Editor's Column

Post-Referendum Politics

In April this year, following news reports of Aboriginal youths in Alice Springs rioting and beating up bystanders, the polls for Yes votes in the Voice referendum turned sharply downwards. They continued in that direction throughout May. In an apparently united response, two of the most influential intellectual advocates of this long-term political campaign, historian Henry Reynolds and academic Marcia Langton, made similar public statements. If the No vote was victorious, they said, there would be violence in the streets. Reynolds wrote in an article in the Australian on May 3:

Defeat will have wide and serious ramifications. If the referendum goes down it will be one of the most consequential events in the fraught history of relations between the First Nations and the wider community … If the referendum is lost, a new, younger generation may return to the streets with campaigns of direct action.

He predicted that another response would be appeals to the United Nations in Geneva and New York where Australia would find it “had few friends in the erstwhile colonial world”.

Marcia Langton’s response was much the same. A report also in the May 3 edition of the Australian quoted Langton blaming “poverty and exclusion from the economy” as the cause of youth riots in the huge desert areas of Western Australia. “Unless we [the Voice] do something for that area,” she said, “we will have something like an intifada.”

This column appears in Quadrant‘s just-released October edition
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This is serious stuff. An “intifada” is an Arab term for a political uprising. In recent memory, the term was most used to describe intifadas of a very violent kind when Palestinian terrorists attacked Israeli troops and civilians from 1987 to 1993 and from 2000 to 2005. In the second of these uprisings, Palestinians resorted to suicide bombings of civilians. There was a heavy Israeli military response. Overall, the violence caused the deaths of approximately 3000 Palestinians and 1000 Israelis, as well as sixty-four foreigners.

Now, Langton and Reynolds have no fan base of angry teenage youths who might do what they want. Neither of them lecture undergraduates anymore, and the most they could hope for is that their message makes its way through other channels to youths who might take up the call. At most, what they are expressing is what they wish would happen. What they are actually revealing is the degree of hatred they have for the country that has given them all they have.

Down among the younger activists, there are some who actually do compare their position to that of the Palestinians. In 2015, a spokesman for the group Warriors for Aboriginal Resistance, Callum Clayton-Dixon, declared:

Like the Palestinians, Aborigines are an occupied people. Like Israel, Australia is an illegal settler state occupying another people’s land by force. Once we realise these truths, our whole outlook changes—“Australia” is no longer our point of reference in any shape or form.

However, apart from a small number of demonstrations that gridlocked Melbourne city traffic on Friday afternoons, the so-called warriors have not ignited much resistance. Nor have they expressed much anger or fury about the likely loss by the Voice this month.

In 2017, when PM Malcolm Turnbull rejected the Voice proposal, there was no subsequent violence in the streets or anger in the media. Turnbull rejected any concessions that would have privileged Aboriginal people, saying: “all of our national institutions should be open to all Australians, regardless of their race”. There was no great public reaction then or anything resembling an intifada.

Other attempts at this kind of ethnic blackmail have long been a feature of the campaign for constitutional change, so far to no avail. Two members of the “expert panel” appointed by Julia Gillard in 2011 to recognise Aborigines in the Constitution, Marcia Langton and Megan Davis, tried hard to shame Australians into doing what the pair wanted. In an op-ed piece for the Australian on January 21, 2012, they claimed Australia needed constitutional change because there were “racist provisions” in its Constitution which, if not removed, “the loss would brand Australians to the world as racists, and self-consciously and deliberately so”.

However, as a Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of New South Wales, Davis must have known that the only mentions of the word “race” in the Constitution with any connection to Aborigines are in Section 25, designed to prevent states from miscounting Aborigines in elections, and Section 51 (xxvi) which allows the Commonwealth to make laws for “the people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws”. This was a constitutional amendment made in 1967 after Aboriginal lobbyists secured a 91 per cent win for their Yes vote. Until then, all laws on matters relevant to Aborigines were the prerogative of the states. The 1967 amendment’s mention of the word “race” has nothing “racist” about it. All the instrumentalities created by the Commonwealth since 1967, including the myriad of indigenous-only bureaucracies in welfare, health, housing, education and land rights, depend for their existence on the constitutional change made then.

The most likely response to the defeat of the Yes case on October 14 will be what Henry Reynolds predicted above, that is, the Aboriginal political class will renew appeals to the international arena, especially through the United Nations in Geneva and New York. At present, with the state of political and historical debate in both academia and popular culture in the US and UK about the colonisation by settler societies of the Americas and the Pacific, Australia would indeed find, at least in the auditoriums of the UN, it “had few friends in the erstwhile colonial world”.

In the short term, this might be so. Given the appalling historical rubbish now produced by universities in all English-speaking countries, Australians abroad will find they are regarded in “progressive” cultural circles as members of a pariah state, much like South Africa once was. Readers who doubt things are this bad should listen to the speeches of Senator Lidia Thorpe. She gets her ideas, and her unbending confidence, from the anti-settler-society radicals who now preach like her in local university lecture theatres.

The New Zealand Labour government of Jacinda Ardern did its best to support this dishonest interpretation of history by caving in to the political demands of the most radical of its Maori activists. In its support for constitutional change for the Voice, the Albanese government has been running Australia down the same slippery slope. Hopefully, a defeat of the Yes case on October 14 will dampen the enthusiasm of its proponents, but it would be naive to imagine their demands will come to a sudden halt.

