The Voice

Blunt Truths from an Old Bushie

I’m both tired of and bristling at the seemingly endless stream of demands that I back with a ‘yes’ vote something our PM Albanese calls the Voice. I am exhorted by most sections of the media to support this or be castigated as a racist, a redneck bigot indelibly opposed to a fair and equitable Australia. A future of harmony and reconciliation, I am assured, will inevitably follow if we give a very small proportion — roughly three per cent — of our population a second or third voice in Parliament. This is something the non-Aboriginal rest of us do not have.

My initial reaction was one of perplexed annoyance. Surely, this Voice business is unnecessary and counterproductive, I reasoned, but this mood soon became an appalled bemusement when I read The Australian‘s profile of Marcia Langton and saw the headline ‘Vote ‘No’ and you won’t get a welcome to country again’. It sounds like a good deal to me.

Take what follows from an old bushy who grew up with Aboriginal kids, went to school with the same kids, played sport with Aboriginal youths and worked with Aboriginal men in the cane fields and shearing sheds of Queensland: racism was never apparent or an issue. We were all of us judged by our capacity to get the job done, skin colour irrelevant. We were all working in our country, black and white alike, and striving to build better lives for ourselves and a brighter future for Australia. None of the Aboriginal people, with whom I have now had a near-lifelong relationship, would have been arrogant enough to presuppose they could welcome me to my own country. It was “our country”, all of us. We were egalitarian to a man and mateship was assumed and observed by all.

Remembering those character-building times, I now realise I have lived on the land beneath our feet longer than most of those pushing the Voice, and during that time I have produced food for our people while nurturing our environment. This is something the Aboriginal people were never able to do, Bruce Pascoe’s lucrative nonsense notwithstanding.  As a result of my efforts and those of so many like me, our land is today more productive, more fertile and better managed than at any time in our continent’s long past.

When Europeans arrived here in 1788, the Australian continent was barely able to support half a million people — the figure I favour among the many guesstimates of the indigenous population — and starvation was a recurring feature of Aboriginal life. The Australian landscape today supports around 25 million people at home and another 60 million nourished off-shore by our exports. The difference between Aboriginal tenure and that of European occupancy could not be more stark.

So, I say this to all those Aboriginal activists baying for a better deal: if you want genuine reconciliation and equality of opportunity, begin by looking in the mirror and recognising that your tenure on our land was negative. Having accepted that fact it will be time to find the humility and decency to reach out your hand to “our mob” and say ‘thank you’.

Thank you for showing us the way out of the most hidebound, violent and atrophied culture on earth.

Thank you for giving us education and the opportunities that provides.

Thank you for giving us modern medical support.

Thank you for providing us with housing and associated services.

Thank you for feeding us.

Thank you for giving us control of large areas of land and resources.

Thank you for giving us royalties from those resources; something that other Australians do not get.

Thank you for providing most of our needs since settlement in 1788.

Your mob owes a debt to the rest of us and seeking further representation in Parliament is not the way to balance the books. Only when you stop playing the victim, stop whinging and stop expecting others to provide for your needs will you gain credibility in this great country. To the now very large group of raucous rabble-rousers, stop lamenting your self-imposed poverty and lack of opportunity. Get off your backsides and show a bit of enterprise by becoming self-sufficient. Filter your ancient Aboriginal culture to keep the good bits while discarding the violence, misogyny, clan feuds and humbugging, and ensure every Aboriginal child gets a Western education based on the English language.

When you make those changes, you will not need a Voice or your fellow Australians’ hand-outs. Only then will we be a genuinely united nation sharing the bounteous resources of our land.

Yes, our land.

23 thoughts on “Blunt Truths from an Old Bushie

  • brandee says:

    A really appropriate personal experience and evaluation Ron.
    If the Voice gets the vote then imagine the antagonism that would appear in Australia towards Indigenes if they obstruct government to favour themselves. Malaysia has constitutional preferment of the indigenous bhumiputra – sons of the soil who are in the majority. Other ethnic groups such as Indian and Chinese resent being in the second rank for public service and government allocations.

    • cbattle1 says:

      But, can the Malays of Malaysia be said to be “indigenous”? Aren’t there some races of the original hunter-gatherers still existing in the remote jungle highlands, where the rice-cultivating Malays drove them, during the Malay “invasion” south-eastward down the peninsula and across the archipelago all the way to and including the Philippines? Maybe we should be adopting those “Asian Values” that Dr Mahathir and Lee Kwan Yu used to speak of?

