Aborigines

Giving Voice to the Wrong Question

The laws that affect all Australians are voted in by two bodies – the House of Representatives and the Senate – and both must agree to the laws. Each electorate in Australia gets a 1-in-151 say in the vote of the House of Representatives, and each state gets a 12-in-76 say in the vote of the Senate.  Territories, with their small populations, get a 2-in-76 say in the Senate vote. Although not perfect, the process ensures that different groups in the community can elect people to represent them, and that politicians generally try to seek balanced outcomes.

The proposed Aboriginal Voice to Parliament will become an additional gatekeeper in that process, representing only the interests of Aboriginals and Aboriginal activists. It will be like having a lobby group from the mining industry or the tech industry approving and rejecting legislation. The potential for rorting, corruption and fatal damage to our democracy is huge.

After former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had the temerity to identify the Voice for what it is — a third chamber in our parliament — activists have been keen to downplay concern. For example, first nations claimant Professor Peter Yu of the ANU complains that

We know what the case against us will be. … that it would contradict a principle of liberal democracy if one defined group should have a constitutional role in the workings of parliament. [1]

In seeking to address this problem, Yu actually confirms Turnbull’s interpretation. Yu dismisses the existing Constitution as being racist and states that

First Nations Australians must take control … The constitution that federated the Australian nation was anything but democratic … It was a founding document for the governing of white-settler Australia.

The Voice campaign is artfully framed to be concerned only with legislation that affects Aboriginals, but that is misleading, because all legislation affects Aboriginal people. As historian Keith Windschuttle points out in The Break-up of Australia, the Voice’s modest-seeming remit would cover everything that manages the lives of Australians. [2] The proposed Voice to Parliament is not really a voice at all. A voice leaves the prerogative to act with the listener. This Voice will be a fist.

Why would Aboriginal politicians be better? The core claim of the Voice campaign is that only Aboriginal politicians can fix the problems of Aboriginal disadvantage. That contradicts the entire basis of Western democracy and administration, which chooses managers based on their expertise and qualifications, not their race.

What’s more, the evidence does not support the claim.  Aboriginal-run townships generally suffer the worst problems, as evidenced at Wadeye [3],  Aurukun [4] and Yuendumu. Not only do women and children suffer, but people trying to help, such as teachers and nurses, feel unsafe and leave. In Canberra itself, Aboriginal activists and their supporters started a fire at Old Parliament House [5] and, before that, organised a mob that threatened then prime minister Julia Gillard. [6]

Impact on the arts, media and scholarship

Sydney University’s Fisher Library recently moved to ban works on Aboriginal issues not approved by Aboriginal groups. Many community libraries seem to have informally adopted similar bans.

Given that the Aboriginal movement wants and seeks such bans, it is almost certain that the Voice would be used to formalise that approach throughout Australia. From there, it would be a small move to apply similar restrictions to the media, and perhaps to PhD dissertations.

In the arts, there have been attempts to exclude non-Aboriginal artists from using designs associated with traditional Aboriginal art, and to stop non-Aboriginals from writing about Aboriginal experiences. Those attempts fizzled in the face of opposition from artists and writers, but they would return if they enjoy the legislative backing of the Voice.

Impact on Australian society

Given the insistence that Aboriginal tribes are nations and have sovereignty, it is likely they would move to gain administrative rights including, eventually, the right to issue visas and customise the tax laws for “Aboriginal” corporations. [6] Such moves would undermine our visa and tax laws, and facilitate tax avoidance by multinationals.

Aboriginal people already have many special rights, including the rights to enter restricted areas and hunt and fish, and to kill protected species. The rationale for those rights is weak given that the hunting and fishing is done with 4WDs, rifles and petrol-engined boats, and that Aborigines are no longer hunter-gatherer societies.

Most of the rights are state-based and could be revoked if our society chooses. The Voice would almost certainly be used to entrench and extend such rights. Indeed, that may be one of the unstated drivers for the Voice campaign.

