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Byron Shire
June 20, 2024

Civility, restitution and respect: The case for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament

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On Thursday March 23, 2023, Australian Labor Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, flanked by members of the First Nations referendum working group, laid out the proposed wording of the question on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament that will be taken to referendum in late 2023.

Anthony Albanese became emotional as he announced the referendum for the Indigenous Voice to parliament. Photo ABC News, Mark Moore

The Prime Minister became emotional during various stages of his address, a situation that drew derision from media-appointed Indigenous ‘leader’, Warren Mundine, who claimed the prime minister was spouting ‘crocodile tears’ over the Voice.

Mundine later retreated from his comments, telling 2GB host Ben Fordham that he would apologise to the prime minister when he next met him. Mundine’s retreat was no doubt prompted by Fordham’s own comments when he said; ‘I don’t think that they were crocodile tears, I think they were genuine tears, and I think the tears came from the fact that we have this terrible situation with Indigenous Australians who are still so far behind.’

Mundine’s comments, as puerile as they are, and those of some of his acolytes at the federal level of politics, stand in stark contrast with the civility and respect that was shown by both the outgoing NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet, and the newly elected Premier, Chris Minns, leading up to, and during, the recent NSW election.

Peter Dutton.

Contrast this with the Leader of the Federal Opposition, Peter Dutton, and his politics of division. He has now, predictably, decided to oppose a Voice to Parliament.

One of the opposition’s reasons for opposing the Voice is that it would create a ‘Canberra bubble’ and leave local and regional voices muted.

Obviously, Dutton hasn’t read the Calma-Langton Report, because the recommended structure provides for such input.

Dutton has a history of opposing anything that even remotely resembles fairness and civility.

Like a schoolyard bully, he walked out on the Apology and now opposes the Voice, and if he is the best that the Liberal party can offer as an alternative PM, Australian democracy is truly in trouble.

Irrespective of what the politicians have said it will be Australian voters, the people, who will decide the fate of the Voice.

The last time Aboriginal people featured in an Australian referendum was in 1967, when just over 90 per cent of voters voted ‘Yes’ to the question to approve amendment to section 51 (xxvi), and repeal section 127 of The Constitution.

Hopefully, a majority of Australians of good will, across the generation divide, but especially among younger voters, will vote to support the Voice, and send a message to Dutton and his ilk that, as a country we are better than his politics of division.

90 per cent of Australians voted for ‘yes’ to recognise Indigenous Australians. Photo www.nationalapology.org.au/pivot-points

The 1967 ‘Yes’ vote was the result of a decade-long campaign waged by the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI), whose members included luminaries such as Faith Bandler, Doug Nichols, Chicka Dixon, Harold Blair, Gordon Bryant and many others.

The churches, unions and other key industry and community organisations were mobilised, and ordinary Australians who believed in the need for change made sure that the case was driven by the people and not just by politicians.

Addressing the Voice, Justice Robert French; former chief justice of Australia and Geoffrey Lindell, Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Adelaide, were quoted in the AFR (Nine) in February 2023:

Thomas Mayor in Brunswick Heads in 2018 promoting Uluru Statement From The Heart. Photo supplied

‘The Voice is a big idea but not a complicated one. It is low risk for a high return. The high return is found in the act of recognition, historical fairness and practical benefit to lawmakers, governments, the Australian people and Australia’s First Peoples’.

In Canada, since 1982, the rights of First Nations peoples, including Indian, Inuit, and Metis, have been recognised and affirmed in Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, and clearly this act of goodwill and civility hasn’t damaged or crippled Canadian democracy.

Canada and Australia are also signatories to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and the Australian Human Rights Commission declared that UNDRIP establishes a ‘framework of minimum standards’, the application of these standards rely on the enactment of enabling legislation by nation states.

Canada’s treaties with First Nations are considered a mechanism, a voice, through which the rights and freedoms of First Nations can be negotiated.

Australia does not have such a treaty with Indigenous peoples; hence a voiceless vacuum exists here. An Indigenous Voice to Parliament will help to ensure that restitution is made by instituting a measure to correct historical wrongs, by embracing civility and also serving as a lasting legacy of respect between and for all Australians.

♦ Among his many titles, Bob Morgan is Chair, Board of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education & Research, University of Newcastle.


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26 COMMENTS

  1. Bob it’s easy ..it matters little how much labor or the impartial ABC push the voice ..the people will
    Vote..and they will not vote on something they really do not know about or have enough detail .
    .. the Impartial ABC are right now in the
    NT interviewing true aboriginal people’s
    About the voice..they responded with we know
    Nothing about the voice.. how ironic ! and nor do
    We … the “constituents ” realise this 97 % of the
    Nation are not going to vote for the voice just on
    Feeling alone bob .. this body will have unprecedented powers ..if this voice is voted in
    Will never be able to be voted out !! bob
    Until labor disclose the Legislation regarding the
    Voice ..be honest with the voting public ..instead
    Of being secretive it will fail .. if this intended body
    That will oversee the voice was made up of
    Elders from the NT ..WA ..NSW..SA .. etc it would
    Make some sense.. true Aboriginal people’s.. not
    Some inner city lefty activists..unbelievable that those Elders in the NT had no clue on the voice
    and details ..you would assume the Labor party
    Go to those true Aboriginal areas throughout
    Australia and inform them in the first instance..
    What a mess !!

