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Byron Shire
May 30, 2023

Voice and conscience

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Some issues that parliamentarians have to vote on transcend partisan political positions. Oftentimes the issues relate to deeply-held moral, religious, or ethical views. In my view the Voice is such an issue. All parliamentarians should have a conscience vote on this, even the Nationals, who classically said (28/11/2022) that the party’s decision to oppose the Voice was not binding and individuals ‘could choose how they would be involved’, whatever that means. I’m hoping it means they can have a conscience vote.

The Voice advisory group want the opportunity to express their concerns in their own way, not through the echo chambers of party-aligned politicians or distant bureaucrats. They want this critical role, not just when the parliament votes on a matter affecting them, but in the formulation of policy and in the execution of an enacted law. They want engagement at the earliest time that an issue emerges right through to when a law is being implemented by the respective department. And afterwards!

It’s an advisory role – not a veto role – on policy and law. It requires that parliamentarians, ministers (and their departments) engage with them. Consider how all the hundreds of lobbyists operating in the shadows in Canberra have significant impact on law-making and how little scrutiny they are subject to. A Voice body will be visible and subject to constant scrutiny. 

There will be a learning curve to negotiate because this is a significant change to how governments and First Nations people interact. But we have had centuries now of failed policy and First Nations peoples’ concerns not being heard. Some short-term disruption is a small price to pay for what our collective conscience needs.

To those who say it’s a waste of money, or that it’s another layer of bureaucracy, I would say that such persons don’t mind when the dice falls in their favour, but not if the dice favours someone else, such as a marginalised group.

At base, does a supposedly harmonious, multicultural society that our politicians keep reminding us of, function appropriately when the original inhabitants continue to experience disadvantage?  

The Voice proposal goes to the essence of what an inclusive, compassionate society should be. From the Uluru Statement of the Heart in 2017 to the present it has been advanced with the utmost grace, with a level of trust in Australianism (i.e. the noble version of Australia), that I’ve not witnessed before, and it is asking us to consider and to vote with our conscience.

(I respectfully acknowledge the Guardian article by Natalie Tarman on 29/3/23)

Frank Lynch, Wilsons Creek

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  1. It’s not what you think the words mean, it’s how those words are interpreted given centuries of Common Law precedent. My constitutional right to say what I say on here actual comes from the ‘you must vote’ clause of the constitution. How can you get from one to the other? How can you meaningfully vote if you can’t hear all political opinions. You are actually making apartheid lawful when you put those words into the constitution. It goes like this…

    So the Aboriginals are a separate polity based on race, therefore all races (ethnicities) are separate polities, therefore you are not discriminating among equals. As far as veto – if an instrument is in the constitution, it can’t be excluded by another instrument, ie the House of Reps can’t cut the Senate out of proceedings. Why do you people think legislation is written in English? And why do you think it’s not interpreted in the context of it’s neighboring legal concepts? Some High Court challenges will make your words take on some very exciting meanings.

  2. Actually compulsory voting, like the electoral act is not in the constitution but an act of parliament. Think of it this way Christian the voice is about representations to the executive and parliament by peoples that were ignored or considered of no consequence when australia was colonised, like in South Africa where the indigenous people were considered as sub human before that was changed in the 1990s. Putting it in the constitution means the voice, whatever form it takes as determined by parliament, is not able to be dissolved as it was by Howard’s government, but must exist in some form.
    Are suffering FOMO anxiety Christian as you consider it how will it really affect you? Do you know what the word consultation means?

    • I understand that the separate concepts of ‘the public must vote’ and ‘every individual must vote’ may seem the same to you, but they aren’t. Even without a compulsory voting regulation, disallowing my political speech would still be disenfranchising the public. Don’t hate at me for it, it was the High Court that ruled it so. They also parlayed ‘freedom of the press’ by including that media such as the Echo have an obligation to get all opinions out to the public to the greatest extent practical.

      I’d point out again that black people are not native to South Africa, and arrived after the Whites did. And that the actual natives teamed up with the Whites a few years ago to try to split off part of the Cape as a separate country to get away from Black rule. If the voice is going to do to us what has been going on in South Africa since ’94, then you have made an even stronger argument that we can. We would love you to put that case forward for us. Thank you. Please do that.

      • What the f… Christian? That’s is just so wrong I worry about how you accept that view. I suggest you review your sources of information.

        • Be more specific. Are you saying Lange v ABC (1999) is a conspiracy theory? Are you implying the Khoisan have engaged in a 400 year conspiracy to convince the world that they were the only people Europeans found in SA and that the sub-saharan Bantus aren’t sub-saharan? Or are you saying the rolling blackouts, water shortages, massive devaluation of the Rand, inability to field an Airforce, ethnic murder rate, etc, are just an SA rouse to make the world think they are no longer the richest most powerful country in Africa, and that every South African I have talked to face to face, black and white, for decades, has been lying to me…cause…reasons?

          Let me know which part of reality you are wanting to conspiratorialise away.

  3. Yes Frank, this is how our Parliament should work, but the sad thing here is the extreme right rump of the Liberal Party- that has been in control since Abbott was leader- will do everything within their power to deny Albo and the Labor Party any sort of a win under any circumstances, their ideology just does not allow it; however the great thing here is that these brain dead ideologs are taking themselves and the Liberal Party over a cliff and into oblivion.


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