Contributor Walter Waverley was collecting his mail when he noticed fellow customers at Paddington Post Office feeding a rubbish bin by the door with a rich diet of discarded “Yes” handbills from local Wentworth Teal MP Allegra Spender. A portent of the Voice referendum’s defeat October 14? Like so many fellow Australians, Walter certainly hopes that will be the case. But it ain’t over until it’s over, as they say, and despite what all the polls are indicating, this might yet be a close run thing.
The cause for that small, whispering voice of alarm can be found behind the checkout at another commercial establishment, the Coles supermarket on Pier Street in Altona, some 900-odd kilometres to the south. Atop the grey metal cabinet in which they keep the cigarettes there are two flags, and only two — the Aboriginal flag and that of Torres Strait Islanders. Of the national flag, the one that stands for us all regardless of colour, creed, race and political bent, not a trace.
The Australian flag’s absence prompted a question to the checkout chick, a youngish sort who, at a guess, was picking up a little casual-work cash after school.
“They are the Australian flags,” she said, “the flags of the first Australians.”
A checkout line isn’t the best place to begin remedial courses in history, current events and media misrepresentation, particularly when Coles is nudging customers to use its robot scanners by deliberately hiring too few humans. With the checkout queue growing ever longer, a gruff harrumph was the only response possible — that and the unsettling thought the young lady personing (that would be the term she prefers, no doubt) the cash register might represent a considerable but unquizzed body of the young and miseducated keen to support the ‘Yes’ proposition.
The Voice vote is now but weeks away. Let’s not get cocky. Instead, should you know someone who has yet to decide or is a Yesser, share a link to our online August edition detailing in essay after essay why the Voice cannot be allowed to prevail.
For those who wish share one or several of our 40 authors’ essays, they can be found here
— roger franklin