    • Barrow, how is it then that you are ever able to mark your ballot paper at election times.
      You never have the proposed ‘legislation’ of election time promises or policies presented to you when entering the polling booth.

      The Voice, there is plenty of detail already available, the Professors Calma and Langton Indigenous Voice Co-design Report that your man Dudton is very well aware of ( the Report, both its Interim and Final forms, was presented to Cabinet when Dudton was a Minister ) but
      seemingly has never read.
      When the ‘Third Chamber’ description of the Uluru Statement blew up as a failed line of rejection a new bow had to be pulled – enter Dudton and all his ‘Canberra Voice’ and ‘Details’ bollocks.

      Barrow, the mess is of your and your man Dudton’s own making.
      Instead of parroting the talking lines of Sky stuck in the Dark TV and an out of his depth Dutton, start educating yourself.

      • What are you referring to Joachim
        Educate yourself.? . not one of these bodies
        Has ever been successful for the Aboriginal
        People’s..not one ! You talk of Educate ?
        If the Prime Minister dos not Educate
        The voters on detail/ info ..it will fail..
        Very secretive.. incidentally the Aboriginal
        People’s has a body in place ATM that dos
        All that the voice is meant to achieve..
        Its failed!! .. so what Joachim if some
        Aboriginal people’s have a issue or a problem
        They will have to go to the voice committee..
        That is dividing the nation by Race ..
        Your welcome !!

        • Barrow, The Indigenous Voice Co-design Report – read it and educate yourself – its out in the public domain, nothing secret. Your man peter Dudton can sit beside you as you both the reading to learn yourselves up.

    • So barrow the abc and government mandate versus the” truths” of the Murdoch press and sky after dark. I know which one I would listen to and it ain’t the Murdoch press and their buddies in the coalition.

      • Rod what are you implying ! FYI could not careless what the ABC or Murdoch has
        to say regarding the Voice.. so what other
        Indigenous people’s that were born in this country not entitled to the same as whats
        Been given to the Aboriginal People’s Rod ?
        Knowone owns any lands in this Country
        Including my own properties..we belong
        To the lands ..

        • A case of envy if ever I read it. Really need to consider what you are saying barrow and consider the meaning of the word indigenous. I was born here along with my family but I am definitely not considering myself indigenous as we only go back 200 years not 40 to 60 thousand years.

          • Indigenous: Originating, growing, or produced in a certain place or region.
            Humans are from Africa.

  2. The Voice no goers;
    The Liberals – Mr No / Peter Dutton, he not going real good just now.
    When people from your own side leaving you behind, surely you must be able to see that you have a big problem – Ken Wyatt quits the Liberal Party altogether, Julian Leeser quits the opposition front bench, Jeremy Rockliff Tasmania’s Liberal Premier was out early supporting The Voice.
    The Nationals – Mr No / David Littleproud, he is part of the Federal Coalition, also a Voice naysayer, but has somehow escaped ongoing public scrutiny.

    We’ve had Mabo, Wik, The Apology, Uluru Statement from the Heart and now The Voice.
    The LibNat staying the course, Nooooooooo.

    • The Rule of Law Institute of Australia says…
      ‘The most poetic part of this document, the section that refers to sovereignty as a spiritual notion, is not original and the real author was referring to Africans, not Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.
      It was copied from a 1975 ruling of the International Court of Justice that concerned the people of the Western Sahara.
      The primary author of that passage was a gifted jurist from Zaire, Nicolas Bayona-Ba-Meya, whose submission to the court was picked up and incorporated in the ruling handed down by judge Fouad Ammoun, the court’s Lebanese vice-president.’

      Tom Lehrer says…
      Plagiarize!
      Let no one else’s work evade your eyes
      Remember why the good Lord made your eyes
      So don’t shade your eyes
      But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize
      Only be sure always to call it please “research”
      – from his song entitled ‘Lobachevsky’

        • You did inspire me to check out Sky periodically over the last 6 months, and I’m pretty sure I have more issues with things they say than you do. My complaints are rather different to yours of course. Reminds me why I stopped watching TV all those years ago.

  3. No one has ever faked tears to get their way. Could you imagine how leftists would react if a Liberal had pulled that stunt? But emotional people fall for emotion, as it causes the rational centres of your brain to be down regulated, so you can’t process anything logically nor be critical of what you are hearing.

