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Byron Shire
April 22, 2024

Yes23 comes to Lennox Head

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Kerry O’Brien, Justine Elliot, Noel Pearson and crowd at Yes23 event at Lennox. Photo David Lowe.

Noel Pearson and Kerry O’Brien brought the Yes23 roadshow to a packed house at Lennox Head Cultural Centre on Tuesday night, as part of the education campaign for the forthcoming Voice referendum. The event was hosted by the federal member for Richmond, Justine Elliot.

After a short film about the 2017 National Constitutional Convention (which resulted in the Uluru Statement from the Heart), MP Justine Elliot thanked Kerry O’Brien and Noel Pearson for coming to Lennox Head for ‘this important conversation’.

Aunty Julia Paden welcomed the large gathering before Justine Elliot returned to the lectern to describe the referendum on the Voice as a ‘once in a generation opportunity to shape our country for the better.’

Richmond MP Justine Elliot speaks at Yes23 event. Photo David Lowe.

Listening

Mrs Elliot said voting for constitutional recognition through a Voice was about ‘recognition, listening, and better results… because we know that when governments actively listen to people on the ground, better decisions are made, and better results occur.

‘We feel incredibly privileged to have Noel Pearson here on the north coast,’ she said, describing her guest as the driving force for Indigenous land rights for more than 30 years. ‘He’s a co-founder of Cape York Land Council, and a member of the First Nations Referendum Working Group.’

Mr Pearson then made his opening remarks, speaking without notes, and drawing upon ideas developed during his career in the law and public policy, with reference to his own journey and community in far north Queensland.

He said he’d last been in the Northern Rivers many years ago to talk about the High Court’s Mabo decision. ‘I believed at the time that we had the opportunity with Mabo to really lay a foundation of reconciliation between the law brought by the invaders and customary law here in Australia,’ said Mr Pearson.

‘All it required was the country to be faithful to its own law,’ to recognise the fact that ‘when the settlers first arrived, the entire continent was owned by Indigenous peoples.’ He noted there had been thirty years of land claims since, to restore ‘some semblance of justice to the original owners’, with the remaining Cape York land claims due to be settled within two years.

Noel Pearson signs books at Lennox Yes23 event. Photo David Lowe.

Land

‘Land was always going to be the sore point,’ said Mr Pearson. ‘It always is, around the world. Peoples and societies grappling with their history centre their grievances on land, and the appropriation of land through colonisation.

‘So Australians are lucky. We’ve had a major High Court decision, followed by subsequent decisions that have given us the basis for peace.’

He noted that while settler land titles issued from 1788 to 1992 were all protected ‘on day 1 of the Native Title Act’, Aboriginal people had been tied up in courts for decades  to prove their rights to what remained.

Mr Pearson said one of the tasks now was to seek ‘recognition of our peoples’ in the current Constitution of Australia, something not done in 1788 or 1901.

‘In fact, we were explicitly excluded from the Constitution,’ he said. ‘There were two references to Aboriginal people, both of which were negative. One, that the new parliament would have no power in respect of Aboriginal people. And secondly, that we would not be counted in the census.

‘And we went for 66 years in that position, non-citizens in our country.’

Noel Pearson at Lennox Yes23 event. Photo David Lowe.

Race

He said ‘race was the door through which we entered the Constitution’, a section which had actually been placed there by the founding fathers to exclude Chinese people from equal rights before the law, as part of White Australia.

‘The parliament’s power to legislate in respect of us comes from that race power,’ said Mr Pearson. ‘One of the ironies of 1967 [when the referendum to make Aboriginal people citizens passed] is that the word Aboriginal disappeared completely from the Constitution. We are no longer mentioned, because those words of exclusion from the original Constitution have now been removed.

‘So there is no positive recognition of Indigenous people in our Constitution. It is the one missing piece of the jigsaw, as far as our national democracy is concerned. I think it’s now high time to fix that missing piece.’

Posters at Yes23 event at Lennox. Photo David Lowe.

Coming together

He went on to describe recognition as a mirror ‘of who you are’, as much as it is about the people you are being recognised. ‘You will see your place in Australia and how we all join together.’