Fortunately, 2023 has seen the publication of Nigel Biggar’s powerful defence of the British Empire’s role in civilising and modernising those countries lucky enough to have come under its rule. Quadrant’s May edition this year led with an impressive review by Sydney lawyer Matthew White of Biggar’s Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning. The response from readers was so good we also led our June edition with another review of Biggar, by Saul Kelly, an English historian at King’s College, London. The culture wars in the education system and the media and entertainment industries at last have an adversary too powerful for them to discount.

Since most of the contest for political ideas in Australia in the post-referendum period will be fought out in such a return to the culture and history wars, let me finish with the ambitions behind the Voice and what is really at stake. In Quadrant’s special edition in August, the methods and objectives of the Voice were summarised succinctly and accurately by Michael Green, who wrote:

Make no mistake, the Uluru Statement from the Heart is about creating a constitutionally enshrined indigenous representative body and the supporting governance structures that would amount to a de facto government for a quasi-independent indigenous nation that would have a treaty-governed, co-governance relationship with the Commonwealth of Australia. This referendum is about the very foundations of Australia. Aboriginal leaders know it, and Albanese pretends otherwise. Dutton and his Liberals need to wake up. Albanese is proposing a revolution.


59 thoughts on “Post-Referendum Politics

  • geoff_brown1 says:

    “Warriors of the Aboriginal Hesitance?” They were not a spectacular sucess after 1788!

  • Paul W says:

    It shows how ignorant they are that they believe Palestinian Arabs are indigenous. Israel was the first nation in Canaan. The Commonwealth of Australia is the first nation here.

    • Occidental says:

      You were there then, were you Paul.

      • Paul W says:

        No, I was not. Was I supposed to have been? This does not seem to be relevant – could you explain how it is?

        • rosross says:

          It seems a waste of time and energy to try to make a case that somehow the Palestinians did not exist when we have thousands of years of records, images, painted, drawn, etched, photographed of the land of Palestine and its peoples.

          More so because it was the country of Palestine partitioned in 1947 and mentioned as such by the UN. And, in 1947/48 as Israel was created, the Zionist armies ‘wiped from the face of the earth’ 530 Palestinian towns and villages. We know where they were because they remain marked on British Mandate maps.

          And close to a million Palestinians were driven out in 1947/48 from those towns and villages and many of that number killed.

          So, there is no doubt the Palestinians were there and there is no doubt many remain and others are refugees or scattered in a Diaspora, from 1947 when Israel was created.

          Surely effort is best directed in seeking to resolve this situation based on realities instead of trying to make a case for something which did not and does not exist, i.e. the nonexistence or illegitimacy of the Palestinians.

          Even if the Zionists denied their existence in the claim – a land without people for a people without a land – the UN certainly knew that the people of Palestine existed. And they still exist, only now all of Palestine is under occupation, not just the UN Mandated areas.

          Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve truth, honesty and reason in order to resolve this problem. I have worked with and for Israelis and known some as good friends and they perhaps more even than the Palestinians, need resolution. for the ongoing occupation and continued colonisation of Palestine does not serve them well. The Palestinians existed in 1947 and they still exist and that reality must be addressed.

          Nothing will be solved unless we deal with all truths, particularly the painful ones and we know that from our situation in Australia with aboriginal issues where too many lies, myths, fantasies, stories, fabrications, wishes, dreams have muddied the waters of historical facts and demonstrable truths.

          • Jason Gardner says:

            And what is your “final solution” for the destruction of Israel? That’s what you’re coyly hinting at, isn’t it? Come on, be honest. I laugh at people who on one hand say that Israel is an illegitimate entity, but who won’t be open about their real desire – for a second Holocaust. The fact is, Israel exists. Get over it. If the “Palestinians” wanted a state of their own, they would have long since done what an increasing number of Arab statess are doing now – sat down with the Israelis and worked out a plan for peace. They haven’t because they don’t want peace. They want revenge, and a lot of dead Jews.

    • rosross says:

      The concept of nation is historically recent. Neither Germany or Italy were nation states until the mid 19th century but they had been countries for thousands of years, just like Palestine. If you had told the Germans and Italians they did not exist until they were defined as a nation they would have laughed at you.

      What is ignored in terms of Palestine and the erroneous comparisons with Australia is that yes, Palestine was colonised, or rather, a part of it, in 1947 and since that time the colonists, now called Israelis, have taken all of Palestine and colonise all of Palestine. The core difference with Australia is that the native peoples of the land created through colonisation were made citizens immediately, with rights in law. And they have received apology, reparation and compensation while possessing the same rights as other Australians and even more benefits.

      The Palestinians on the other hand have received nothing. No apology for the wrongs inherent in Israel’s foundation, no reparation, no compensation and they now live under military occupation denied civil and human rights.

      If Australia or any other nation claiming to be a Western democracy did to their native people what Israel does and did to the Palestinian Christians and Muslims, there would be outrage.

      There is no comparison between the treatment of the native peoples of Australia by the British and the treatment of the native peoples of Palestine by the Zionist Israelis.

      • Paul W says:

        Israel was a tribal federation that was formed 3,000 years ago. Its land was invaded and occupied, including by the Arab people. The comparison with Australian Aborigines is erroneous because Israel was the first nation regardless of anything else.

        • rosross says:


          The ancient Hebrew Kingdoms were united by their religion, but, like most kingdoms, often in conflict. The tribes of Judea, Israel and others came out of what is now Iraq and moved into Palestine around 3,000 years ago. They ultimately became tribal kingdoms in Palestine, along with other tribal kingdoms.

