The Voice

In Praise of Division and Hard-Ball Politics

Marcia Langton is a gift that keeps on giving for the ‘No’ case, even when she claims to have been misreported. She is hardly alone among Aboriginal ‘Yes’ advocates. However, if you really want a gift that keeps on giving, watch Chris Kenny wrangling unconvincingly with guests who don’t share his affection for the Voice. “But it’s only one page … but it can only advise … but it’s never been tried.” No, Mr Kenny, neither has chucking children into shark-infested waters to try and make them swim quicker. I saw him with The Australian‘s Sophie Elsworth the other evening going on about so-called fact-checking and, his singular preoccupation, the Uluru Statement’s number of pages. She smiled condescendingly. “Yes, Chris, there, there.” I imagine her wanting to say.

Kenny isn’t dumb, far from it. He is simply trying to prosecute a seriously flawed proposition. I’m even thinking that Linda Burney is not as nearly so dumb as she sounds when trying to answer parliamentary questions. Well, no one could be that dumb. But give her a break, she too is trying to defend the indefensible. How exactly how are the Voice’s chosen ones – the 24 well-heeled activists, the wannabe ‘big men’ – to represent 250 and more separate Aboriginal mobs, each with its own language? I doubt whether Robert Menzies or Winston Churchill would shine trying to answer that one.

Then we have the Prime Minister calling the Uluru Statement — the one-pager or the other twenty-five he hasn’t read — “a generous and gracious offer.” It reads to me more like a final letter of demand – treaty, reparations, sovereignty, self-determination. It’s an ill-tempered recipe for partitioning Australia geographically and racially. It is an appalling offer, not a gracious one. Does Mr Albanese believe what he says or is he being duplicitous? I’m sorry, but poor old Joe might feel it appropriate to call him “a lyin’ dog-faced pony soldier.” But I wouldn’t. He’s the PM after all and entitled to our respect. What, even when he’s blatantly telling porkies?

It has all gone too far. And when things go completely off the rails, as with the grotesque response to Covid and the idiotic destruction of our energy system, it is the product of a political unity ticket. Of course, the press is capable always of saving the day despite political unanimity. Not this press though. Maybe the press of fifty and more years ago. Now the press is part of the establishment. Remember those reporters chiding governments for not locking people down hard enough.

Politicians are mostly corrupt. By corrupt, I mean they’re in it for themselves and therefore blow with the wind. Those becoming used car salesmen or real estate agents might start off okay but their profession is corrupting. They become used to telling different stories, depending on whether they are talking to buyers or to sellers. Politicians are different. They have to glad hand, grease palms and lick boots to get preselection. Thus they start off compromised and its usually downhill from there. Don’t expect anything from them except via adversarial politics. Adversarial politics means that parties try to gauge and guess the public mood better than their opponents. Herein lies the chance of actual democracy breaking out and the corresponding chance of getting sensible policy.

Recall, the Uluru Statement’s beginnings (in December 2015) were under the auspices of Malcolm Turnbull. Albanese has quite rightly pointed to the complicity of the Coalition in the Uluru process. When Labor and the Libs get together, watch out. No reminder needed that John Howard was PM when nuclear power was banned with the full support of Labor; that Scott Morrison oversaw the Covid fiasco and signed up to net zero, being politically opposed only to the extent of being chided for not going further and faster in the mutually-agreed directions.

There was a thoughtful article in Wednesday’s Australian by Anthony Dillion. His basic point was that the deliberations over the Voice should be informed by heads rather than hearts. I agree with that so far as it goes. However, he said that the point at issue is “what is best for Indigenous Australians.” Is that equivalent to the “common good?” That’s not clear to me.

The Constitution is for all Australians. Even if it could be established that disadvantaged Aboriginal people would benefit from the Voice and its accompanying baggage, and there is no evidence of that, what about other Australians? Would they benefit from paying reparations, from having their country geographically and racially split asunder?

The real point at issue in the referendum is whether the country as a whole, Australians as a whole, would benefit if the Voice were established. Luckily for us, the Coalition parties, having sniffed the wind, belatedly decided to oppose the constitutional change. Hence, yet another disaster befalling the nation seems to have been avoided. Fingers crossed. But you might have noticed that the sheer principal at stake, keeping Australians as one, equal under the law, equal in the Constitution, took a whole lot of time to ring any bells at all among the Libs and Nats. And even now they harp on mindlessly about the lack of detail in the Voice proposal. As if that mattered.

We live in parlous times. With wets like Julian Leeser, Bridget Archer and Simon Birmingham in its ranks, there is every chance of the Libs (with the Nats in tow) embarking, in company with Labor and the Greens, on any number of future disastrous courses

12 thoughts on “In Praise of Division and Hard-Ball Politics

  • Peter OBrien says:

    Well said, Peter.

    And on the subject of Kenny this was a comment I posted in the Australian the other day:
    “And huge kudos to Sophie Elsworth for calling out Chris Kenny last night on the Battle of the Uluru Statement. In response to Kenny’s assertion that the Statement is just one page, Sophie stuck to her guns and pointed out that the architects of the Voice themselves said ‘out of their own mouths that it was more than one page and how can they take that back?’. Kenny’s response? ‘Yes I agree and that’s why they’re wrong’. Que?”

    To my immense surprise, it was accepted.