‘I believe the three parts of the Australian story will come together when we do Indigenous recognition,’ said Mr Pearson, namely 60,000 years of Indigenous heritage, the rule of law inherited from Britain, and the ‘extraordinary multicultural unity’ which followed.

He said there was a place for all in the ‘grand, compelling and unfolding story of Australia. We’ll come to a new understanding of who we are as Australians and our relationship with one another.’

Mr Pearson described the current process as  ‘both our last best hope and our first best chance’ for reconciliation. ‘I’m hoping that all of us will want a new Australia to emerge, that is confident and no longer uncertain about who we are, rather than an Australia that imagines ourselves as settlers, and then the natives are somewhere on the margins of the nation.’

He said this would give a new sense of belonging to Aboriginal children, currently growing up in their own country with anxiety and uncertainty.

Getting organised to win

‘Now is the time for responsibility, for 97 per cent of Australia to step up to this opportunity,’ said Mr Pearson. ‘We’re only 3 per cent of the country… as a matter of mathematics, we cannot win this.

Supporters at Lennox Head. Photo David Lowe.

‘It’s you, the 97 per cent that can win this. And you can win this for the country – for all of us, if you become active in the coming weeks and months, and we get organised to win. Thank you.’

Justine Elliot then introduced ‘one of Australia’s most respected journalists’, Kerry O’Brien, now a Northern Rivers local, the winner of multiple Walkley awards and well-known for his work on ABC TV.

Mr O’Brien started by focusing on the wording change proposed for the Constitution. ‘Can you take us through that?’

Noel Pearson then explained the elements, from recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first peoples of Australia, to the guarantee of a Voice with the ability to make representations to the Parliament and the executive government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

‘The final clause of the provision answers the question of detail. It says, “The parliament shall have power to make laws with respect to the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Voice.”

‘It’s the parliament’s job,’ reiterated Mr Pearson. ‘It’s not the government’s job. They can try details, but they’ve got to get it through the Senate… That’s how our system works.’

ABC analogy

Noel Pearson then used the analogy of the ABC to explain what this would mean in practice. ‘The ABC was created under constitutional power in 1932, the Australian Broadcasting Commission Act, and then amended in 1942, during the war, and then in 1983, completely overhauled to become the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Kerry O’Brien speaking at Yes23 event at Lennox. Photo David Lowe.

‘The parliament always has the ability to change the details from time to time; what they can’t change is what we approve in the Constitution.’

Kerry O’Brien then examined the history of past attempts by Indigenous Australians to have a voice to Parliament, and to government.

‘There have been a number,’ he said. ‘The first of them really came with the Whitlam government. And when the Whitlam government was sacked, and Fraser took over, Fraser changed that version of the indigenous voice to another version.

‘And when he lost to Hawke, after a few years Hawke changed Fraser’s version, and he ultimately came up with ATSIC [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission]. And then John Howard came along, who had described ATSIC from opposition as a “black parliament” and voted against it. We all knew that its days were numbered, and he eventually abolished it.’

ATSIC not replaced

‘He didn’t replace it with another clear Indigenous voice, he abolished it and dispersed that capacity for Indigenous advice to parliament on policy. He dispersed that back into the predominantly white government departments. So, this is at the core of this referendum, is it not? And this is why permanence is so important. Can you speak to that?’

Noel Pearson agreed with Kerry O’Brien’s analysis, noting that while the details of how the proposed Voice might work over time could change via parliament, as needed, the Voice itself would remain.

‘We’ve had 20 years of no representative body. Have there been improvements? Have we closed the gap in that period? The answer is no. I would objectively say to you that the situation has got worse for our people since the abolition of ATSIC,’ said Mr Pearson.

Kerry O’Brien and Noel Pearson on stage at Yes23 event, Lennox Head Cultural Centre. Photo David Lowe.

‘The disempowerment of our people has increased in my view.

‘Yes, there were problems with ATSIC, and there was probably justification for a new version, or for amendments to be made, but rather than amendments being made, they just abolished the whole thing. Remember Kerry, when Lowitja O’Donoghue ran it, ATSIC was delivering so much benefit to our people.’