          Given the flux of peoples throughout the Middle East, it is hardly surprising that these Hebrew tribal kingdoms were moved on. But religions have no rights to land or homelands. Take Istanbul, founded by the Greeks as Byzantium, but the Greeks have no rights to it and then further established by the Christian Romans as Constantinople. However, neither Christians nor Italians have rights to that city which is in Turkey.

          As to Israel being the first in Palestine to call itself a nation, that does not eradicate the rights of the native peoples, long colonised and still.

          Palestine has existed for five thousand years and the Israeli nation State for just over 70. As I said before, Italy and Germany existed as countries, like Palestine, for thousands of years but did not become nations until the mid 19th century, following the invention of the concept of a nation state.

          The issue is not the existence of UN Mandated Israel but the fact that unlike aboriginal peoples in Australia, the native Palestinians have never had sorry from their colonisers and occupiers, have never had reparation or compensation and Israel has now moved beyond the 47 mandate and occupies all of Palestine, which includes Jerusalem, and continues to colonise it.

          If Israel had done what the British did in Australia and given full citizenship to the native peoples of Palestine it would be a different matter. If Israel had remained within the UN Mandated borders it would be a different matter.

          The point is that the treatment of aboriginal peoples in Australia from 1788 and still, is nothing like the treatment of the native peoples of Palestine from 1947.

          There is no comparison and never was.

          • Paul W says:

            You are right that there is no comparison to Australia.
            But the rest of your comment appears to be an incoherent rant.
            Israel was the first nation in that land. It was not just united by religion (huh?).
            You stated that Palestine has existed for 5,000 years. I’m not certain what you are thinking of: could you give me more information as to this nation?

            • rosross says:

              Not sure what is incoherent and rant is a highly subjective term.

              You said: Israel was the first nation in that land.

              Yes, when UN Mandated Israel was created in 1947. But the concept of nation is historically recent and it does not eradicate the rights of native peoples. Palestine has existed as a country for 5,000 years and we know that because references to it have been transcribed from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. However, even if it were 500 years that Palestine has existed and it certainly has, the rights of the native people are not eradicated by the fact a nation State was set up in Palestine in 1947 called Israel.

              You said: It was not just united by religion (huh?).

              You are correct because it was the Zionists, mostly atheists and therefore not Jewish, who promoted colonising Palestine from the 1890’s. So, the State, set up in the name of Jews and Judaism, was the creation of Zionists, largely atheist, but also supported by fundamentalist Christian Zionists.

              You said: You stated that Palestine has existed for 5,000 years. I’m not certain what you are thinking of: could you give me more information as to this nation?

              It was and is a country for 5,000 years. The concept of nation States is historically recent. There were no nations as we understand that term until recent centuries.

              As I have said twice, neither Germany or Italy were nation States until the mid 19th century but they had been countries for thousands of years, just like Palestine.

              If you want to understand Palestine as a country then read history. It has been written about and painted, drawn and photographed for thousands of years.

              It was a country called Palestine which was partitioned in 1947; where battles were fought in both World Wars; where the Crusades were fought nearly 2,000 years ago; which has been occupied by Egyptians, Romans, Ottomans, British, Israelis and others for much of its history. It was a country called Palestine where Golda Meir addressed a postcard to a friend living in Tel Aviv, Palestine in 1930.

              I am not quite sure why the reality of Palestine’s existence is so hard to grasp. The historical facts are clear.

              • Paul W says:

                Palestine is a name for the territory, that is not hard to grasp. But the name Palestine does not go back 5,000 years. Where did you get this idea.
                The claim is that there is a Palestinian people who are being occupied like the Aborigines. But Israel was the first nation in that land – over 3,000 years ago. You gave a list of empires that have conquered that territory – but Israel is the nation whose territory it originally was. For that reason regardless of any issue in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the comparison is backwards.

                • Occidental says:

                  Paul, my view and I am happy to be proven wrong, is that most people living in Palestine today could probably trace their ancestry back to individuals living there 3, 5, or 10 thousand years ago. Yes many of their ancestors in my view were probably called Israelites then. The Jewish diaspora did not mean that no Jews remained in Judea. Many who were there during the reign of Nero, or Vespasian would have remained after the crushing of the rebellions. When Christianity flourished in the mediteranean many would have converted to the new religion, which was by design very similiar to their own. When the arabs came, again there would have been conversions, after 1300 years it would not be surprising that most though not all of the inhabitants of modern day Palestine are Islamic. The point I am making is that there is no strong historical evidence of the colonisation of Judea or the area of current day Palestine, until the formation of modern Israel. In other words if modern day Palestinians who are predominately Islamic are newcomers to Palestine, what is the evidence as to where they came from?

                  • Paul W says:

                    Most people in Palestine (including Israel) could very probably trace their ancestry to people living there thousands of years ago. But that means tracing your ancestry back to the first nation ever to exist in that land – which is Israel.
                    The indigenous language is Hebrew, which is Israel’s language. Palestinians speak Arabic which is not indigenous. The indigenous religion is the Israelite cult, usually known as Judaism. Palestinians are usually Islamic, but Islam is not indigenous.
                    Therefore, culturally speaking, Israel alone is indigenous. That the foreign culture has spread is certainly the result of colonisation and invasion. This isn’t about someone’s family tree but about why the comparison with Aborigines doesn’t make sense.

                    • Occidental says:

                      Paul good try there to move your initial assertion that “Palestinian arabs” were not indigenous, to a more defensible proposition that their culture and religion is not indigenous.

