have got is emotionalism and polliebabble. Indeed, the emotionalism has been portrayed as an advantage – we are “opening our hearts” etc. This is unacceptable when we are dealing with a major change to our Constitution that duplicates existing representations and bureaucracy and which entrenches racism in the Australian Constitution.

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
10 months ago
Reply to  HarryClarke

Thanks Harry. Glad to ahve tempted you back to Troppo!
“Legislating a proposal for a Voice is unobjectionable …” Well, it seems to me that if the referendum proposal involves racism as you probably rightly claim, so would a statute that does the same thing. I don’t see much of a difference between constitution and statute in this regard.
And there are already plenty of government services that are only available to indigenes (and women). So there is precedent for racist (and sexist) affirmative action in our current structures.
I consider your strongest arguments (a) that there is no clear case being advanced and (b) the emotionalism of the campaign. These are roughly my points No: 6&7. Indeed, my strongest motivation to vote No is 7. I would really like to see Albo punished for his cynical, politicking. It is almost on a par with Abbott refusing Julia’s clever Malaysia deal because they were not party to the 51 convention. He wanted the boats to continue! Albo wants the discord to continue, for the same reason. His party wins from the discord.
I know Nick won’t like it but politicians are (specifically selected to be) complete arseholes!

conrad
conrad
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Lloyd

A referendum and a statute may well look like the same thing, but the latter is easy to get rid in case it has adverse consequences or becomes anachronistic, unlike the former. This is the problem with Maori electorates in NZ — no major group wants them but they still exist.

Not Trampis
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Lloyd

Harry is being somewhat emotional. We learn from Chris that Langton and her ally are careerist. no evidence is given.
Now we have Harry saying the voice is simply going to be another ASTIC. huh Where does that come from. you do know the voice can only make recommendations?
Then we have the billions spent on indigenous bureaucracy. firstly the bureaucracy is mostly white and I think that is the point of the voice. give Indigenous people some input in making policy.
Then we have ‘woke’ warriors and ‘They’ will go to the high court.. That is something straight out of the old Catallaxy. Use emotional generalities’ but never specifics
I should add Harry has said there is racism in the proposal without actually saying what it actually is!
Are you no longer writing on your blog?

HarryClarke
HarryClarke
10 months ago
Reply to  Not Trampis

Homer, you are consistently confused and that is at least a recognisable trait. I don’t anywhere say the Voice will be another ATSIC. My point was that an advantage of ATSIC was that at least you could abolish it when it was known to be corrupt and disfunctional. That was because it was legislated not having its role defined in the constitution. If you don’t like the current indigenous bureaucracy then change it. No problem.

More substantively the woke warriors have refused to rule out appeals to the High Court because they will threaten such appeals if they don’t get their rent-seeking ways. That’s specific: They have refused to change the Voice proposal to prevent this.

The racism in the Voice proposal is that it’s specific representations are racially based.

I haven’t run a blog for 8 years.

Not Trampis
10 months ago
Reply to  HarryClarke

Harry you are the confused one. The government does not have to accept anything from the voice. this would be very easy if there is corrupt activity involved.
Ah the woke warriors who are unnamed. anyone can appeal to the high court on any matter. That does not mean the high court will hear their ‘case’ or even if they do they rule in their favour.Unlikely unless there are KCs or SCs out there who are equally allegedly woke and do not want to be paid for the case.
if you are going to help aboriginal people then in your words it will always be racist. Very confusing logic if I may say so

johnrwalker
johnrwalker
10 months ago

Question Re the selection of the membership of the voice how will ‘ who’ is eligible to either be on the voice or simply have a say on its makeup be decided?

Antonios Sarhanis
Admin
10 months ago
Reply to  johnrwalker

That’s a massive can of worms, whatever is decided.
I’ve also had the thought that it’s possible that the majority of whoever is considered Indigenous might end up voting No to the Voice. Granted, it’s probably unlikely, but it’s certainly possible.
It’d be a funnily ironic outcome if the Voice is instituted because of the non-Indigenous vote against the wishes of the majority of Indigenous people.

johnrwalker
johnrwalker
10 months ago

Can the makeup of the voice itself be representative?