Kerry O’Brien said he did remember, saying there were many achievements and advances at the time, ‘not least of which was that it became a training ground for young Indigenous people who became the future leaders.

‘I can remember Megan Davis at one point talking about about the cruelty when ATSIC was chopped, with hundreds of millions of dollars of programs and infrastructure and so on. It was like a giant rug being pulled out from under more remote and regional Indigenous communities.’

Confidence

‘But,’ Kerry O’Brien asked, ‘how do you have confidence that by having this voice enshrined in the Constitution, so it gets its permanence, that it will actually have the capacity to close these gaps of inequality across so many areas, If the parliament doesn’t have to listen?

‘What are you relying on?’ he asked. ‘Do you have a confidence that if the quality of that voice is strong, it can’t be denied?’

I think so,’ said Noel Pearson. ‘I spoke at Garma about the horrendous problem of rheumatic heart disease, which afflicts children in remote communities throughout Australia.

‘Once you have the fever, your heart is then compromised, and it can’t be cured. You need stringent treatment for the rest of your life. And the people that are falling over in their twenties, thirties, forties, unexpectedly from heart failure, are victims of rheumatic heart disease contracted in early childhood.

Noel Pearson speaking at Yes23 event at Lennox. Photo David Lowe.

‘Now, we have a member in Cape York peninsula, a federal member who has been a member for 26 years. And we checked Hansard to see if he’d ever given one speech about rheumatic heart disease of his constituents, not one. The first one he ever gave was a week after I gave that speech.

‘Those are the kinds of issues that are just absolutely tragic and need attention, and the Voice is going to keep bowling up these issues to the parliament and to the government to say, listen, these are the issues we must be attending to.’

Indigenous differences

Kerry O’Brien then asked Noel Pearson to help the audience understand the differences among some Indigenous Australians over the voice. ‘Magnified, I must say, in some of the mainstream media. And certainly by the no campaign. How significant are the differences that we’re hearing about? And how do we measure them?’

Mr Pearson responded, ‘When we went to Uluru, there’d been an exhaustive process in the regions. There were twelve mini Ulurus around the country; Thursday Island, central Australia, Cape York, Tasmania, and there were very robust discussions and debates about what recognition should be proposed.

‘And when those groups then sent delegates to Uluru at the end of the process, I think nine people abstained from the vote and walked out. Out of 250 delegates, nine people walked out.

‘It was really the high watermark. I’ve been involved in this business three decades, and I’ve never seen a self determination process like the one leading to the Uluru Statement. So in terms of getting consensus, of course we’re like any other community in terms of the great difficulty in mustering consensus, but I don’t know of any community that’s achieved the kind of consensus that we achieved in 2017 around the Uluru Statement.’

Kerry O’Brien, Justine Elliot, Noel Pearson and crowd at Yes23 event at Lennox. Photo David Lowe.

Eighty percent support

‘We’ve been tracking the polls for five years now, and 80 per cent of Indigenous Australians support the Voice. It should come as no surprise to you that our people are the heaviest subscribers.

‘Some, like my own siblings, have about as much awareness as the average Australian about the issues. They say, “Go talk to Noelly about it, I’m going fishing.”

‘So you can expect that the level of knowledge in any family or community about these issues is mixed. There’s a percentage that are highly engaged, and get involved in advocacy, and there’s a percentage like everybody else.’

Kerry O’Brien responded by saying, ‘Behind this argument of difference is the implication that all Aboriginal people must be on the same page, as if Indigenous people are homogenous compared to the rest of us, who all have our differences on many different policies.

‘We certainly have political differences in terms of who we vote for. But differences get settled don’t they?’

‘Yes,’ said Noel Pearson, ‘and I urge my people to not be fooled by some of the arguments. I think that this is a good result for us, if we get this Voice.’

Voice and veto

He said that in the dialogues leading up to Uluru, many ideas were proposed, but almost everyone coalesced around the most powerful idea, that of a Voice.