At the same time, Aboriginal groups are restricting parts of our country from access by other people. To date that has included parts of Uluru, climbing areas in the Grampians [7] and a walking track at Wollumbin in northern New South Wales. [8]

Obstructing the economy

Expanding lists of alleged Indigenous sites also poses a challenge for farmers, other private land holders and governments. When Western Districts farmer Adrian McMaster moved some rocks on his farm, he was condemned by Aboriginal activists who alleged the rocks were part of a traditional site.[9] Victorian government authority Aboriginal Victoria moved to investigate McMaster, who commissioned an independent report and has launched defamation proceedings.

When Victoria sought to widen a road in the west of the state, Aboriginal groups blocked work for two years in defence of what they described as a sacred ‘birthing tree’ and added $60 million to the cost. [10]

Aboriginal languages are becoming more prominent, even though most are dead languages and had no body of written work. It is likely the Voice would designate some Aboriginal languages as official languages for parts of government, and perhaps even court cases, adding to administrative costs and introducing barriers to participation for 99 percent of the population.

If the Anthony Albanese and his government really want to introduce a referendum, it should ask Australians whether we want a respectful society of equals or a parliament where legislation is held hostage by a race-based Third Chamber.

 

References

[1] Peter Yu, “Anything but democratic, the constitution excluded my people”, SMH, June 10, 2022 https://www.smh.com.au/national/anything-but-democratic-the-constitution-excluded-my-people-20220608-p5asc1.html

[2] Keith Windschuttle, The Break-up of Australia: The Real Agenda Behind Aboriginal Recognition, Quadrant Books, 2016 https://quadrant.org.au/product/hidden-agenda-aboriginal-sovereignty/

[3]  Rohan Smith, Violence out of control in outback town of Wadeye, home to 22 clan groups, News Ltd, May 02, 2022, https://www.news.com.au/national/northern-territory/violence-out-of-control-in-outback-town-of-wadeye-home-to-22-clan-groups/news-story/e9106e52ce0e1d9d240ffbb8f51d1601

[4] Rohan Smith, Aurukun principal attacked for second time in two weeks as spotlight shines on ‘neglected’ community, News Ltd, May 23, 2016 https://www.news.com.au/national/queensland/top-end-community-where-women-brawl-in-front-of-police-has-been-let-down-by-the-system/news-story/354ab240b71f37cdfc673eb31fd864ea

[5] Keith Windschuttle, The Violent Politics of Australia Day, Quadrant, Jan 9, 2022 https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/aborigines/2022/01/the-violent-politics-of-australia-day   

[6] Keith Windschuttle, The Voice on ‘Invasion Day’, Jan 26, 2021 https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/bennelong-papers/2021/01/the-voice-on-invasion-day/    

[7]  Calla Wahlquist, Grampians rock-climbing ban: Indigenous group says heritage is ‘non-negotiable’, The Guardian, July 2, 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jul/02/grampians-rock-climbing-ban-could-be-softened-if-cultural-heritage-respected

[8] Dwayne Grant, Future of popular NSW walking track through sacred site in doubt, The Guardian, March 26, 2022 https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/mar/26/future-of-popular-nsw-walking-track-through-sacred-site-in-doubt-after-floods

[9] David Estcourt, Sacred ground: Dispute over Aboriginal landmark pits landowner against journalist, musician, The Age, April 17, 2022 https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/sacred-ground-dispute-over-aboriginal-landmark-pits-landowner-against-journalist-musician-20220414-p5adfo.html

[10] Timna Jacks, Fight over sacred trees on Western Highway cost $60m, watchdog says, The Age, July 30, 2020 https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/fight-over-sacred-western-highway-trees-has-cost-60m-watchdog-says-20200730-p55gwz.html

11 comments
  • Michael

    The whole tenor of the Uluru Statement of the Heart, including Voice enshrined in the Constitution, is to entrench in perpetuity a special status, and special rights, for a group of Australians defined by their ancestry and supposedly on the basis of their ancestral connection to the land. It is a complete anathema to a modern, liberal democracy such as Australia. I will never support the voice being enshrined in the Constitution. No way, No!

  • PT

    Oh the irony!

    Labor and the left rail against the racism of Anglo Australia (most hypocritically in the case of Labor), slam Britain, and particularly the House of Lords and all this “hereditary privilege” (particularly the monarchy). And yet they are proposing to institutionalise a House of Lords here. And unlike the original House of Lords, it is impossible for new members to be introduced unless they are of the favoured race!

