Aborigines

A Good Journalist With More Faith Than Facts

Chris Kenny is a journalist I admire more than most.  His acuity and, more important, his tenacity in calling out the worst of Leftist nonsense – global warming hysteria, energy policy, woke culture, ABC bias and so on – are second to none. But in the case of the Aboriginal Voice, that tenacity seems to have morphed into intransigence. An unwillingness to do more than barely recognise that there is genuine opposition to this proposal. Take for example, this exchange between Kenny and Pauline Hanson on a recent Kenny Report:

Kenny: Jacinta Price has supported you and she has been sceptical about the indigenous Voice.  She wants to focus on real disadvantage – practical issues.  I know you support practical help for disadvantaged communities. Is there any chance you’d support an indigenous Voice to Parliament?

Hanson:  No I won’t.  You’re wrong on that.  I supported getting rid of ATSIC.  It was a corrupt organisation costing 22 billion of taxpayer’s money.  Both sides of Parliament got rid of it.  If you enshrine the Voice in the Constitution, you’ll never get rid of it. It will not work.  They are tribal.  Could it deal with the issues that are happening now – sexual abuse, domestic violence?

Kenny:  You make your point clear.  I jut would have thought we’ve heard Jacinta Price draw attention in her first speech to these issues and I would argue that if we had an indigenous Voice – a way for people to bring attention to these issues 10, 20, 30 years ago, maybe there would have been more done.  I mean this is the point.  You need people to actually raise these issues.

At this point I could hardly believe my ears.  Was it possible that Kenny could have made such an asinine statement?  Yes, it was.  Hanson heard the same thing:

Hanson:  I have raised it.  I’ve raised it since 1996 and I keep speaking about it.  And everyone calls me a racist. 

And not just Pauline Hanson.  Jacinta Price has been saying the same for years.  Does that mean we can’t listen to her because she’s not ‘enshrined’ in the Constitution?  What does Kenny imagine was in the ‘Little Children Are Sacred’ report that led to the NT intervention?  What does he imagine was behind every other state and federal initiative into dysfunctional Aboriginal communities?

And in the Weekend Australian he repeats the nonsense.  Here are a few examples, followed by my comments to the article.

“Two worrying government decisions demonstrate how useful a Voice could be: the Northern Territory’s abolition of mandatory alcohol bans in Indigenous communities; and the federal government’s axing of the cashless debit card.”

No, the two ‘worrying decisions’, which are based on virtue signalling and contrary to the advice from those most affected (the women in those communities and local representatives, such as Price), clearly presage that the Voice will deliver ideological, not practical, outcomes.  What has Linda Burney, a minister in the government, to say about these decisions? The Albanese government has ignored advice from prominent elected Aboriginal representatives against removing alcohol bans and the cashless welfare card, attempting to defend such moves as ‘empowering’ Aboriginal people and not being ‘patronising’.  If empowering Aboriginal people were the answer why not just repeal Section 51(xxvi): “the people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws?”

“politicians need to be clear about the voice, rather than rant about sovereignty, colonisers and endless deference.”

(Some) politicians are merely echoing the sentiments about sovereignty and colonisers clearly and repeatedly expressed by Aboriginal activists such as Marcia Langton and Lidia Thorpe.  As well they might.

“It [so-called enshrinement] would provide insurance that past mistreatment under our Constitution could not recur.”

What are these past mistreatments?  From the get-go, our Constitution guaranteed voting rights at the Federal level to all Aborigines who already had them in the colonies of NSW, Vic, SA and Tasmania.  And it excluded itself from making laws for Aboriginal people, because that was the province of the States.  Under our Constitution, Aborigines were included in the ‘people’.  They were British subjects until 1948 (as we all were) at which time they became Australian citizens (as we all did). The Constitution had nothing more to say about Aboriginal people until the 1967 referendum gave the Commonwealth government power to make laws for Aborigines.  What mistreatments occurred since then under the Australian Constitution?  Australian governments may have failed Aboriginal people (not through want of good will) but the Constitution has never failed them.

Kenny and those of similar views will have to do better than this to get their referendum across the line. And so will the myriad of ABC and other woke commentators. A good example is the draft wording of the proposal:

♦ There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

♦ The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to Parliament and the Executive Government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

♦ The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

If the Voice proposal were to succeed at referendum, one of the key elements would have to be that this is only going to be an advisory body and that the government of the day is not obliged to act upon its advice.  Such a caveat in the Constitution won’t guarantee a government will remain immune to moral or ideological pressure and accept flawed advice.  Nonetheless, this proviso must be explicit in the wording of the proposal.