Noel Pearson speaking at Yes23 event at Lennox. Photo David Lowe.

‘We tried to be disciplined about deciding what is the best value recognition we can get… It’s not a veto, we understand that. No parliament in the world gives anyone a veto. So how can you expect us to have extracted out of Australia a veto? It’s just a silly idea.

‘So I’m very proud of the choice that was made at Uluru. I think it’s completely defensible, and if we win this, we will have done a good deal with the rest of the country, about how to recognise us in the Constitution.’

Mr O’Brien asked how the Voice would represent so many diverse Indigenous communities, each with their own issues and needs. Noel Pearson said there were many proposed approaches, with local, regional and national conversations all needing to be respected.

‘My own personal view is that in that process of putting your voice forward, there should be capacity for people to dissent, like a parliamentary committee… so that parliament can hear that, oh, those people in Cape York,they want to tackle this problem in a certain way. But it’s different from the view of people in Sydney, say.’

Sovereignty

Kerry O’Brien then said, ‘We’re on Bundjalung country. Bundjalung people have never ceded sovereignty. Is there any reason that would change with a Voice to parliament enshrined in the Constitution? Does that go to sovereignty in any way, shape, or form?’

‘The Uluru Statement is premised on the truth that sovereignty has not been ceded by First Nations groups,’ said Mr Pearson. ‘This Voice question is is not an issue of sovereignty. It’s about having a place in the Constitution and in the democracy, so that we can put a voice to the parliament.’

Kerry O’Brien at Yes23 event at Lennox. Photo David Lowe.

Mr O’Brien then talked about sovereignty and treaty. ‘Could that same Voice to parliament interfere with or impede any future treaty process?’

Mr Pearson said future treaty agreements would have to be consented to by the individual groups and nations concerned. ‘The Voice will advocate for issues like that, I expect, and there will be a platform for groups to advocate, but agreements will have to be struck by individual groups, and at the First Nations level.’

Kerry O’Brien then talked about the three strands idea [Indigenous, British, migrant] coming together in one Australia. ‘I’ve always found that a very powerful and effective image,’ he said, although he wondered if it was too abstract.

‘We can talk about feeling better as a people,’ he said. ‘Perhaps we stand a little taller; we can look at other nations in the eye and when we speak to them about their human rights abuses. But it’s still something of an abstract concept.’

Racism or something more?

Mr Pearson agreed it was somewhat abstract, but suggested that if the three strands could be meaningfully united, it would help the country. ‘I watched the [Adam] Goodes film a few years ago, and tried to understand the inexplicable antipathy.

‘My first view was, yeah, there’s the old racism. I get that, from colonial times. We’ve inherited that and it’s still in the bloodstream, so to speak. But that can’t be a full explanation…

Yes23 event at Lennox Head Cultural Centre. Photo David Lowe.

‘I return to the third reason, which is part of the issue in Australia, that is white versus white over black. White progressives versus white conservatives arguing about blackfellas. That’s part of the cultural struggle. So there’s an element of that, yeah…

‘The driver is, I don’t think non-Indigenous Australians quite feel comfortable about us. They don’t know how to place us. Where do we fit? And I think it’s easy to arouse fear. I think that aspect of the problem is not necessarily a racist thing.

‘It’s about uncertainty of the place of Indigenous people in Australia AND the place of the majority in Australia. How does it all fit in?’

Kerry O’Brien said, ‘It’s no surprise, if you contemplate the fact that until relatively recently, the vast bulk of people in this country were ignorant of Indigenous history, Indigenous tradition, Indigenous culture, the Indigenous story, and most particularly ignorance of the colonial impact on Indigenous people.

‘You know, the 1968 Boyer Lectures of Bill Stanner, the eminent anthropologist at the time who talked about the great Australian silence, talked about the view from the window on the Australian landscape that was placed in such a way that a very large part of that landscape couldn’t be seen.’

Mr Pearson agreed. ‘But why this cult of forgetfulness?’ He said it went back to the land rights debates of the 1830s. ‘The crucial argument came down to this; if we recognize the land rights of the Aborigines, we are basically de-legitimising our presence here. Literally, we’ll have to pack up and go back to England!’