  • Botswana O'Hooligan says:

    Mr. Pike, the people you and I grew up with have either long gone or remain silent because they are ashamed of their fellows as we are.

  • Brian Boru says:

    I enjoyed reading of the times that Ron relates when there was unity amongst workers and what really mattered was getting the job done. I remembered my own short time working in Qld.
    I have a concern though. Because of the actions of the money grubbers amongst those with Aboriginal heritage we might be conflating the worthy with with the grafters. Let us be careful when we address this issue that we do not lump all part or full Aboriginals in with those who want to divide us.

  • Ceres says:

    Can’t disagree with you Ron. Your reality check adds up. Those are hard truths that the bleeding hearts will not countenance. The taxpayer $32 billion pa of attempting to ” balance the books” was supposed to be a hand up for aborigines but has instead resulted in a handout mentality which has no end date.
    A glimmer of hope for rational people is the appointment of Jacinta Price. Can’t throw the meaningless slur of “racist” at her in this Labor attempt to demolish democracy.. As an advocate for the no vote she is able to cut through in simple language, the repercussions of this Voice. Half the population wouldn’t know what executive government is.

    • DougD says:

      “Can’t throw the meaningless slur of “racist” at her in this Labor attempt to demolish democracy.” They’re doing the next-best thing: Noel Pearson accused Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price of being trapped in a “redneck celebrity vortex” and being used by right-wing think tanks to “punch down on other black fellas”.

    • Lawrie Ayres says:

      $32 billion per annum. 600000 full or part Aborigines. $50000 each. $200000 for a family of four. Tax Free. That should close any gap. Many a hard working non-Aborigine are feeding their families on $50000 less tax. Aborigines do not need a “Voice”; they need an accountant.

  • NarelleG says:

    Ahh Ron – my sentiments exactly.
    My father tilled the soil to produce crops of potatoes in the 30’s and 40’s along with mixed dairying on the Clarence River.
    He maintained the farm till 1967 when dairying was not viable.

    Each of we 5 – the eldest at home at the time – went with dad on a two hour horse ride to burn the 100acre ‘bush paddock’ off in June-July to prevent bush fires.
    As his father and grandfather before.

    We didn’t need aborigines to teach us ‘firestick farming.’

    Yes – my country between my toes.
    I can smell the different air when I travel back to visit.

    Weren’t we lucky to have lived in that era where all men were equal.
    We didn’t see colour.

    We were taught our history as fact and not fiction.
    We watched 30mm films in the 50’s on aborigines.

    Today any person under 40 has been well and truly indoctrinated and taught that their ancestors stole the land; committed genocide; massacred and raped the aborigines and stole the children.
    The ubiquitous religious chant of acknowledgement of country is heard across the land in school assemblies each week in place of our national anthem.

    Child abuse.

    The aboriginal industry and aboriginal political elites have done much harm to our beloved Nation and it’s citizens.

    I will be sharing your essay on social media.

    Thanks Ron.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    The ‘Aboriginal Voice’ will likely just be the first cab off the rank here. Other minorities who believe they have suffered discrimination will each have a case for their own ‘voices’ to be added to the general parliamentary cacophony. The Muslims of Australia, who copped a lot of flak after 9/11, and whose forerunners the ‘Afghan Cameleers’ built the world’s only corrugated-iron mosque out there at Broken Hill, NSW; they have a case. If they get their Muslim ‘Voice’ then likely the Australian Hindus (mainly immigrants from India) will want theirs too, potentially bringing the Hindu-Muslim conflicts that separated India form Pakistan in 1947 into it as well. And not only the Hindus; the Jewish community may well want a ‘voice’ to balance that of the Muslims, particularly over the Israel-Palestine issue.
    Then, we also have the Chinese, who were racially vilified, killed and injured in the goldfields riots such as occurred at Lambing Flat, NSW in the Gold Rush days of the 1850s. The list of groups with a case for a parliamentary Voice of their own can only grow.
    Moreover, consider the possible consequences should the Aboriginal Voice be ignored by the pollies on any given issue. Street demonstrations and public protest meetings etc, etc, etc will likely be the order of the day, and of the type that are routine in Alice Springs and elsewhere today. Because, after all, ‘The Voice’ will represent a racially-based constituency, not a geographic one.
    If you ask me, the whole thing is a can of worms inside a time-bomb. The saying of former Chief Justice of Australia Sir Harry Gibbs: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is appropriate here.
    Our Constitution ain’t broke; on the contrary, it is a lighthouse to the rest of the world, and has served us well. The cobbling-on of any or all of these extras will each be like tacking a sly-grog bar onto that Broken Hill mosque.
    The Aboriginal community is not united on ‘The Voice’ either. Significant numbers there also oppose it. QUOTE: “A day after tens of thousands attended Invasion Day rallies around the country, polling shows 80 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians support a Voice enshrined in the constitution, despite opposition from politicians, including Victorian senator Lidia Thorpe of the Greens and Northern Territory Country Liberal Party senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price.” ENDQUOTE.
    See also:

    • pmprociv says:

      Good idea, Ian — a separate voice for every group that thinks its predecessors suffered badly in the past, and needs special consideration and restitution for it now. Indeed, why bother with a parliament at all, when we could be run by this new mob?

      You might have recently read that Wiradjuri leader and Uluru-statement contributor, Roy Ah See, declared: “I see a red voice, I see a blue voice, I see a Green voice. Our people want a black voice.” What’s to stop him, or anyone else, from setting up an Indigenous Australians Party? Or must the government even do that for him? (Who does his laundry, I wonder, or cook his meals?) No need to mutilate the national constitution for that to happen. Whatever became of individual and group empowerment, a.k.a. “initiative”?

    • cbattle1 says:

      Ian: Isn’t there an error in the “quote” you have cited? It seems to be saying that 80% of Aboriginals are in favour of the “Voice”?
      The whole point of the “Voice” is that it is to be HEARD by the Parliament and the Executive branch of the Government. The “Voice” is an action of “TRUTH-TELLING”. In other words, it is imperative that the Government LISTEN to that TRUTH, and IMPLEMENT it! If shouting does not effect that truth, then a sympathetic High Court will!

  • geoff_brown1 says:

    I went to school in the 1960’s with the offspring of several of the prominent Noongar clans. Most amusing to be told, a couple of years ago, by a certain activist, that Aboriginal children were not allowed to go to school in the 1960’s….

    • jbhackett says:

      My Dad farmed in SA in the 50s, 60s and 70s. He employed locals including aboriginals. He paid all his workers the same and treated them all the same (i.e. well). Colour was never an issue. Sometimes he’d take half a sheep that he’d butchered, into town for the aboriginal families, as he knew some of them were struggling. He did this without any fuss or recognition. He did this at a time when he was struggling himself as a TPI returned serviceman. Now we’re being told what nasty racist employers the white settlers were, treating aboriginals poorly and not paying them properly. This is being pedalled by city activists. They carry on about truth telling while pedalling blatant lies and I find it offensive. At least my Dad is dead now so he doesn’t have to hear this.

  • call it out says:

    Good words, Ron. There is a real compassion, there, born of personal experience, and common sense.
    Those who have harmed our indigenous citizens with welfare over the last 50 years have much to reflect upon, which most won’t.
    Those who campaign for a separate citizenry will heap even more pain and evil upon them, and us.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    Well said Ron. Although my personal experience with Aborigines is nowhere as extensive as yours, it is nice to have ‘gras roots’ confirmation of my overwhelming impression.

    One of these was drinking in the Rapid Creek Hotel in Darwin in the late 60s with my father. The mainland Aborigines drank in the public bar, and were generally well behaved (no less so than the local whites anyway) while the Islanders (TI and Tiwi), dressed in shirts and trousers, drank quietly in the saloon bar, which was graced also by the likes of Dad and me. There was never any racist antipathy towards either group.

    • pmprociv says:

      And well said, Peter (as always). I forwarded Ron’s story to an old mate in the West, who replied: “Ron Pike has certainly nailed it! As a country bumpkin, I feel he has written of my experiences. At Wubin, my home town with a population hovering around 20, we grew up with, played with, schooled with, worked with indigenous folk. My father largely employed (and paid standard salaries) to “first nation” workers. When we owned a banana plantation in Carnarvon, many indigenous tribes “squatted” on the land between Cheryl plantation and the Gascoyne River, their diet supplemented for years by our bananas dad happily shared. In later days, I had many respected aboriginal patients that increased my understanding and respect for these hunters and gatherers. Thus I have no guilt feelings when discussing their problems, or the voice.”