ABC commentators, following the Prime Minister’s Garma speech, claimed the above wording guaranteed the Voice would be advisory only.

But it does not.  The third point gives the Parliament power to define the powers of the Voice.  That could include legislation that specifies, for example, that ‘where Departmental advice conflicts with that of the Voice, the Voice will prevail unless exceptional circumstances pertain’ or words to that effect. 

I hope this loophole will be closed before the question is put. In the meantime, what it signals is that this proposal is constitutionally very fraught.

Peter O’Brien’s latest book, Villian or Victim? A defence of Sir John Kerr and the Reserve Powers, can be ordered here

 

27 comments
  • Dallas Beaufort

    Chris Kenny’s cause célèbre.

  • Ceres

    You are so right Peter. Kenny lost me on this one too. This entrenching of racial preferential/divisive treatment must not succeed.
    He interviewed Marcia Langton, after Pauline I think, who thanked him profusely for supporting this indigenous voice. After that gushing I didn’t expect him to push back and he didn’t. Marcia stated that there hadn’t been a “voice”. Kenny needed to point out past aboriginal Parliamentarians and the present ten indigenous Parliamentarians and the failed ATSIC costing billions of dollars, but no. A big fail from Chris Kenny.

  • Tony Thomas

    Also, who gets to be an Aboriginal? Case in point: Bruce Pascoe. He is a member of the Twofold Aboriginal Corporation whose members are restricted to Aboriginals. I have complained to the Office of the Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations which has taken no action. Bruce has never documented any Aboriginal ancestor but goes officially unchallenged. Could it be that anyone claiming to be an Aboriginal will have a vote for representatives on the Voice?

  • rosross

    Does Kenny not realise when he says this:

    “Two worrying government decisions demonstrate how useful a Voice could be: the Northern Territory’s abolition of mandatory alcohol bans in Indigenous communities; and the federal government’s axing of the cashless debit card.”

    That he is suggesting such a voice could override Government which would make our democratic system a farce?

  • Michael

    An issue that concerns me about Kenny’s support for the Voice is that he seems to suggest that the ‘issues that affect’ indigenous people would be only those for which Section 51 (xxvi), aka the race power, is the head of power, and that it’s only fair, he says, that they be consulted about the exercise of that head of power. But most others clearly take a very much broader view. Albanese’s draft wording “matters relating to ATSI peoples” is very vague. Is it Section 51 (xxvi) matters only, or anything the Voice or the Parliament decide is a ‘matter relating’?

    Dutton, if he doesn’t reject a Constitutionally enshrined voice on principle, should not commit to support the referendum until a draft Bill addressing Albanese’s point three about the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Voice. Put simply, table that legislation before the referendum, otherwise the Coalition will back the “No’ case.

  • rosross

    Chris Kenny was clearly traumatised when he was savaged for rightly debunking the Hindmarsh Island fiasco of lies. His investment in the Aboriginal industry is clearly sourced in the fact he never got over it and is frightened it may happen again. That makes for propaganda not objective journalism.

  • DougD

    “If the Voice proposal were to succeed at referendum, one of the key elements would have to be that this is only going to be an advisory body and that the government of the day is not obliged to act upon its advice.” That won’t be enough Peter. Just look at the Waitangi Tribunal. It can only give advice to the NZ government about how to remedy breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi of 1840. Yet the NZ parliament has proved to be incapable of ever rejecting the Tribunal’s advice no matter how fanciful it is. And what happens if indigenous interests claim our parliament has not properly considered the advice of the Voice before deciding to fund a dam , a highway or do anything else? Who thinks the courts will not imply into the constitutional recognition of the Voice an obligation to give genuine consideration to its advice before government can lawfully proceed with a project? The proposed amendment to the Constitution does not intend to make the question of whether the government has give proper consideration to the advice of the Voice non-justiciable in any court. Constitutional lawfare and consequential delay loom over whether government has given proper consideration of the Voice’s advice.

  • IainC

    Aboriginal women and children now have a Voice, in the form of Liberal senators. Labor Aboriginal senators or MPs are too scared to address the real causes of Aboriginal disadvantage, and Greens members are too tin foil hat-radical to be of any use to anyone.
    There should be enough anti-racist, progressive, forward-thinking, pro-Aboriginal citizens in all States to defeat this reactionary vision for a divided nation with a resounding “No, thanks!”
    Should a referendum to overturn a constitutional Voice be contemplated it would (by then) compulsorily be referred to a Voice committee for review, since it concerns Aboriginal matters, and, of course, rejected.
    As a proud, indigenous Hampshire man, I look forward to my lot getting speed dial access to all parliamentary decisions in the next referendum. Also, Portsmouth to be returned to the EPL, please.

