Aborigines

Labor’s Haste on the Voice is Strategy, not Sincerity

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s haste on a Voice referendum is starting to draw ire from all sides of the political fence. Yet most of the misgivings being aired – lack of bipartisanship will bring failure, speed will not carry the public along, insufficient thought will not produce the best outcomes – all rely on a fundamentally flawed premise. They assume the Labor Party genuinely wants an indigenous Voice to Parliament.

Labor strategists, on the other hand, must be deeply worried about how few political benefits this half-baked symbolism can deliver if it succeeds at the ballot box. Those strategists cannot fail to understand that short-term woke bragging rights will be outweighed by a much larger world of pain to come. They will be acutely conscious that, in the long run, a Voice is going to hurt Labor far more than the Coalition.

The most benign prospect for Labor of a Yes vote is that a Voice might give them permission to run with ideas that, unless seen to come from a designated Indigenous parliamentary body, would be deemed too controversial. A generous interpretation is that after being scared into total policy paralysis by the spectre of their green-left faction and the luvvie media branding them racists, the Voice would be a convenient way to deflect criticism and shunt responsibility for making difficult decisions to others. Of course, it would also prove that most politicians are now too cowardly to do their jobs, but that is not new information.

Meanwhile, the immense downside of a Yes vote has to be keeping the Prime Minister’s more astute colleagues awake at night. For this they have nobody to blame but themselves, having been backed into a corner by their own self-serving determination to quarantine certain matters along racial lines and to do so for political advantage. They would be fully aware that, at some point, things Labor has pigeonholed for decades as the ‘indigenous issues’ with which to bludgeon their opponents are suddenly going to matter to everybody. Then the bludgeon will be swiftly turned back on them.

Consider just one example as it might afflict energy policy. Most people want reliable and affordable electricity and expect government to ensure supply in any way it can. Like it or not, it is inevitable that there will come a time when Australia can no longer avoid seriously considering nuclear power. Uranium deposits in lands that are under native title, such as Jabiluka, are going to take on national significance.

The Labor Party will be praying to whatever deities they have that they are safely back in opposition by then. If not, they could easily find themselves forced to decide between riding roughshod over native title in order to keep the nation’s lights on, or upholding Indigenous rights at the expense of alienating huge swathes of voters. That mess would be hard enough to navigate as matters currently stand, but the existence of a Voice would elevate the political risks into the stratosphere.

Whatever criticisms it may merit, it is nevertheless hard to see a Voice assembly going along with an agenda that would see them wear the blame for letting the miners in and thereby eroding indigenous rights. Far more likely is loud opposition to any such agenda at every step of the way. True, Labor could and likely would attempt to pay a squillion-dollar ransom in return for Voice support, but even if Voice representatives were willing to sell out, this would still paint the government as, to put it politely , weak, hamstrung and unable to govern responsibly.

Even more terrifying for Labor is the prospect that electoral and economic reality could force them to blatantly disregard the very Voice that they once opportunistically championed. That would be a pragmatic decision. It would also see them labelled as staggering hypocrites who used indigenous tokenism to make themselves look good. Then, when push came to shove, subjugate the Voice and face howls of criticism for being just another racist face of the ‘oppressive white colonial system.’

There is vast and almost unlimited potential for a Voice to forever erode the impression of moral high ground  Labor has spent years cultivating, whereas the Coalition is far more likely to come out of such stoushes comparatively unscathed. After all, when you have not traded heavily on indigenous issues to gain moral credibility, you have much less to lose when you need to put the whole of the nation first.

Compare this debacle to the relative safety of there being no Voice. At present, Labor’s efforts to show off its ‘caring credentials’ are costing them nothing more than taxpayers’ money (which they have long believed is their absolute right to waste on do-nothing gestures).

If Australians say no to Voice, Labor can shrug and say that they fulfilled their promise. Then, they will keep posturing about how much integrity they have and how they care ever so much about Indigenous Australians. The Greens will help them out by blaming a No to the Voice on Australia’s apparently intense racism, and indigenous affairs will remain a convenient political weapon for the so-called progressives to deploy at will.

While some Labor types might genuinely be hoping for a Yes vote, the smarter ones will be banking on a quick and decisive No — a result they will be more than happy to bathe in a photogenic flood of crocodile tears.

Lillian Andrews holds a Bachelor of Laws. She has never been a member of a political party

18 comments
  • DougD

    The problem for Labor with a No vote against the Voice is that it will drive the activists who are pushing it into a frenzy at missing out on well-paid Voice commissionerships and the chance of out-manoeuvring their fellows for the golden prize of a posting on behalf of the Voice to New York or Geneva. Meanwhile, Wadeye will go on burning, un-noticed by most of the main stream media and by the activists.

  • lbloveday

    dfat.gov.au inform that Australia’s Uranium exports generate power which “expressed as percentage of total Australian electricity production = 97%” which suggests to me that diverting some of that to domestic usage would avoid “riding roughshod over native title in order to keep the nation’s lights on”.