He said the deep fear of recognising land rights came from settlers feeling that it would mean denying their right to be in Australia.

Kerry O’Brien calls on a questioner at Yes23 event at Lennox. Photo David Lowe.

Questions

The first questioner asked why Jewish people were not told to forget the past, as Aboriginal people frequently were. Noel Pearson said Australians needed to remember the past, but also transcend it, as many Jewish people had done.

‘Never become a victim of the past, even though you are victimised,’ he said. That way we can ‘develop a mentality of perseverance’, to build something out of the rubble, including a firmer future for our children.

The next questioner asked what would happen if yes campaign was unsuccessful? Kerry O’Brien said there would not be another opportunity for at least a generation. ‘It will be a toxic, toxic challenge for any future government to address.’

Noel Pearson said he was trying to see a pathway through to the future destination for the country, but couldn’t see one if the referendum failed. ‘I will have to shut up,’ he said, along with all his colleagues who have urged Indigenous Australians to trust the process and trust their fellow Australians, for fifteen years of negotiations.

‘I think we’ve got the best chance in our hands now,’ he said. ‘Whatever it is that will need to be done by future leadership, I cannot conceive of. Not that I’m conceding!’

Kerry O’Brien signing at Yes23 event at Lennox. Photo David Lowe.

Intellectually bankrupt no campaign

The next question was about the source of the influence in the no campaign. Kerry O’Brien said there was a Dad’s Army aspect to it, but suggested the people involved and who was funding it was less important than the fact that it was such a bankrupt campaign, intellectually.

He said it was a template taken directly from the republic referendum.

‘Where are the original, constructive thoughts about why we shouldn’t go down this path? Where are the alternatives being proposed?’ he asked.

‘Everything, it seems to me, is being cast in the negative. There are some lies, there is deliberate misinformation… If there is real strength to the no case, why did they have to lie?’

Noel Pearson talked about the right wing think tanks driving the no case, including the Institute of Public Affairs, and the Center for Independent Studies. ‘This campaign has been long in the brewing [and people] have been maneuvered into position.’

He suggested Warren Mundine and Jacinta Nampijinpa Price were not the real players, but representatives of other interests. ‘I sometimes feel a great deal of sorrow for them rather than anger… These right wing forces are really using them as the front for the argument.’

25,000 volunteers and rising

The next speaker asked how people could help the yes case in the community.

Supporters at Yes23 event at Lennox Head Cultural Centre. Photo David Lowe.

‘We’ve got 25,000 volunteers,’ said Noel Pearson. ‘And I’m told it’s the largest mobilisation of volunteers in any political campaign in this country. We’re adding about 1,000 volunteers a week now, and we need to continue to do that.

‘We need Australians to come out and localise for the campaign. I keep pushing the responsibility back to the Australians.

‘The Constitution actually gives you the responsibility for changing it. You’re the 97 per cent… Do whatever it is you can do to join the campaign, to be active, to not be tourists who just say, “oh, I wish this result will happen.”

‘Become volunteers, urge your friends and relatives of children to be volunteers and join Yes23. This will be an important thing to reflect on in years to come.’

Kerry O’Brien urged people to put a yes sign in their front yards, and put up another one when it’s stolen, as his had already been, twice.

In response to a final question, Noel Pearson said, ‘We’ve got to get the soft yesses on board. There’s a whole heap of these are people who are within our grasp… there are so many of them.’

‘If we want the forest, we need the Voice’

Mr Pearson said that a recent experience with an initially hostile crowd in Adelaide had convinced him that the support could be found in the community for the Voice, if people had the facts.

‘Take them through the card and get them to understand this is the content of the alteration. Absolutely affirm that there’s 80 per cent plus support in Indigenous community. Don’t be confused about this,’ he said. ‘I’m telling you that the Voice is crucial to build on the good things we’re doing.

Richmond MP Justine Elliot with Noel Pearson at Lennox Yes23 event. Photo David Lowe.

