The Voice

It’s Just not Working, not Even with John Farnham

I have never been invited to endorse a product.  But I am open to offers.  And by the way, my fees would be commensurate with my fame, so an absolute bargain for a struggling cash-poor start-up, say a new coal fired power plant in Victoria. 

But if I were made an offer, I would like to think I would take serious steps to ensure the product I was endorsing actually did what it claimed.  For example, that the shaver I was promoting actually did make my aged legs feel so silky and smooth.  I am sure you would too.  Hold that thought.

In 1972, Gough Whitlam beguiled us by having Little Patty, Col Joye and many others, sing the rousing anthem, It’s Time.  And look how that turned out.

Now, fifty years later, we find ourselves in a similar situation and, I fear, the result may be eerily similar.  That is, if the referendum gets up.

Leading up to the launch of the Yes campaign, and highlighted therein, we have been told that every sporting code, all the major corporates and the main religions support the Voice.  Not much in the way of detail about how this will be implemented, any idea of what it will cost in the long term or the results of any rigorous research showing how it will achieve the results being promised.  As far as the latter is concerned it seems to be summed up as ‘What we’ve done so far hasn’t worked, so why not give this a whirl?’.   Clearly Albo thought this would be a convincing approach.

But, given the downward spiralling of Voice polling,  the PM must have been wondering ‘are Shaquille O’Neal, Jonathon Thurston, Adam Goodes, Alan Joyce and Archbishop Mark Coleridge (Archbishop who?, I hear you ask – and what price the separation of church and state) really enough?  Is there a secret weapon we can deploy, something involving a ‘V’, something like, oh I don’t know, the V2 rocket?’

I had been wondering when the synergy between the Voice and John Farnham might prove irresistible to the Yes campaign and, as it turned out, all it needed was the announcement of the much loved performer’s clean bill of health. So, Albo’s thinking was ‘What we’ve tried so far hasn’t worked, so let’s do more of the same’.

Now Farnham has copped some flack on social media, some of it quite ugly.  But I have no major issue with Farnham.  It has been reported that he received no payment for his endorsement, and I am sure he genuinely believes in the cause, but did he really examine the proposal that he could be instrumental in selling to a gullible section of the Australian public?   Did he look at the No Case, which is now available through the Referendum Yes/No Case booklet?  Did he consult with, say, Warren Mundine or Jacinta Price?  Surely such a major change to the Constitution would suggest at least a certain amount of due diligence? I would guess not, but let’s leave him alone.  It’s Albanese with whom I take issue.

But, before I get to that, I wonder why he hasn’t gone for the Voice trifecta? Why hold a costly referendum which you might lose because dumb racist Australians are tricked into reading Document 14 (aka the non-Readers Digest Uluru Statement) when you can sign up to The Voice franchise?  You could have Warren Mundine and Noel Pearson each sing their version of ‘We are Australian’ and see how many chairs they turn.  Picking a suitable judging panel shouldn’t be too much of a problem, although by all accounts you would want to avoid Marilyn Manson.

But wait.  I forgot Section 128. That’s the one designed to ensure the Constitution cannot be changed at whim.  In the words of Quick and Garran:

These safeguards [e.g., the double majority] have been provided, not in order to prevent or indefinitely, resist change in any direction, but in order to prevent change being made in haste or by stealth, to encourage public discussion, and to delay change, until there is strong evidence that it is desirable, irresistible, and inevitable.

Now, I know that Quick and Garran are not judges of the High Court, but they have been regarded since 1901 as the peerless authority on what was intended by the founding fathers who drafted the Constitution and those who voted for it. 

This Voice proposal has been in the public consciousness for some years now, but for most of that time has been more background noise than considered debate.  It fails Quick’s and Garran’s tests. The first, desirability, is fiercely contested.  That makes the first two irrelevant.  And public discussion has been stifled by the invective heaped on those who have been raising legitimate questions.  The weapons the Yes case seem to rely on are charges of racism and misinformation.

Now that the date has been set and the Yes campaign officially launched, they should be forced to do better.  We should expect serious debate between both camps.  Yes, the official Yes/No Case booklet has been distributed.  But there needs to be more. One might think, for instance, that Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney would be dead keen to debate Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, yet she has run scared from any such encounter.

In a general election it has become common practice for the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader to have at least one public, moderated debate. These are now the two main representatives of each side of this issue and there should be a proper debate, not just mutual slanging and slagging in Question Time, which is a turn-off for most people.  The Voice is more consequential than a general election.  Its outcome will be with us forever.

Albanese is ducking and weaving, relying on John Farnham and the virtually faceless men of Big Sport and Big Business to do his talking for him.  What a coward.  This is not a popularity contest. Voice opponents are wont to say, ‘If you don’t know, vote No’.  I prefer ‘If you don’t know, find out’.  That’s where my book The Indigenous Voice to Parliament – the No Case comes in. The best Albanese can come up with is ‘If you don’t know, just listen to your betters’.

I derive some satisfaction in the knowledge that I have lived in the era of the steam train, bread and milk being delivered by horse-drawn vans and the outdoor dunny.