                  • Paul W says:

                    Occidental, that is the same thing. A people are not separate from their culture – language, religion, etc.
                    The Arabs invaded Israel and conquered it. They murdered men, raped women, enslaved sons, and took daughters as sex slaves. They forcibly converted people to Islam and heavily discriminated against those that didn’t.
                    Naturally mass rape and forced conversions resulted in biological mixing over the 1,000 years they did it. So? That doesn’t make the Arabs in Palestine an indigenous people.
                    If Palestinian Arabs were indigenous, they would seek to preserve their indigenous culture. They don’t, because they aren’t.

                    • Occidental says:

                      Well mass rapes is it? Again were you there? If not, did you read this in Readers Digest? I dont doubt that all the crimes a conquering army can commit, were committed, not just by the Arabs, but also by the Romans, and the Crusaders, but I have never heard of a theory of raping out indigeneity. Paul, it is very simple, most conquered peoples learn a new language and a new religion if the conquerer remains long enough. But it is not easy to kill or exterminate or even drive out a people from their homeland, hence my basic proposition that Palestinians today most probably have numerous ancestors who were at various turns, Canaanites, Jews, Christians and now Muslims, but lived for millennia in the Levant and the region of ancient Judea. They are as indigenous to that area as a full blood aborigine living in central australia is to this continent, no matter what culture or religion he or she has adopted.

                    • Paul W says:

                      The people that were conquered were the people of Israel. Israel was the first nation to exist in that land. It is indigenous. It’s people to this day preserve their indigenous culture. If Palestinians were an indigenous people, they would also try to preserve their indigenous culture. But they don’t. You haven’t given a single example of an indigenous characteristic of Palestinians.
                      You speak in a way which reeks of biological essentialism. If an Arab rapes a Jew, the child is not ‘indigenous’ just because it’s in the family tree. So it’s not ‘raping out indigeneity’.
                      Indigenous refers to an early culture which has the least external reference points. That is ancient Israel.
                      Your suggestion that Arabs in Palestine are like full-blooded Aborigines is totally ludicrous. The Aborigines are indigenous because their culture is not clearly colonial in origin. The Arab culture in Palestine is. It’s not a matter of ancestry, which is a misunderstanding you have picked up from Australia.
                      The Palestinians are not ancient Israelites with a funky new language and a mosque in place of a synagogue. This is a different people. If they were deep-down the same, then why do we see no indication of affection for their indigenous origins?

                • rosross says:

                  Since the word Palestine and the word Palestinians has been transcribed from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs from 5,000 years ago, very clearly the name Palestine does go back that far. And since they have also transcribed a note mentioning the arrival of a tribe called Judea into Palestine 3,000 years ago, we know that Palestine had existed for 2,000 years before Hebrews/Jews arrived.

                  However, since religions do not get rights to land it makes little difference. Conflating the situation in Palestine with the situation in Australia helps no-one and is devoid of reason.

                  Palestinians have not been occupied as Aboriginal peoples were in 1788 because aboriginal peoples were made citizens with rights in law very quickly. The Palestinians remain under occupation and have no rights.

                  Since the concept of nation is historically recent you cannot call tribal kingdoms thousands of years ago nations. They were certainly not States. They rose and fell. Take the Mercian kingdom in England which no longer exists.

                  The fact that there were Jewish kingdoms in Palestine 3,000 years ago means as much as the fact that followers of Minerva founded London. Religions do not get rights to land or rights to self-determination. If one did then all would.

                  And surely what matters is now? As we know from the silliness surrounding the aboriginal issue, the past is historically interesting but it is what we are doing now which matters. The descendants of aboriginal peoples have been citizens with rights in law since the British arrived. Most Palestinians have no rights since Israel was created in 1947. They remain under occupation and continued colonisation, because, as you and others claim, the fact some Jews lived in Palestine 3,000 years ago gives them rights eternal to that land and disenfranchises all others because they are not Jews.

                  That claim has echoes with the ridiculous claim that because those with aboriginal ancestry can trace some of their ancestry back further, they have superior rights to Australia. Such a claim is not legal, not just, not democratic and is a betrayal of the human rights of Australians without aboriginal ancestry.

                  As does the claim that because Jews set up camp in Palestine thousands of years ago, they have superior and eternal rights to it. How could they if Christians do not have the same rights to any place some Christians once lived? Humanity has been in flux for millennia with peoples moving constantly. And regardless of our religion or indeed lack of religion, every human alive today shares a relatively small group of common distant ancestors. We are all one. That is what democracy represents and requires, that religions be secondary to citizenship.

                  My question to you remains, if Australia, Canada, NZ or the US treated the native people of the lands they colonised today, as Israel treats the Palestinians, what would be the reaction?

                  • Paul W says:

                    I understand your criticism of the word nation in this context but it is still correct. Ancient Israel was a federation of tribes that established a central government. That culture is extremely early and produced the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew language is the one of the first recorded languages there. It is an indigenous culture. Those with no cultural connection to Ancient Israel can’t be indigenous.
                    Indigenous peoples always seek to preserve the indigenous culture. If the Palestinian people held themselves to be indigenous despite speaking Arabic and being Muslims, they would promote this culture. But they aren’t interested in Ancient Hebrew, or the Bible, or in the Israelite religion. Because they aren’t indigenous. Their people are the occupiers. That is why the comparison to Aborigines is wrong.

                    • rosross says:

                      @Paul W,

                      Many countries had federations of tribes and like the Jews, often linked by religion. However, none of that thousands of years in the past gives anyone rights today.

                      Your position seems to be that a federation of Hebrew or Judaic tribes, counts for something today and it does not. From my reading they were kingdoms often at war with each other. But to run with your claim.