  • Biggles

    Lillian, Your first sentence reminds me of Stephen Laycock’s line that ‘Lord Ronald…flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions’. Sorry, but there are only two sides to a fence.

  • 27hugo27

    I’m not totally confident of a “no” vote, the stupidity of the electorate here and in the west never ceases to amaze me. I think the labor /greens types need a villian/s on every issue so it’s win win for them at full pay from we the taxpayer, and the “wheels go round and round”

  • Doubting Thomas

    I agree, Hugo. None of this has anything to do with the welfare of Aborigines. It is just another means which the insatiable radical left can use in their incessant campaigns to disrupt and hopefully destroy the society they hate so much.

  • Ceres

    Me too Hugo and Thomas. The stupidity of the electorate seems to know no bounds in this age when never has so much information been at their fingertips.
    You can bet the ‘no’ information sent to voters will be minimal.

  • 27hugo27

    Yes DT, the traffic disruptors will always be with us. They define themselves as morally superior with Utopia just around next bend.

  • Michael

    Certainly the best out comes are no vote (i.e., the referendum is not put) or a no vote, it is put and defeated. I think Albanese will take the first option by dithering, delaying, and deferring.

  • Peter OBrien

    Lillian, with respect I think you are crediting Labor with more smarts than they actually possess. Their blind adherence to the global warming religion and their faith in renewables testifies to that.

  • 27hugo27

    Exactly PO, Albanese is surely the least intelligent PM ever, his voice timbre, speech patterns and a complete lack of any insight or substance on ussues is devoid of gravitas. All he has is a passion for left wingery and the media/luvvie crowd to preach to.

  • 27hugo27

    Not a kiwi – “issues”.

  • Claude James

    Bigger problem with the ALP: It is actually Big Statist and anti-Westernist in almost all of its aims and underlying ideology.
    This is obvious when the “It couldn’t happen here” blinkers are removed.

  • hartpaul

    There are already 10 Indigenous members of parliament:
    https://www.nit.com.au/full-list-record-number-of-indigenous-mps-voted-in-to-serve-the-australian-people/
    This represents a greater proporition than in the general population.
    Why not make them all part of an indigenous VOICE committee?
    Advantages would be that
    1. they would already have been voted for by both indigenous and non-indigenous and so truly indicative of a unity between all Australians.
    2. They would only attract a payment based on their being members of a sub committee and so would be cheaper than an unnamed number of indigenous only, voted for by a smaller number of indigenous compared with the whole indigenous population – ie. the Uluru voice would be unrepresentative of Aboriginal people as a whole and have a bias towards urban indigenous who in many cases are living lives equal to and in some cases better than some / many non -indigenous. Most of the severe gaps are in remote indigenous areas.
    3. This sub-committee VOICE would contain some people that have lived in remote areas and have first hand experience of their problems. Get Jacinta Price to take all the committee members to tour and camp in areas of the outback for two weeks and speak with and identify the problems. (I can just imagine Lidia Thorpe running screaming out of her tent when she sees a scorpion.)
    This would be a far better test of what a voice can do practically.

  • Daffy

    @27hugo27: traffic disrupters? Throw the Victoria police at them; they are good at bashing grannys, rapid fire rubber bullet barrages and capsicium spray volleys. At least in this case it would be in a just cause.

  • Peter Marriott

    Thanks Lillian, interesting little piece and good comment Peter ; there is no climate problem, only a political one, and obviously the best and only way we can get Australia back on track with low cost electricity is by using the cheapest source i.e. our easy to mine coal…..hundreds of years of it, in our tried and proven, easy to distribute, off the shelf base load power stations ; with a little bit of nuclear coming along behind, just to get the hang of it, and to assist with our nuclear submarines.
    On the possibility of annoying huge swathes of voters with nuclear, of course this could be offset by an even more huge swathe who were not annoyed. In all the pre-selection votes I participated in whenever we put a question to the candidates re their position on nuclear, the great majority of definite against positions were always held by the women candidates, and we tested it in many pre-selection meetings year after year, and I think from memory there have always been more men in Australia than women ?

  • DougD

    Daffy – like Victoria Police dealt so effectively with the illegal BLM protesters in Melbourne in June last? Taking a respectful knee for them?

  • Elizabeth Beare

    Native Title is a ticking time bomb when it comes to Australia’s energy future as so many energy resources are tied up with it and our economic future is dependant on our natural resources. Australians need this to be made very clear indeed to them before they ‘vote’ for anything else to do with aboriginal ‘recognition’. There has been far too much of it already. Wind it back. Desist. If comes to a vote, vote NO loud and clear.

  • Peter Marriott

    Quite right on all points Elizabeth. There has been way too much of it already and I’m coming to the conclusion that most if not all of these latter day referendums tend not to be in the true Swiss manner, with all points fore and against honestly laid out, and are more Napoleon style plebiscites setting out to fool and trick. As such I now have a firm sort of ‘default’ position…vote NO and stick to it….. even if it’s brought back over and over again.

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.