  • Katzenjammer

    The third point could be used by parliament to determine or restrict who the constituents are, remove any real functionality, and set useless policies. Let those in favour of this voice nonsense know that Albanese’s third point can be used to ensure The Voice is bound up in so much red tape that’s not worth a scrap. That might turn those against this version who would otherwise have been in favour.

  • 27hugo27

    I think Kenny, like Bolt and Sheridan cherry pick their issues, so not to be labelled right wing (a waste of time-they are anyway) and want to be considered measured. He should be all over this farcical proposal and the obvious danger it presents, yet go figure. Aboriginals certainly have a voice on ABC classical – resounding and ubiquitous from place naming to content and the smug servility of the presenters is turning me away from what used to be an almost politics free and ad free environment. How they shoehorn the wailing, stick hitting and didgeridoo playing alongside stringed instruments, pianos and brass is a breathtaking exercise in virtue signalling.

  • restt

    The Aboriginal people are the only people in Australia that have their own minister [previously Ken Wyatt] and his ministry which has responsibility to promote the affairs of the Aboriginal people. Every State has a Minister for Aboriginal affairs and a government department to promote the health and wellbeing of Aboriginals within their state borders.
    There is NO other race that has such a privileged and close examination and assistance by so many in government. It is ludicrous to suggest that every inch of Aboriginal welfare is not already fully considered. Most of the employees of the vast array of Aboriginal agencies across the nation are Aboriginal.

    The Voice is far more sinister activism than is suggested.

  • restt

    The Aboriginal people are the only people in Australia that have their own minister [previously Ken Wyatt] and his ministry which has responsibility to promote the affairs of the Aboriginal people. Every State has a Minister for Aboriginal affairs and a government department to promote the health and wellbeing of Aboriginals within their state borders.
    There is NO other race that has such a privileged and close examination and assistance by so many in government. It is ludicrous to suggest that every inch of Aboriginal welfare is not already fully considered. Most of the employees of the vast array of Aboriginal agencies across the nation are Aboriginal.

    The Voice is far more sinister activism than is suggested

  • Paul W

    I just want to point out that everyone in Australia was a citizen of Australia in 1901 because citizen was a social concept (not a legal one) meaning a member of the Commonwealth and nothing then as now has ever prohibited Aborigines from identify with that Commonwealth.

  • Daffy

    As has been alluded to above, the “Voice” would be used to suppress Aboriginal people except those who benefit from it and the continuation of the inequities and medacities of the grievance industry.

  • garryevans41

    I never thought that an Australian government would contemplate amending OUR Constitution to entrench a system of Apartheid into our laws. Decisions on privilege, entitlement and race will not be made by representatives elected by Australians, quiet or otherwise but, by High Court justices whom have already adjudicated on who can identify as descendant of the pre-1788 inhabitants.
    The “voice”, in whatever form is imposed is about increasing amounts of taxpayers money being controlled by urban elites. Always was, Always will be.

  • Peter OBrien

    DougD, as I say in my article, I agree that that the ‘not binding’ caveat in the Constitution will not be enough and have argued as much in a No Case booklet that I have written. But it must be made explicit in the referendum question. And I expect it will be. It’s absence alone would be enough to kill the referendum. Let’s hope the activists are dumb enough not to realize this.

  • brandee

    Since we learn that ‘demand sharing’ or ‘humbugging’ is basic to aboriginal culture might it be that the taxpaying welfare providers are being humbugged by the demands of the ‘Voice’. How can the usually smart Chris Kenny be advocating for a voice to humbuggers?

  • Laurence

    I think Mr. Kenny is hopeful that the Voice will lead to more worthwhile solutions for all Aboriginal people. His journalistic scepticism has not kicked in on what is likely to happen. Most good willed people would probably predict that the wrong people will be elected, or appointed, to the Voice and the same problems plaguing aboriginal will be prolonged. People like Warren Mundine, Noel Pearson and Jacinta Price and the like may be part of the voice but this is not guaranteed in anyway.

    In my opinion, what the Prime Minister is proposing will fail unless it is played out like the SSM plebiscite. If you vote Yes, that will be considered good, vote No, well then, you are on the wrong side of history. Sorry to be so syndical but this is way it is shaping up.

    My further cynicism predicts that if the Yes vote prevails, the Aboriginal activists will complain that the way the Voice works, as to decided by parliament, will be a the behest of the white men, as they will the decision makers. We will be back to square one and no one will win from this scenario.