                      Hebrew was/is the language of Judaism, which the Zionists took up as the national language for Israel in a bid to increase Jewish support. Latin was/is to some degree, the language of Catholicism. None of that makes a nation or a people beyond religious metaphor. Israel exists as a nation but the Palestinians also deserve their freedom as a nation.

                      Much that you say is religious teaching as opposed to historical fact and that has no credence in a court of law.

                      In fact the term First Nations, now wrongly used in Australia, was applied in the 19th century to a confederation of American Indian Tribes. They were not linked by religion but, by your criteria, that group has greater and prior rights to the United States than all the rest who cannot claim them as ancestors. That is a foolish premise.

                      The Palestinians are the native people of Palestine and what became Israel in the 1947 Mandate. Some Palestinian Christians and Muslims became Israeli citizens but they do not have the same rights as Jewish Israelis.

                      You said: . But they aren’t interested in Ancient Hebrew, or the Bible, or in the Israelite religion.

                      And that is because they are followers of other religions, i.e. Christianity and Islam.

                      But your position is that a religion, in this case Judaism, has prior rights to a country because some followers of the religion set up camp there 3,000 years ago.

                      Religions do not get rights to land so there is no substance to your position. If one religion had such rights to land and self-determination then all religions would have the same right. And logic would suggest the right would apply to the land where their religion began. In the case of Jews that would be what is now Iraq and in the case of Christians it would be Palestine. But, religions have no such rights.

                      Do you really think it is fair, let alone possible, to disenfranchise and dispossess people from their ancient land because, as you have suggested, they belong to the wrong religion? In a modern world of course not. That is the point of democracy where citizenship and the State are above religions.

                      The British were enlightened in 1788 in making the native peoples of the land they began to settle, citizens. Unfortunately that was the opposite of what the Zionists intended and that is Israel’s tragedy. To be fair to the Zionists, their colonial project was put in place in a time when many considered Arabs to be inferior. It was similar to the attitude in South Africa and that could not and did not last.

                      Being an occupier and military coloniser debases those who do it. That is Israel’s other tragedy and given the optimism with which Israel was created in 1947, a terrible disappointment for many Jews.

                      But, we agree, there is no comparison with aboriginal peoples in Australia.

    • rosross says:

      Arab is a culture and generally means those who speak Arabic.

      Egyptologists have transcribed ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs talking about Palestine and Palestinians, who invaded them more than once, some 5,000 years ago. They also made a note when a tribe called Judea wandered into Palestine and set up camp about 3,000 years ago.

      Surely in our modern world, particularly in those nations calling themselves democracies, we should be able to separate religion from the State and citizenship and be multicultural and multi-religious societies where all have the same rights?

      We should also be able to separate our citizens from longevity status, where people claim greater rights because they can or believe they can, trace their association with the land back further. This is the most racist component of the aboriginal industry movement.

      In a civilized world, no-one should be discriminated against for any reason. We all share the same distant ancestors and we all came out of Africa and should work to unite, not to divide on the basis of anything, race, culture, religion, nationality …..nothing.

  • lbloveday says:

    Kenny’s Weekend Australian rant is headed:
    If you’d still like to read it and don’t have access, try:

    • rosross says:

      It says a lot if Kenny thinks winning a boat race is the same as enshrining in our Constitution greater rights and power for some Australians based purely on the fact they can trace some of their ancestry back further, or at least believe they can.

  • lbloveday says:

    I did look at the comments – this one has received no likes or ACCEPTED replies to date:
    Well said, Chris.

    Your ongoing argument whilst clearly seeing the sea of sewerage of many who are against you in the hard right is noble and brave. What are they all afraid of..? To vote No is to cave inwards.. to recede..

    My respect for you during this campaign has heightened dramatically.
    My reply:
    And so say none of us!
    is 99.9% sure to be REJECTED

    • March says:

      This was my rejected comment on Kenny’s article. Talk about thin skinned, they are getting worse than the ABC…

      “Arguments scrapping the bottom of the barrel now. Look at the polls – it’s seems everyone is waking up to how bad an idea this is…. except Chris. Or are we all deplorables? Vote No.”

      Story: Like the America’s Cup, the voice can unite the nation
      Your comment is in breach of our commenting guidelines and cannot be published at this time.

      • lbloveday says:

        Mine was accepted. Now I know how to get published – write trite!

        • Occidental says:

          Generally the shorter your comments the more likely to be published, as longer comments are a little challenging for the moderators. Moreover if you get a few “rejecteds” then all your comments are subject to closer scrutiny. The good thing with the voice, is that atleast on the Oz website, I dont need to swim against the tide. Even if my comments are rejected there are so many others that domget through, it hardly matters.

  • NarelleG says:

    Thank you Keith.
    Shared widely.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    Very well put, Keith. However, regardless of how peacefully disappointed Yes voters behave, the war will go on ad nauseam, at both Federal and State Level, unless a serious push back occurs. And it would have to start with the Coalition parties developing an Aboriginal policy a) designed solely to eliminate or remove dysfunction and b) totally repudiate the Aboriginal sovereignty agenda.

    • Botswana O'Hooligan says:

      Great suggestion Peter because for too long the ordinary man on the street hasn’t had more than perhaps a vague idea of what extras an aboriginal person receives in goods and services over and above the amount the rest of us receive. This deluge of propaganda from the Albenese government and companies as in Qantas et al has at last started to bring some of those goods, services, and of course the money into the light of day and a policy that makes us all equal where government assistance is given be we of any race, colour, or creed, would be welcome. Problem is that it will never happen any time soon.