    I think most of these idiots (and I do not use that term lightly) have simply not thought it through.

    I think much of this comes back to Coombes and his strategy in the ‘70’s. Have a “treaty” which gives 10% of the GDP to aboriginals (not sure how Coombes squared that with his “up the workers, light on the hill” agenda, given that aboriginals would then become the idle privileged class/caste). But at least we “got something”, in that they’d sign an Act of cessation! Namely they’d surrender sovereignty to the Commonwealth! Just a ploy in the 1970’s. But have you ever heard them talk about formally saying Canberra has sovereignty and they’d acknowledge it in recent times?

    A sovereign political order has the right to conclude treaties with other sovereign states. What’s to stop the “Voice” from concluding a Treaty with the Chinese? Or any of the “sovereign bodies” from doing so?

    Political tactics are fast becoming “rights” which “cannot be compromised”. What else are activists going to invent which will soon be uncompromisable?

  • rosross

    Firstly, Aborigines were never one race and certainly are not today. From 350-500 groups, descended from different waves of migration and colonisation, without a common language and often no common language source, we now have thousands of variations on those themes with intermarriage and most Australians with Aboriginal Ancestry, even beyond any tribal differences, are more Anglo-European than anything else.

    And since modern genetics says there are no races with less than 1% difference between what we once called races, the term race has no relevance.

    There never was an Aboriginal people as any sort of unified group and there most certainly is not today. Familial and tribal differences mean that even in communities, agreement is rarely reached, so it is delusional to think there could be one voice for every Australian with Aboriginal ancestry, ranging from 100%, not many of those, to less than 1%.

    And why should one small group of Australians get more voice and extra voting rights? It is racist and it is undemocratic.

  • Doubting Thomas

    This outrageous scam is not being driven by Aborigines who, to the extent they are involved at all, are being “agitated” by the usual suspects, ie the predominantly white radical leftists whose only aim is to disrupt society and to destroy democracy. If the gullible enable them to succeed in this campaign, the radicals will move on to the next part of that underlying campaign with nary a backward glance at Aboriginal problems.
    We’ve already heard mutterings about “voices” for other minority ethnic and religious groups. The potential for radical mischief is almost infinite once this political “dyke” is breached, and exploit it to unforeseeable limits these parasites inevitably will with little if any concern for the real interests of their chosen “host” group.

  • STD

    Good comments all round, great insight as usual DT.
    The bottom line is that they want to destroy Australia, the left want to break Australia up and marginalise the Caucasian’s.
    The left want a welfare republic , just as much as the Chinese Communist Party want the rest of the world to be dependant on them.
    Native title is just another form of socialist land acquisition .

  • DougD

    “The core claim of the Voice campaign is that only Aboriginal politicians can fix the problems of Aboriginal disadvantage.” Aboriginals only owe fidelity to the members of their kin group. Isn’t that why corruption and nepotism destroyed ATSIC? That is not a one-off. It is being repeated in numerous indigenous corporations in which powerful families control, to the exclusion of other Aboriginals, millions of dollars of mining royalties and government payments eg in South Australia, Kakadu and the Pilbara. Why will the Voice be different?

  • 27hugo27

    Well two can play this game : how about not allowing aboriginals to incorporate any western images in their artwork, and further, no access to western medicine and technology. If they want to talk the talk, then walk the walkabout.

  • Petronius

    If descendents of the Aboriginal political class claim the land was invaded and stolen, and repeat the mantra ‘Always Was, Always Will Be Aboriginal Land’, why would they want to have anything to do with the British-derived Australian Constitution? Unless it is only a step to deconstruct and destroy it root and branch. What we might have here is an exercise in bad faith.

  • abrogard

    To dispense with delicacy we all know what it all is: a scam. Pure and simple.
    And we know there’s no blackfellows any more, too.
    And we know that those who are closest to still being blackfellows don’t give a damn about all this nonsense.
    And we all know that those ‘activists’ that most strenuously promote all this do it for their own sakes for it gives them everything they want and cannot get any other way: power, prestige, money, privilege.
    And we all know that they let their compatriots languish in the dust while they do this.
    And we all know they love to see aboriginal communities in a mess because it is grist for their mill – they blame it on the hand that feeds.
    Their hypocrisy and perfidy are just about without measure.