  • restt

    It is ridiculous. Without constitutional change the government can decide on a body or voice now. They can allow that voice to make representations. They can determine what powers this body can have. This doesn’t have to be in the Constitution.

    In reality in a democracy it isn’t needed at all. But certainly not in the Constitution —- it is just a step on the slippery slope of blaktivism. The body can’t be ignored or reduced if locked in the Constitution. Dangerous ground ——-

  • Ian MacKenzie

    “The Voice is being led by members of the Indigenous elite who’ve spent their lives on the gravy train built on the backs of the misery of the most marginalized and changed nothing for them. The Voice to parliament is the gravy train attempting to engrain itself into the constitution so despite its failures and lack of accountability it can never be dismantled”. Senator Jacinta Nampijinta Price.

  • pmprociv

    On this issue at least, both Kenny and Albanese reveal themselves to be intellectual pedestrians; their deep analytical skills have deserted them. Just one part of Albo’s proposal, “The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to Parliament and the Executive Government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples”, demonstrates abject ignorance of his subject matter. Does he not realise that 80% of self-identified ATSI people live in the cities and towns of Australia, leading lives largely indistinguishable from those of everyone else? Therefore, ALL laws passed by Federal Parliament will affect them equally. This means The Voice will be entitled to have a say on everything Parliament does. It doesn’t take much imagination to foresee the additional disruptions and delays that will ensue in formulating and enacting future legislation.
    As for: “The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.” Doesn’t the Parliament already have such powers, even to set up such a Voice in the first place? Why a referendum? Why tamper with a perfectly good Constitution so unnecessarily? And, should The Voice end up being dysfunctional and corrupt like another ATSIC, it could readily be dissolved.

  • Rob H

    Chris Kenny is just another “wet” conservative commentator. He is no journalist. His principles are as malleable as dough. He is a classic “can’t we all just get along” based on all non-left ideas being watered down. He is “woke” and can’t even see it.
    As for the Coalition?

  • Michael Waugh

    Further to the comments of restt above, the “Final Report of the Referendum Council” of 30 June 2017 stated that the Voice “was considered as a way by which the right to self-determination could be achieved”; it “could support and promote a treaty-making process”; it “must also be supported by a sufficient and guaranteed budget, with access to its own independent secretariat, experts and lawyers”; it “could represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples internationally”; it could facilitate “a series of treaties”, which, in turn, was “a pathway to recognition of sovereignty” and “the vehicle to achieve self-determination, autonomy and self-government”; a Treaty “could include… the establishment of a truth commission, reparations”; “In relation to enforcement, the issues raised were about the legal force the Treaty should have, and particularly whether it should be backed by legislation or given constitutional force”; and truth-telling required that “the true history of colonisation must be told : the genocides, the massacres, the wars and the ongoing injustices and discrimination”.

  • rosross

    @restt,

    There is no Aboriginal people and there never was. In 1788 there were 350 groups, some say 500, many no more than family clans, without a common language, mostly at war with each other, descended from different waves of migration and colonisation. They were not one, they were not united and that is why there was no Treaty as the Maoris secured.

    Today with centuries of intermarriage, we have thousands of variations on those themes, ranging from 100% Aboriginal ancestry to less than 1%, or in some cases, none at all. The range encompasses those living in remote communities and those descended from mostly middle class Anglo-European ancestors over generations, in major cities.

    Aboriginal communities cannot even agree or speak in one voice given to familial and tribal rifts so it is delusional to think the 700,000 who register Aboriginal ancestry could ever summon up one voice. And the pushers know that. It is a power and money grab, nothing more.

  • Claude James

    Lee Kuan Yew foresaw -and stated in public several times- that Australia was to become the white trash heap of Asia-Pacific.
    And here we are.
    Significantly, this view is shared by many European and USA wealth-creators, military people, and pro-Western public servants who can be bothered to comment.
    Australian Naive-Idiocy is noted by Realists all across the rest of the world -and is exploited by a large number of parasites, near and far.

  • Davidovich

    I have just watched Kenny interview a member of the Uluru group and Hollie Hughes of the Liberal Party. Kenny was close to unhinged in his fawning over the Aboriginal but nigh on aggressively offensive to Hughes who refused to agree with him. His analysis of the climate change orthodoxy is completely at odds with his attitude to the Voice – it’s very disappointing to see such a lack of awareness of his inconsistency in an otherwise good journalist.

  • Lawrie Ayres

    Just vote NO. Aborigines are Australians and as such do not need special treatment nor special access to government. They have the same rights as do we all and the same access to our politicians. A separate and more powerful Voice is just another wedge between us and is the opposite to unifying.

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