    • rosross says:

      As Senator Price has said, we should be working toward a day when there is no Minister for Indigenous Affairs. The separation is racist and clearly achieves nothing.

      But, given the brainwashing of those with aboriginal ancestry, particularly the poor struggling kids and young people, there may well be violence. They believe they are victims and real or imagined, when people are oppressed in reality or just believe they are oppressed, they will fight and often resort to violence.

      But, whatever challenges we face, a No vote is better than a Yes, regardless of outcomes.

    • Michael says:

      JNP has outlined that approach.

    • John C says:

      True Peter. The weak Albanese’s weakest argument for a referendum Yes vote was “Aboriginal people have asked for it.” What about saying No, it’s against the interests of the whole nation, as PM Turnbull said forthrightly in 2017? That’s what a national leader should do. We seem to have lost confidence and conviction since 2017.

  • wdr says:

    It will be interesting to see, assuming that the Referendum is defeated, what “moderate” supporters have to say, for instance Albo & Co., if the radicals make threats, as well they might. Anything could happen; we are sailing in the dark. I don’t think this will go well with the Left. Albo will be denounced in the ALP for his monumental error of judgment in proposing this referendim and then not backing it to the hilt n

  • rosross says:

    Anyone who threatens violence is to be condemned. The association with Palestinians for Australians with aboriginal ancestry, code name indigenous, is ridiculous.

    The British did not reject the native peoples of this land because they were other, they embraced them and gave them citizenship. The Israelis, while welcoming all Arab Palestinian Jews into the UN Mandated State, thereby demonstrating they had no problem with Arabs or Palestinians, just Christians and Muslims, have done the opposite.

    Whether 100% aboriginal in ancestry or less than 1%, Australians with such ancestry have rights, powers and benefits of which the Palestinians can only dream.

    If Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the US had done to their native peoples what Israel does to the Palestinians and has done for more than seventy years, there would be outrage.

    It is unfair to Australia and to Israel to conflate two totally separate and completely different issues.

  • padmmdpat says:

    If poverty is the cause of violence amongst aboriginal youths, what happens to the billions of dollars allocated to aborigines each year by the federal government?

    • Rossini says:

      Excellent question. Where has all the money gone?

    • rosross says:

      Poverty is not the cause of violence. It can be but mostly violence is cultural. I lived in India for many years and saw parents send their children to school every day in clean clothes. They managed to do that in true slums, bits of hessian and corrugated iron, dirt floors and no Government funding. Because they wanted to do it.

      I lived in four African countries for decades and saw parents in villages do the same, where schools existed that is, and again, in true poverty. In India and Africa the poor can only dream of the money, benefits, support that is given to aboriginal communities.

      The violence and dysfunction comes not from poverty but from a mendicant mentality arising from generational welfare and victim mentalities.

      • mrsfarley2001 says:

        And from primitive Aboriginal so-called “culture” which is violent to weaker individuals. There is absolutely no excuse left for them.

        • rosross says:

          Yes and the records abound with the aboriginal way of fighting which was to take weaker groups by surprise and to avoid face-on confrontations in general and those which represented a challenge in particular. Attacking women, children, babies and the old was the modus operandi. No doubt quite sensible but also the reason why there were no wars by any real military definition.

          From what I have read their approach to fighting was akin to the sit-down money approach and the general aboriginal tendency to take the course of least resistance, or, in essence, the easy way. Which no doubt is why they had such high rates of infanticide in order to ‘manage’ food resources in relation to human needs.

  • Stephen Due says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading the debate between PaulW, rosross et al. Some points follow…
    The Bible shows that God told the Israelites that an area resembling the territory that the Jewish state currently occupies was the land that He had promised them. God also commanded the Israelites to invade that territory and drive out or exterminate the inhabitants. In this they were only partially successful. Going by biblical and later evidence, the Jews have never been the sole occupants of the Promised Land and were certainly not the first.
    Secondly, the setting up of the Jewish state in Palestine after WW2 was evidently a ‘solution’ to problems of the balance of power in this historically fraught area – a solution that suited the Allies at the time. Obviously there was by then an extensive Jewish diaspora, and for many the Jewish state represented a place of refuge of considerable historical, cultural and religious significance.
    It is ironic that the establishment of the Israeli state as a safe haven for the persecuted race has resulted in a whole new era of hatred directed towards the Jews. While Arab states have sworn to annihilate the Israelis, intellectuals in the West have suddenly discovered the glories of Arab civilisation, with its noble tradition of conquest and slaughter. It seems the Arabs were actually the inventors of just about everything worthwhile from mathematics to embryology and beyond. Not only that, but the sophisticated Arabs, when not cutting throats, thoughtfully preserved the enlightened, classical traditions of Greece and Rome, while the West descended for centuries into the ignorance and superstition of Christianity,
    How fortunate we are to have an entire continent to ourselves! Not even the United States has that luxury. It is astonishing to me that Australians and their governments waste their time on such ludicrous crusades as the campaign to eradicate biological sex in humans, and the equally futile determination to control global climate by giving every household a yellow recycling bin, and forcing everyone to have an electric stove. The Voice referendum is in the same category – a ludicrous, ill-conceived, wasteful piece of virtue-signaling.
    The Devil makes work for idle hands. It looks like the next step is going to be some ghastly system of government interference based on facial recognition technology.

    • rosross says:

      Well said.

