The small Victorian town of Woodend was truly blessed on Saturday, June 24, to have four Voice luminaries (above) descend from on high. It was never revealed why Woodend (population 4,500) was chosen to have the elect, in the form of Jon Faine, Marcia Langton, Rachel Perkins and Marcus Stewart, grace the rural locality with their presence and wisdom. The free-ticketed event was booked out within 48 hours of being advertised. The audience of some 350 people, many adorned with ‘Yes’ badges, seemed to have an average age of 60+, with nary a young person in sight.
On every seat was a brown showbag of Voice goodies, including a programme, a pocket edition of the Constitution, a copy of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, some notes about the Voice proposal and a ‘Yes’ voters resources list (but nothing for No voters). Faine welcomed everyone and noted his “respect for all the First Nation’s people here” but no respect worth mentioning for anyone else. The former ABC gabbler, advised us that no questions would be allowed from the floor, so this was to be a two-hour lecture. Despite later talk of Aboriginal dispossession, powerlessness and disadvantage, it seemed from the outset there was not a bit of disadvantage on that stage. Indeed, only privilege and wealth, and a great deal of reflected white privilege at that – or is that now ‘black privilege’?
Langton and Perkins were bedecked in RM Williams boots @ $650.00 a pair, along with puffer jackets, whilst Marcus Stewart sported his trademark Akubra and a pair of new white Nikes topped with white socks — Nike’s reputation for poor wages and exploitative employment practises in the Third World evidently not an issue.
At a glance, Stewart appears to all intents and purposes a ‘whitefella’. He’d have had no trouble leaning on a whites-only bar in a pre-1967 Aussie pub, or so it seemed to me. Yet he also strikes me as a clear example of the (deeply flawed) ‘one drop’ policy — that is, if a person has only a dash of Aboriginal blood, irrespective of how far back in history that might be, he or she can claim 100 per cent Aboriginality. To any rational person this must seem absurd. Most of the time Stewart looked bored, likewise Perkins, who also manifested what I took for odd flashes of impatience. Langton just appeared angry.
After the obligatory background introductions, Stewart was asked to say the ‘Welcome to Country’ which, in fact, he didn’t do, instead opting to talk of Woodend’s proximity to Hanging Rock and citing Taungurung ritual initiations into manhood held at the site. What he neglected to mention were penile subincisions, cicatrices, scarring, ritual cutting and burning and possibly even forced sex with underage girls. Stewart later noted his fight to “retain and preserve Aboriginal culture”, but obviously not that culture, only the palatable modern day inventions. Apart from wearing a possum cloak, painting your face and eating some bush tucker, there’s arguably little left of traditional pre-settlement Aboriginal culture in Victoria, and that’s likely a good thing. Stewart seems to me to be an example of cultural appropriation, which in anyone else we could expect him to roundly condemn.
Oh, and it’s worth noting that Stewart is married to Victorian Senator Jana Stewart, who replaced Kimberly Kitching in the Senate after the latter’s death. Very in-house Labor. Read more about Marcus Stewart’s curious heritage at Dark Emu Exposed1.
As moderator, Jon Faine was spruiking like an old time red-ragger from the 1970’s, so much so that Rachel Perkins had to keep him in line as he repeatedly attempted to turn the discussion into a lets-bash-the-Liberals pile on. Later, Tom Calma and Greg Craven were repeated butts of derision from the panel, and John Howard, Mal Brough, Peter Dutton, Jacinta Price and Warren Mundine all came in for verbal bashings as well.
Langton led the charge with a potted history of Aboriginal activism since the 1960’s, then moved to focus on more recent events like the NT Intervention, of which she was scathing (‘harming our people’), Black deaths in custody (‘institutionalised racism’), stolen generations (‘attempted genocide’), child abuse (that’s ‘the churches’) and the usual grab-bag of victimhood complaints. It’s remarkable just how much Faine and Langton hate John Howard. Langton argued that the Voice is needed to “limit the ability of the Parliament to cause us harm” – so just how precisely is that to occur? And, of course, what ‘harm’ – the annual $36 billion spent on Aboriginal affairs? Langton also trotted out the old ‘Terra Nullius’ furphy, and the ignorant audience drank it all in with rapturous applause.
