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