‘It’s like we’ve got these amazing seedlings that are starting to flower, but if we want the forest, we need the Voice.’

After the event, Richmond MP Justine Elliot told The Echo she thought the event had been a great success. ‘Noel Pearson has inspired so many people,’ she said.

‘I just want to say how wonderful it is to have the great support of the community here, and at Tweed Heads tomorrow. There is a lot of momentum around this and I certainly hope that everybody becomes involved in the campaign, and we will have a successful yes vote. It’s so important.’

You can find out more about the Yes23 campaign here.

Photo gallery from the Lennox Head event below:


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28 COMMENTS

    • You mean that you will be voting yes to continuing the British race based constitutional privilege, and that the preexisting original people of the Aboriginal race can go F themselves? There are two sets of laws in Australia, the preexisting Aboriginal Laws of this land, and the second set of Laws bought in and imposed by the British with violence( despite it was illegal under Royal Law, British Parliamentary Law and International law, to occupy already occupied land ) – but hey Chris, we dont need to do anything about that eh!!. Jeez you see how disputes over land pans out every night on the news, perhaps Chris youd like to considder that if we dont work out a reasonable solution with the actual locals what is the likelihood that it ends in Civil War. You may have put down roots here, but they are shallow and apear to be of the foreighn weed variety that is attempting to smother the far deeper roots of the ‘old growth’ culture.

      • No, it means he will be voting No (proudly) to dividing the by inserting Race into the Constitution – and I’ll be doing the same. Voting No, you should too.

        • You do know race is in the constitution, people. If states make a law for example stopping a race from voting then they can’t vote federally is actually in the constitution. So how about before making statements like above mark you check out the document.

      • Well, that would be the quickest and cheapest option. If you give into these activists, the demands will never end. Nothing will ever be enough. However, I doubt they know the difference between a ‘clip’ and a ‘magazine’.

    • If that’s why you’re voting no, then you’re not answering the question being asked, nor have you understood what’s being proposed.
      Maybe look at sources other than rupert or fakebook for your information…. unless your whole aim is to maintain the status quo of aboriginals as second class citizens in their own land as a result of centuries of racism

      • He has answered the question. The answer to the question/s that are being asked are either a Yes or a No – there is no other answers. He is answering No, as I will be. I suggest you go back and read the question.

        • What a bizzare interpretation.
          This is the wording of the question: “A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?”

          The proposed law that Australians are being asked to approve at the referendum would insert the following lines into the Constitution:
          “Chapter IX Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
          s.129 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
          In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:
          (i) there shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
          (ii) the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
          (iii) the Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.”

          Firstly there is currently NO recognition in the Constitution of Aboriginal peoples & Australia is the only former British colony to lack that. Secondly the Voice can ONLY advise on matters directing relating to Aboriginal people. Nothing else. It has no powers, it simply an advisory function. The government is not bound to accept or follow the advice. Any advice is not binding, it is just advice.

          Compare it with the current situation where laws are made directly affecting Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people by white governments with no obligation at all to consult, ask, listen or collaborate on effective solutions. Every lobbyist from every industry currently has more input to government legislation than the most disadvantaged group in Australia. Such disadvantage has been created by 235 of discriminatory racist policy being imposed.

          For example, Closing the Gap is one of the long-term policies – adopted by both sides of politics when in power, that has failed miserably, with one of the main criticisms of its failure being that Aboriginal people have never been consulted about anything it has imposed upon them.

      • Your referendum is all about creating a second class of citizen in this country. Or am I going to qualify to be a member of your Voice?

        • How? Can’t see anything being created except to help correct the injustices done to our indigenous people. Maybe you feel discriminated against Christian, can you at least provide examples?

  1. One good example is worth a thousand words. Pearson gave that by pointing out that their local MP was silent about the important matter of rheumatic fever until after Pearson spoke up about it.

    Communication is always a good thing. Also it is good for everyone to raise the self esteem of young people, who know their people were massacred and enslaved because they were not of European ancestry.