      My understanding was that the strength of democracy and civil law was that religions became personal and not a State issue, at least in the Western world. This meant all citizens were equal and there was no superior status because of religious affiliation. It seems a very sensible idea given the problems that religions can create. And also because the religious teachings, stories, myths, ‘history’ is only relevant to followers and is generally meaningless to those who belong to other religions. The God of Judaism is important to Jews and what he supposedly said or did is particular only to the religion. Understanding of course the links between Judaism, Christianity and Islam in terms of religious teachings.

      From what I can see having studied a few religions, including Judaism, the problem with all of them is that teachings are interpreted literally when they were meant to be taken as metaphor. This is not surprising in a rationalist, left-brain leaning age which has been present in the past few thousand years. It has however created many problems.

      The literalisation of the religious entity called Israel in 1947 was in fact opposed by orthodox Jews for such reasons. And quite a few Orthodox Jews still reject Zionism and its State. However, such matters are for followers and should not be imposed upon others as has happened in Palestine.

      I imagine most would be appalled if the US, which calls itself a Christian State and believes it is led by God, the Christian God, gave preferential treatment to Christians. Such discrimination has no place in a modern democracy.

      Just as Israel must find a way to be a true democracy so Australians at this point in history must protect their democracy from another form of discrimination, i.e. ancestral longevity.

      The voice is sourced in a belief that having aboriginal ancestry not only makes people other, it makes them superior and that betrays democracy. To elevate any group to a position of having superior rights to the land and the country, which is what the voice would do, is simply undemocratic.

      However much it may seem like a good idea to some and however noble the intentions might appear to some, this division of Australia into first and second, superior and inferior, better and worse is destructive, divisive and just plain nasty. It also betrays the principles of human rights and justice which developed in the Western world and which have underpinned its integrity. We lose such principles at our peril regardless of how well-meant we may be.

      It is not enough to want to do good or to right some wrong, real or imagined, when it is the core principles which enable our stability and our integrity which are being discarded. We need to consider the good of all and strive to implement not so much what appears to be right but what is just and sensible. 

      The principle of equality for all, regardless of race, creed, gender and the historically recent one, ancestral connection to the land, is an important one and we betray it at our peril.

    • rosross says:

      While academia is prone to addictions, it is a reality that the Arabs in their time were an impressive civilization. Given prejudice toward Arabs in the past, perhaps a little balancing of the scales is due.

  • pmprociv says:

    Sadly, Keith, I fully agree with your concerns. But there’s going to be mayhem, perhaps of a different kind, even if the Yes mob prevails in the forthcoming referendum. As for your: “The most likely response to the defeat of the Yes case . . . is, the Aboriginal political class will renew appeals to the international arena, especially through the United Nations in Geneva and New York”, of course, that will be all funded by the taxpayer (even if Qantas provides them with free business class tickets). Alice in Wonderland stuff — but such has become the world we now inhabit.

  • Sandra Worrall-Hart says:

    Thank you Keith, and everyone. This has been absolutely fascinating and most informative.

  • bollux says:

    About time we stopped being nice. To the victor the spoils.

    • rosross says:


      Surely the problem is that people want nice when what is needed is just, fair and sensible and that is what British and later Australian Governments have been. Nice, as an aunt of mine often said, is a terrible word which means pink, sticky, sweet.

      If our Constitution is to be amended we do not want nice at work, we want just, fair, sensible, constitutional, democratic and legal.

  • Paul W says:

    Proceeding on the basis that Palestinians claim to be indigenous but that their language, Arabic, is not, we can consider why their claim is erroneous.
    If indigenous people change languages, that does not mean that they suddenly lose all traces of the indigenous language. We would expect evidence that such a language existed.
    If Palestinians were indigenous, we would expect some of the following:
    1. influence on Arabic vocabulary
    2. influence on Arabic accent
    3. use of the original language in public monuments or inscriptions
    4. use in ceremonies or religious services
    5. teaching in schools etc
    6. modification of writing systems to accommodate the needs of the community
    7. general cultural promotion and historical memory
    8. persecution of indigenous-language speakers
    Do we see any of these in Palestinian society? No. Palestinians appear to be the only indigenous people in the world to have erased all evidence of their indigenous language. They never use it or promote it, it hasn’t influenced their current language and culture. It’s like they never had an indigenous language.
    The claim that people can be indigenous and still adopt a new language is simply inadequate. There doesn’t appear to have actually ever been such a language!
    Two examples:
    1. The majority of English words are Latin and Greek to origin. This is in large part due to the French invasion of England in 1066. Only 25% of English words are indigenous. It also changed English speech. Why did such a mixed language never occur in Palestine?
    2. The Ancient Egyptian language survived until the 1700s. Egyptian Christians use it still in their church services. But in daily life they speak Arabic and Christianity is not indigenous to Egypt. Why did Palestinians fail to do similar?
    The simplest explanation is that Palestinians aren’t an indigenous people. They are entirely Arab in origin. They have not adopted a new language: they never had an earlier one.

    • rosross says:

      Indigenous is not something which applies to language. The simple reality is that there were people living in Palestine when Israel was created in 1947. There are still refugees holding keys to homes in which their family lived for a thousand years. That is pretty indigenous by any reckoning.

      In terms of language, as I am sure you know, they evolve, change and sometimes disappear. Languages which are used religiously are more likely to endure, i.e. Latin, Hebrew and Sanskrit for example.

      The Zionists no doubt specifically chose Hebrew as the national language for their State called Israel, as opposed to Yiddish, because Hebrew provided a strong link to Judaism which the generally atheist Zionists needed. The fact that some Jews remained in Palestine speaking Hebrew over centuries, means no more than that some Christians remained in Palestine over thousands of years speaking Latin or Greek.