She also spent some time drilling into us that there is “no biological evidence whatsoever for ‘race’ – it doesn’t exist”, which is highly disputed, plus the usual claims to 65,000+ years of history, also hotly contested. Langton seemed blithely ignorant of the inherent illogicality of her own argument. If ‘race’ does not exist, then why do we need a race-based ‘Voice’? She claimed indigenous ‘spirituality’ and connection to the land make Aborigines special, but there’s no biological evidence of intergenerational genetic or DNA transfer of ‘love of land’ to suggest that contemporary Aboriginal people have any greater feeling of attachment to the land than anybody else.
Langton continued to bang the old well-worn drum of using the excuse of the ‘disadvantaged tribal Aboriginal people in Central Australia’ as justification of the need for the Voice. But these tribal people represent a tiny, minuscule fraction of the 3.4 per cent of Aborigines, and much of their own current situation is a direct result of their own choices. Tribal Aboriginal people have bad diets because that’s what they want to eat. White colonialists don’t make them have bad diets. The panel made reference to the high prevalence of diabetes within Aboriginal communities, again inferring it’s the whitefellas’ fault, without making any reference to tribal Aborigines’ lack of tolerance for sugar, which promotes the increased incidence of diabetes.
There was more of the same about the ‘housing shortage’. Tribal Aborigines homes get trashed because so many families and individuals live in them communally because of ‘humbugging’. But again, no mention was made of that, yet both Perkins and Langton would be well familiar with that problem. We don’t need a ‘Voice’ to sort out those problems, which have been around for over five decades. We need to admit that much so-called ‘Aboriginal culture’ is very damaging to Aboriginal people and that only by greater integration into our modern Western society will these problems be solved.
The form of ‘intergenerational trauma’ experienced by Aborigines has nothing to do with colonisation or alleged inherited ‘genetic or DNA trauma’, as the panel asserted. It has everything to do with intergenerational lifestyles of poverty and violence. As has often been said, self determination is the problem, not the solution.
Langton insisted that the Voice would only “advise on things that specifically and directly affect Aboriginal people”. However, that’s not what the Voice wording says, so such an assurance is worthless. Langton is peddling a bill of goods here, the latest attempt to con referendum voters. Further, she poo-hooed the idea that the Voice would result in Australians having to pay rent on their land or homes, but that’s not what Voice advocate Thomas Mayo has clearly said. Mayo has indicated that’s exactly what the Voice would be advocating, along with “reparations and compensation” from all us nasty colonialist whitefellas.
Almost laughably, the panel members agreed the Voice would be “cost neutral” as the “efficiencies and reduced duplication would save what the Voice would cost”! Haven’t we all heard that one before! The panel also claimed that “research shows” 86 per cent of Aboriginal people support the proposed Voice, but provided no real evidence for that claim.
To her credit, Rachel Perkins resisted Faine’s every effort to drag her into his repeated attempts at a political belting of the Liberals, but she refused those invitations – well done, Rachel, you showed some integrity. Unfortunately, Perkins claimed towards the end that “This (the Voice) won’t affect most Australians at all, but we will all feel better”, and that it’s a “modest invitation of great unity.” These are the big lies. A successful Voice referendum will affect all of us, we won’t ‘feel better’, it’s not ‘modest’ and it’s clearly already divisive.
Despite Langton’s disavowal of the existence of ‘race’, Marcus Stewart, who is in touch with his true Aboriginal self, is now somehow special — more special than fellow Australians because of his ‘race’. Langton seems to have developed a real hatred of what was supposedly done to ‘my people’ by the white colonialists, and in believing her own propaganda. This bitterness seeps out every time she speaks.
In summary, Jon Faine’s agenda was clearly to bash the Liberals and extol socialist Labor, his love of Gough Whitlam being not even barely disguised. At least from Rachel Perkins there was a sense of integrity, even if misguided; however, from Marcus Stewart there seemed nothing more than a display of conspicuous virtue. And from Marcia Langton, nothing more than a tired bitterness and anger.
What was really astounding was the level of acclamation from the floor. After the event, I chatted briefly to the old chap seated beside me, but didn’t dare ask him if he were a Yes or No voter.
You see, we’re already divided.