  • lbloveday says:

    “His basic point was that the deliberations over the Voice should be informed by heads rather than hearts”.
    No success with that link? Try:

  • Gordon Cheyne says:

    How much I’m enjoying the haka at the Rugby World Cup! The Marsellaise is glorious, as are New Zealand and South Africa singing their national anthems in two and three languages.
    However I’m not yet prepared to sit through “Advance Australia Fair” in 250 Aboriginal dialects.

  • ianl says:

    Jacinta Price has said out loud the key issue of the referendum that informs the intended NO vote, whether that holds sway or not.

    For many decades now the country has spent $billions per annum with genuine compassion in attempts to remove the ugly violence and despair we see characterising indigenous life in the outback communities and small towns. We see as well the miniscule progress made (if any of actual value).

    But there is no accountability for this woeful ongoing failure. Jacinta Price says out loud: we need accountability, not another immoveable scrum, unable to be dislodged for failure or corruption. It is this central thrust of her stance that the YES advocates find most disturbing.

  • Rob H says:

    Aborigines don’t have a culture anymore, they have a pretend one based on some of the stories they heard from grandparents and great grandparents.
    The fact remains that after 65,000 years (who really cares how long) the won the lottery by having Australia taken over by the British Empire that has given them and their children opportunities and benefits to access the knowledge of hundreds of other cultures that have grown up around the world.
    Their own young people have abandoned the old culture everywhere but are kept ignorant of how to take advantage of the new culture by the “sit down” culture imposed by our politicians and bureaucrats who think there is something to save in this dead stone age culture. There isn’t.

  • Stephen Due says:

    I remain mystified as to why the Voice should be put in the Constitution. On my (no doubt naive) reading of the Constitition, it is all about defining our system of government: it defines the governing bodies – their membership and their powers – and the legal system under which our activities are regulated. There is no logical reason why an entity such as the Voice should be included – it is irrelevant to the purpose of the document.
    Presumably the parliament can seek the advice of anyone it wants advice from, and anyone can offer the parliament unsolicited advice. If the parliament wants advice from people of a particular race, let the parliament form the advisory body. If people of that race have something to say collectively to the parliament, let them make whatever representations they deem necessary.
    Given the alleged aims of the Voice, changing the constitution to achieve them is patently unnecesary. One suspects, therefore, either irrational advocacy, or an ulterior motive, or both.

    • guilfoyle says:

      That is a brilliant point, and one which is never uttered by the ‘No’ side. Why do we not have a politician who articulates that point and states that there is a hidden agenda? Why do we have politicians who equivocate and speak in timorous, cowardly phrases? Why do we not have any politicians (except for Jacinta Price), who actually point out the agendas behind these various incursions into our culture? In saying this, I am not confining my complaints to the Voice: there is no politician who simply stands up and says it straight when obviously immoral or disingenuous motives are behind the multiple faux outrages that are presented so as to warrant complete disintegration of our society’s values.
      Are they really afraid of media attack? Is it the process, as outlined by Peter Smith, that smudges their moral outlines?
      Anybody who has legal experience and who has dealt with various of the ‘activists’ will tell you that the issue is not the issue, but is a hook for an objective that is down the track – that is basic socialist tactics, from the time of Engels on. The fact that we do not have a single politician of intelligence/education/or courage enough to point out the motives behind these onslaughts to our culture is awful. The fact that we have so-called ‘conservative’ party politicians who float where the media tells them the wind is blowing is actually quite a threat to our democratic process.


    The Libs and Nats are too mild mannered to play real, winning hard ball. They act like Clark Kent going into the phone box but forgetting to change into the red cape and muscle shirt.

  • Ian Bruce says:

    Firstly, let me take exception to your statement that the PM is “entitled to our respect”. Respect is not an entitlement, but, and I’m sure Peter O’Brien will agree, something that must be earned. After all, as a fellow former officer, I am sure that he also had to earn the respect of his soldiers and superiors. Likewise, any person in a position of responsibility needs to earn the respect of the others under their leadership, if they are to be believed and followed. Personally, Albanese couldn’t lead me through a McDonald’s drive thru.
    Your comment that the whole “idea” for the Voice was created under the former LNP PM Turnbull is telling, although it has been shown that Turnbull, like all good salesmen, only found his way to the top by taking advantage of factionalism within the Liberal Party. He is after all, a close friend of Paul Keating and through his “newspaper” The Guardian has regularly given Kevin Rudd a pulpit from which to bash the rest of Australia for his perceived “wronging”. It has been reported that Turnbull actually sought ALP support to be elected as a MP, but wasn’t, and thus he joined the Libs instead. His only goal was always to get the top job, no matter who he had to roll in the process.
    The entire Voice proposal is intrinsically socialist in that it seeks to divide the population and create a new “elite”. My greatest concern is the aftermath of this ill conceived referendum: how will the population re-integrate after this divisive poll? I am sure that if the No vote is successful, whilst we might have avoided the bullet, we’ll still be abused by the “Fantastic Four” (Davis, Pearson, Mayo/r and Langton) that we are all racists, rednecks, stupid etc etc etc. Such a position will not engender a reconciliation of the country. If, on the other hand, the Yes side gets up, it will lead to ill feeling between those who claim “aboriginality” and the rest of the Australian population once the rest can see the actual outcome of this policy. Rest assured, when the “Voice” comes knocking on your door for “rent”, “reparations” and even your land, there will be Hell to pay.

  • Hugh Jaase says:

    The Voice to Parliament IS about treaty (whatever that actually represents) and more frightening, reparations ie; money. And lots of it.
    Perhaps we need to ask “yes” voters why we need to pay money we don’t have, to people we have never met, for things we haven’t done. Madness.

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