      Most nations do not speak the same languages used thousands of years ago. Including the British. So the disappearance of languages is hardly exceptional.

      It is clear it is important to you to attempt to prove Palestinians are not indigenous to Palestine but the historical facts defy those attempts.

      We know a country called Palestine was partitioned in 1947 against the will of most of the people living there, who were called, not surprisingly, Palestinians.

      We know many if not most could trace ancestry back for centuries if not a thousand years and more. That is very indigenous.

      We also know that 530 Palestinian towns and villages were ‘wiped from the face of the earth’in 1947/48 and the inhabitants driven out, close to a million with hundreds of thousands killed.

      So, there is no way of erasing the fact that people called Palestinians lived in Palestine when the Israeli State was created and that they had ancestry which traced back for thousands of years. Some of those people would have been Jews but most were Christians and Muslims. The irony of course is that the Palestinians are more Semitic as people than many of the colonists who became Israelis. And some even argue that originally some of them were Jewish.

      Your argument regarding language does not hold water. Surely in the modern world we should be able to drag ourselves above them and us, this religion or that religion and come together as citizens in one nation regardless of ancestral longevity.

  • John Daniels says:

    There are the claims and counter claims but the Body Count has been Telling !

    It has not been an Eye for an Eye , or a Tooth for a Tooth .
    The military power of Israel has allowed this corruption to happen .

    Talk that historical ties to 2000 years ago justify what the Zionists have done to the Palestinians since the creation of the State of Israel is just a nonsense in my opinion which I think is shared by many people around the world .

    • rosross says:

      I have followed this issue for decades and from what I can see, in comment threads, the percentages have reversed. Twenty years ago it was 80% in favour of Israel and 20% in favour of the Palestinians and now it is the other way around. In addition, more Jews are taking a stand, particularly in the US. As they should given it is all done in their name.

      From my perspective it is a matter of principle and perhaps having Jewish ancestors, along with those from a dozen other religions, I find it offensive that I could apply for and get citizenship in Israel and a Palestinian Muslim or Christian could not.

      However, in very simple terms, in this modern age and particularly for any nation calling itself a Western democracy, as Israel does, its treatment of the native people of the land it has colonised is untenable. The simple reality is that Israel has not remained within UN Mandated borders but now occupies and continues to colonise all of Palestine while denying human and civil rights to those it holds under occupation. As a matter of justice and human rights the Palestinians are in the right and seeking to justify Israel’s actions as occupier, coloniser and apartheid State demeans all who do it and debases Judaism and Jews.

      The tragedy for Judaism and its followers is that Zionism has exploited them and betrayed the best intentions of many of the earliest Israeli colonists. Younger generations, including Jews, either do not know or do not care about the complex reasons which underpinned the creation of Israel, they just know the situation today is wrong and has been wrong since 1947.

      One can only hope for the sake of Israelis even more than Palestinians that an Israeli De Klerk emerges.

  • SimonBenson says:

    Albanese has staked his prime ministership and his government on the alleged ‘voice’ succeeding. If it fails, both he and his government need to go. It is nothing short of criminal for a federal government to waste so much taxpayer money and so many taxpayer-funded resources on an idea that would turn the clock back on our multicultural society and turn all that has been achieved in terms of the things that, as John Howard put it, “unite, rather than divide us” on its head. The voice proposal is a scandal and a con on the average Australian. If stared down at this alleged referendum by the Australian public, Albanese and his government have no legitimacy to continue in government. I pray that a Dutton-led conservative government will do what the ALP never does well and is never interested in doing well: focus on the basics and leave the giddy business of ideology where it belongs: in the academy of dunces. Our federal government has no legitimate constitutional interest in pursuing ideological pipe dreams. Its only legitimacy is to do what amounts to “good government” for all Australians, not one segment of the population based solely on race. And even then, where what would constitute that ‘race’ legally would remain undefined. The vitriolic, deceitful and racist documents behind the Ayer’s Rock statement reveal that the voice is not and never has been about ‘evening the score’. I sat in the next booth to Dodson & Co in a Broome cafe in 2017 and I heard from the horse’s mouth then what this is all about. And it’s about nothing short of creating a separate Aboriginal polity with its own sovereignty that will tear this country apart. Make no mistake. The voice is not about and has never been about uniting Australians and bringing people on the outer into the fold. As ever, it is about separate sovereignty and money in the form of compensation. The voice is the politics of the inextinguishable grievance par excellence. And it is based on deceit and lies. It is a false narrative that does not withstand scrutiny. If the voice is voted on and succeeds, it will be the best evidence yet that this country has become a confederacy of dunces. As a nation, we have lurched to the left. But surely we are not so stupid and naive to be led as far to the left as our ideologue PM Albanese would dearly love to think he can take us. Of course, support for the voice is just lip service. Anyone who thinks the voice has any legitimacy whatsoever is really saying all they own they have stolen from Aboriginal people and none of us non-Aboriginals have any right to be here on stolen ground. Well, if you believe all that, sign over all you own and quit these shores now. Anything less shows you are nothing more than a fraud. But, no. Voice supporters would never give up their patch of dirt they’ve worked hard for. Nor will they leave. In the secret court of the hearts of all pro-voice supporters, they are not willing to give up a single piece of all they have for anyone.

  • Paul.Harrison says:

    It would embolden me if sanity prevails in my ‘poor fella’ country, and those sitting opposite in the House of Representatives move a vote of no confidence in this Government to force a double-dissolution election. Does anybody know who owns the GG?

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