    • Many of us know how the LNP operate, books are written about it.
      Road to Ruin, Plots and Prayers, Bulldozed. Venom, I could go on, there are so many. These books are at your local libraries.
      The only question is, how can so many of the LNP leftovers from their self inflicted catastrophes, still remain sitting in the same room with them when so many other party members are so disgusted, they refuse to and quit?

      • We know how Labor operates, books are written about it. ‘The Road to Serfdom’ by F A Hayek, springs to mind.

    • Christian again ill informed comments with no facts. Actually Christian the voice started under the coalition and they had a decade to help solve the problems they are pointing out now. No wonder the people are not voting them into government.

      • I must admit, I pay little attention to your ‘What political parties say’ and ‘What mainstream media says’ education program. With all the time I waste studying history, economics, philosophy, political science, etc, I’m surprised I can even survive. How is studying the history of the Waitangi Tribunal even helpful when our honest politicians have god like foresight.

  4. What is very concerning about the Voice to Parliament is that it was funded developed by the LNP, non politically, with the full support of all party’s, with Ken Wyatt the Minister for Indigenous affairs submitting the final report to the Morrison cabinet on July 2021. With Dutton and Littleproud sitting there? The LNP sat on this report ever since, doing nothing, leaving it for the new incoming Labor Govt to take to a referendum and then legislate.
    For Dutton and the usual suspects in the media to now allow Dutton to claim they know nothing of it and imply that it is a Labor policy is nothing but a completely contrived and calculated to mislead and misinform the public. Listening to some media, like talkback radio is just a disgrace and a haven for this calculated misinformation bordering on racism. There have now been several racial abuses on indigenous footballers.
    Every time Dutton and his leftovers open their mouths they are misinforming you. Some of the things Dutton and others are saying are beyond appalling and they really should be considering standing down from their own party’s before they damage them and the nation any further.
    Is it any wonder Andrew Gee quit the Nationals, then Ken Wyatt quit the Liberal party and now Julian Lesser has stood down as shadow Attorney General. How many more will remove themselves from what is now this Dutton/Littleproud fiasco??

    • You’re watching a ‘Punch and Judy’ show. The contradictions people notice from time to time are because it’s not real. You don’t actually have a say. It is merely required that the tax cattle think they do, so they stay in line.

    • Well Tweed, it looks as if we are in furious agreement that racism is abhorrent, and I have yet to see a system based on apartheid that was worth a damn.
      But tell me what does it mean, if we, the people, decide that any citizen with a hint of the ‘tar brush’ is incapable of being able to interact with the normal avenues of participation in a democracy and so, we must then provide a ‘nanny state’ exception to normal political participation, based solely on RACE ?
      If the Yes vote is victorious our constitution will be altered to discriminate, for all time, dividing Australians on being Black or White.
      The government has funded radio stations, television channels, the ABC has for years, and still are, prefixing most broadcasts with the nonsensical acknowledgment of some non-existent aboriginal country, even government deliberations are preceded by a ‘welcome to country’ that is purely nothing but propaganda directed to this hideous idea of racial discrimination and the yes vote , so much for equal funding of both sides of the argument.
      Cheers,G”)

      • Apartheid? Do you really believe that. No wording suggests that. Consultation does not mean authoritarian/ power in one groups hand. What extremist nonsense.

        • I agree with Rod. It’s not apartheid, it’s just one racial group getting extra political consideration over all the others. This change will simply create an implied right for racial groups to do that to each other.

          • I think the mob who were here first, and whose law, lore and rights were totally disregarded in a genocidal two hundred year quest, are not just another “racial group” in the mix.

            Btw – there is already mention of race in the constitution as Wikipedia and many other sources will note: ‘ The second question of the 1967 Australian referendum of 27 May 1967, called by the Holt Government, related to Indigenous Australians. Voters were asked whether to give the Federal Government the power to make special laws for Indigenous Australians in states,[1] and whether in population counts for constitutional purposes to include all Indigenous Australians.The term “the Aboriginal Race” was used in the question.

            ‘ Technically the referendum question was a vote on the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginals) Bill 1967 that would amend section 51(xxvi) and repeal section 127.

            ‘The amendments to the Constitution were overwhelmingly endorsed, winning 90.77% of votes cast and having majority support in all six states.The Bill became an Act of Parliament on 10 August 1967.’

            Note also that the legislation followed the referendum – as is appropriate – given that a major function of the Constitution is to outline the matters on which the parliament can make laws.

  5. This referendum proposal is not complicated, nor is it controversial, it is only being made complicated and controversial by people who want it defeated. over the years there has been a number of Aboriginal advisory bodies that have done exactly that, and the Coalition have managed to abolish them all whenever it’s politically expedient, that is precisely why it needs to be put into the Constitution to put it beyond the reach of the Coalition. Wake up people, it’s time more responsibility is given to Aboriginal people to fix some of these long-running problems that affect their Communities, and if they stuff it up then they can’t blame us white fellers.

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