    All of that on the ‘blackfellow’ side.
    On the ‘whitefeller’ side we all know there’s only two kinds that give a damn in an activist sense and they are:
    1. The braindead who know nothing about anything but love to feel they are doing their bit for humanity while pleading the cause of these poor primitive blackfellas.
    2. The cynical cunning manipulators who simply ride the bandwagon for all its worth.
    And then there’s the the third segment of the whitefeller population:
    3. those that don’t give a damn.

    And they are the ones that didn’t give a damn about covid, either and that’s why the govt seems to have gotten away all the awful things it has done: plundering the nation’s coffers for 600 billion dollars, squashing doctors rights to practice medicine, encouraging hospitals to promote dubious and downright dangerous practices, fomenting feat and uncertainty, promulgating downright lies… etc. etc..
    And they won’t/don’t give a damn about this either.
    So it might even come to pass.
    And what a bloody shame that will be.
    But shame.. ‘shame’ – Australia doesn’t know the meaning of the word, does it….

  • gilmay97

    It is time the Australian people closed our parks and roads to aboriginals, the walking track at Mnt Warning south of Wollumbin peak appears a total scam — they even have the name wrong on their paperwork
    The false claimants to the area need to be exposed, they are not hereditary local aboriginals nor have they any traditional claim to the area. The early tribal people of the area told the pioneers they were welcome to join them on their land, Red McKenzie of Wollumbin was a good friend and protector of the tribal people who called him “Wollumbin Gum Jimmy”, and his family’s history tells the true story, the current false history makers need to read white-man’s records that tell the true story.
    I was told the story by Red McKenzie (and others), the son of a man who befriended the original aborigines and had a close friendship with them, he owned the property called ‘Wollumbin’ between Mount Warning and Eungella. The original people died out long ago from sicknesses
    I detail false BS claims in the Tweed Valley where I lived for 39 years, with facts in a controversial book I am near the end of writting, on these matters. I provide clear evidence they are NOT the nation’s first people; we have six different skull types from very different people, and anthropological, scientific DNA, and historical records of numerous races living here in past times.
    The theory used by current aboriginals is that after reaching Australia by some mysterious means they regularly patrolled the shoreline and kept the Australian continent exclusively to themselves keeping everyone else out for millions of years — a bit hard to swallow that one.

  • john.singer

    Let us have a Truth-telling and that is not as it is claimed a Makaratta.

    Begin with the large important lies which are clearly identifiable.

    “Indigenous Australian Culture is the oldest continuous living culture in the world” and its various semantic forms.

    “Indigenous” means originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native of a Country. Therefore most people having Aboriginal ancestry are indigenous (and so are about 19 Million other Australians) except the few born overseas. There about 5.5 Million non-indigenous Australians (born overseas and Australians by contract).

    “Australian” can only mean of Australia which was created 1 January 1901.

    “Aboriginal Culture” was a generalisation of how people from 350-atlest 500 language groups might have shared practices and beliefs. These were part of the secret “High Culture” passed down incrementally by the Elders to initiated men and totally withheld from their women. The high culture is long gone and so is most of the knowledge. The balance was the daily lives of small clans or family groups that daily eked out a living on a mainly inhospitable continent. They hunted and gathered with stone tools and hardened wood and knew little of food preservation so their sustenance varied from malnutrition to gluttony. Most wore no clothes, had only natural or rudimentary shelters and no written language. Their history was an oral one stored in song and dance and was anything but universal. They did not live in peace but developed means of settling disputes by means which involved corporal, capital or psychological punishments or ritual warfare. They were not unintelligent as their descendents have proven in the last 200 or so years in which they spanned cultural development which took their European counterparts millenia.

    Now I doubt there is one single person of Aboriginal blood living like that today or at anytime since say 1967.

    So Australian Aboriginal Culture today is not continuous but one punctuated by frequent appropriation of other cultures and therefore not dissimilar to any other culture in the world evolving those those characteristics.

    The sooner we return to being Australians together the sooner we can help those of our citizens who really need a hand-up and have become too reliant on a hand-out.

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