  2. the yes campaign is a wolf in sheeps clothing, as the yes vote has zero to do with helping or protecting the original people and everything to do with stripping the rights from everyone and giving the out of control and invalid “australian government” the ability to decimate the australian constitution and rewrite it into whatever it feels like. Unelected Albanese should be charged with treason for this thinly veiled attempt to further destroy our country

    • Where do you get your information. None of that is true. Same stupid sh*t was thrown around at the time of Wik, then Mabo, & during the 30-year evolution of land rights the sky didn’t fall in. No-one lost their backyards. All bigoted nonsense.

      BTW Albanese won the election. That makes him elected.

      Why are you & others like “Mark” & “Christian v Steinberg” so determined to maintain Aboriginals as 2nd class citizens?

      • We don’t want them to be a second class of citizen, so let’s remove those “Are you Aboriginal or Torries Strait Islander?” questions off all the forms. They can get the same services the rest of us do.

    • Mr max igan, with all those conspiracy theory’s swirling around in that very confined space in your head, how do you ever sleep at night?

      • I doubt you meant to make that joke Keith, but it’s funny, none the less. This Max Igan is stating the obvious. The real Max Igan lost me at ‘Mud Flood’. I prefer Dave Scorpio myself.

    • Have you had an innoculation of Trumpism? What a tosser to say that Albanese is ‘unelected’. He is the elected member for his own electorate, and again by other elected members to become their leader, and by Convention, the nation’s Prime Minister. Australians at large don’t elect a Prime Minister. In fact the Constitution makes no mention of such a creature.

      I wonder if most ‘No’ voters just don’t know what they don’t know.

  3. I have written numerous letters and followed up with many “comments” in support of the Voice, and I am astounded by the negativity, misinformation, scare-mongering, arrogance, intervention by vested interest groups, political opportunism and avid stupidity being expressed in opposition to this very simple request by a progressive Govt. When our constitution was drawn up in 1900 it completely excluded Aboriginal people as having any rights whatsoever, it only gave the Federal Govt the right to make decisions FOR Aboriginal people. 2023 is not 1900, it would be great to think that as a country we have matured into a more caring society, but at times that opinion is surely tested. I’m thinking that the vast majority of entrenched naysayers are not really thinking of Aboriginal issues at all, and are only using this opportunity simply as a means of defeating a great Labor initiative. Since the election Peter Dutton has not been able to land a glove on Anthony Albanese and the Labor Govt, and is hoping and praying that if this referendum is defeated it might wound Albo in the runup to the next election, which, at present the Coalition is living in fear of. Hopefully this disgraceful opportunism by Dutton can also very easily backfire, and make an already divided Liberal Party even more toxic to the voters.

  4. The Lennox Head forum seems to have been far better than the Tweed Heads one.

    As an aside, Justine Elliot may consider listening to her constituents, and encouraging her staff to do the same. Their usual response is to tell the person to send them an email. It seems they find it difficult to write notes and then send them off to the relevant Minister or government department.

  5. I volunteered to help out at the Tweed civic centre meeting. It too, was a Huge turn out and it was great to see so many positive people, all joined together with a great purpose. You can clearly see the Yes vote is unstoppable, not at all what the usual suspects in the MSM portray 24/7. It will eventually mean the end of Dutton, he’s destroying what little credibility he ever thought he had. Already Liberals and Nationals have told Dutton to stop dividing his party and the country and take off his racist Trump red cap tactics and stop the contrived lies and misinformation he’s running through the usual dark side media suspects.

  6. If you don’t know, vote no? Stop and think just how ridiculously absurd that statement really is!
    If your kid came home from school with a failed exam report card that stated. Little Peter has refused to read instructions and wrote on his exam form, “If you don’t know, just write No, like my dad, Peter Dutton”! Would that be acceptable to all of you, “Vote No to the Voice No hopers”? Well don’t do that on your referendum ballot! If you don’t know, find out and vote Yes! Don’t be like little Peter the son of the stupid Peter Dutton voice, don’t know vote No hoper!!

    • If the teacher can not teach the children the importance of reading instructions, they should be fired. If the instructions are so vague the children can’t figure out what they mean, the teacher should be fired. You are victim blaming, Tweed.

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