    • cbattle1 says:

      I remember drinking in the pub at Tennant Creek in the early 70’s. Whilst working at the Peko-Walsend mine at Warrego, they would bus us into Tennant Creek on a Saturday, and we would meet up, after doing our business, at what I presume was the Lounge Bar; convivial atmosphere, carpet, subdued lighting, sitting at tables, etc. However, to visit the Gents for a “slash”, it was necessary to transit through the center of the Public Bar and have one’s senses assaulted by glaring florescent lamps and white tiles, while walking disinterestedly through a din and cacophony of shouts, curses, profanity and flying chairs!
      There seemed to be some kind of amicably accepted and respectful natural differentiation along racial/cultural lines, rather than an enforced system of Apartheid/segregation, otherwise the respective bars would have had their own toilets, a la the Republiek van Suid-Afrika, as it was then.

  • mags of Queensland says:

    This constant cacophony of voices telling is we are racist for not supporting ‘ the voice’ is just further alienating non aboriginal people. We are angry at being welcomed to our own country. We are sick to death of acknowledging aboriginal ownership of lands that their tribe/s has not lived on for many decades. We are sick of the lectured by aboriginal elites who have had a decent education, do not relate to aboriginal people in remote areas and would never live the life of their aboriginal ancestors. Most of these activists have never set foot in these remote areas but want us to believe that their ” voice” will fix everything. What a lot of moonshine.

    I went to school in the 50’s and 60’s with aboriginal children. To us white kids they were just kids – no colour distinction here. Aboriginal people, no matter how small their claim to that lineage, get preferential treatment and bounties that the rest of us can only dream about. We are not responsible for them as individuals just as they are not responsible for us. Being blackmailed into backing this outrageously racist ” voice” will ensure that the goodwill non aboriginal Australians have will disappear. A reasonable addition to the preamble to the Constitution has been turned into a circus by aboriginal elites and white activists.

    • pmprociv says:

      Spot on, mags oQ. Nobody seems to give any consideration to the serious matter raised in your 2nd-last sentence, almost as a throwaway. Yet, for me, this is one of the most pressing (among many) concerns arising from the Voice, no doubt reflecting my own ancestry: the Voice will set up an increasingly conspicuous group, a “chosen people”, who will present a convenient scapegoat and target for violence when times get tough – which is inevitable. The speed at which the world’s changing could make that happen sooner rather than later (although, I hope, not in my lifetime).

    • Diane Burge says:

      Dear mags
      “Being blackmailed into backing this outrageously racist ” voice” will ensure that the goodwill non aboriginal Australians have will disappear. ”
      Have you considered that this causing rifts between indigenous and non-indigenous
      is the ultimate purpose?


    ” We were all of us judged by our capacity to get the job done, skin colour irrelevant. We were all working in our country, black and white alike, and striving to build better lives for ourselves and a brighter future for Australia”.
    Evidently, by foisting apartheid dictats of the Voice onto the Australian public, the Albanese Labour government finds it anathema for to us to aspire be Australians.
    Here’s an illustration of the dangers of the YES vote via the well known story of Snow White: Picture in your mind, if you will, Albanese as the wicked witch, the Australian public as Snow White and the poison apple as the YES vote. Most of us know what follows. Don’t fall for what Albanese is proffering as good fruit. Its insides are rotten and corrupt.

  • Watchman Williams says:

    The aborigines of whom Ron writes were fair dinkum aborigines and fair dinkum Aussies. The whinging parasites pushing for racial advantage in our Constitution are predominantly white products of universities and the public sector.
    This whole Voice scam is a cynical exercise by sleazy politicians to gain some kudos in international gabfests. If Australians fall for it, they will live to regret it. You only have to look at the so-called “aboriginals” at the forefront of the Voice project, and then look at the genuine aboriginals opposing it, to know what how to vote..

  • en passant says:

    I had several aboriginal and part aboriginal soldiers in my company in 1978. They all declared (without exception) that they had joined the Army to escape from the hopelessness of their tribalist culture and make something of themselves for their families.
    One Private tackled me at football so hard he chipped my cheek bone. I tried to even the score but he was too good for me. When a vacancy occurred some months later I promoted him to Corporal as he was a competent soldier and the best choice. Apparently, I had failed to notice he was both black and a full blood aboriginal. We became friends for years, but I lost contact in the days before emails after he left the Army.

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