Now I derive some perverse satisfaction in being able to say I am living in the era of the worst federal minister (Chris ‘renewables are the cheapest form of energy’ Bowen) and the most feckless Prime Minister in our history.  What a quinella.

31 thoughts on “It’s Just not Working, not Even with John Farnham

  • Brian Boru says:

    I have confidence that Australians are smart enough not to trash our egalitarian way of life.
    I think that Sadie the Cleaning Lady will be now spreading the vote NO message as she goes about her job.

  • pgang says:

    There’s now a date for this travesty of time wasting? Ha ha, shows how much I care. I think most Australians join me in that. What an utter load of billocks the whole thing is.
    I have news from the street. Even those people who were happy to mask up and lock down and de-educate their own children, or say yes to the destruction of marriage, or throw their support behind net zero; these very same sheeple are throwing up their arms in disgust at this latest farce. Yes folks, the word is that the parents of our son’s school mates are sick to death of it and are voting no.

    • mrsfarley2001 says:

      Yep: getting a similar message from my grandchildren – all the teachers at school wore “Yes” propaganda shirts at the Sports Day, but lots of the parents are voting “No”.

  • March says:

    I thought a competition on some new Voice lyrics is warranted . My entry…. a little clunky perhaps but captures the spirit.

    “You’re the Voice”

    We’ve had a chance to turn all your pages over
    It’s not just one page, but volumes that read like racketeering,
    It’s all about paying the rent, reparations and a Makarrata spearing.

    We’re all someone’s daughter
    We’re all someone’s son
    We all live in this country together
    Yeah, we are all Australian

    You want a Voice, we can’t understand it
    So much noise and it’s not clear.
    No, No, No-oh, Oh- No, No, No-oh
    We’re not gonna sit in silence
    We’re not gonna live with fear
    No, No, No-oh, No, No, No-oh

    This time, we know we all can stand together
    With the power to say NO to the powerful
    Together we can make it better

    No No NOoooh

    We’re all someone’s daughter
    We’re all someone’s son
    We all live in this country together
    Yeah, we are all Australian

    You have a Voice, try and understand it
    One voice, one vote that makes it clear.
    So … No, No, No-oh, No, No-oh
    With an equal say and equal rights
    Our constitution is out of sight.
    So … No, No, No-oh,

    We’re all someone’s daughter
    We’re all someone’s son
    We all live in this country together
    Yeah, we’re all Australian

    So now we’ve turned all your pages over
    And we know it’s not just one page,
    but demands that sound like racketeering,
    So it’s a No to paying your rent,
    no to reparations and it’s No to a Makarrata spearing.

    Vote No, No, No-oh, No, No, No-oh [4x]

  • lbloveday says:

    Quote: “Its outcome will be with us forever”.
    I’ve read that claim in various forms a number of times, but never a satisfactory explanation of why it is so.
    In reply to Peta Credlin’s “constitutional change is for keeps, while what one government does, another government can undo”, I commented:.
    “A change to the constitution effected by one referendum can be removed or amended by a subsequent referendum – viz what one referendum does, another referendum can undo”.
    Another responded that my comment displayed “naive stupidity”; I’d had my say and did not take issue.
    Can someone more competently explain why I am wrong and Mr O’Brien and Ms Credlin correct.

    • Peter OBrien says:

      8 out of 44 referendums successful. If this one gets up and turns out to be dud and Aboriginal activists oppose its repeal, what odds it would join the 44?

      • lbloveday says:

        I’ve made a life out of calculating odds, but am not inclined to try my hand at that.
        What I do know for certain is that “forever” and “for keeps” claim a certainty for something that is not certain.
        “”It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future”, but to claim certainty about the future as you two, and many more, have is not justified. It is not 100% certain that will be the case, and the chances of a subsequent referendum repealing the change made in consequence of a previous referendum is not zero.
        It may be a very long shot but long shots are always getting up – the odds of a single ticket winning Mega Millions’ top prize are 1 in 300 million, but every now and then someone wins.

    • Rebekah Meredith says:

      Absolutely right, lbloveday. “Permanent” or “forever” may be practically true, or for all intents and purposes true, or theoretically true, but they AREN’T true. We criticize the other side for scare campaigns and lying; how much more obligated are we to ensure that we are telling the truth! There are plenty of frightening things that can be said about the voice that ARE perfectly true, without using a handy one-word term that is not true.

      • lbloveday says:

        Yesterday a long-term friend asked me:
        “Is it that things are much worse than they used to be or that the errors are just more visible to us now?”
        My reply was
        “Yes, worse, in line with society’s increasing lack of attention to detail.”
        Front page article in today’s Daily Telegraph included:
        “More than 280 teenagers, some as young as 12….

  • Paul.Harrison says:

    I am very naive but methinks there is something on the nose about the entire ‘Voice’ affair. My naivety shows through when I propose that a great many good and agile minds have prodded, pushed and poked the ‘Voice’ campaign over a great deal of time and talk, to the point where they are now ready to put it to the people. These good and agile minds range from the Prime Minister to the Man in the Street and all have had their say. Perhaps here I need to assure you, dear reader, that the words ‘good’ and ‘agile’ may equally be used to describe my enemies. Anyway, onwards, as they say. Now it is my personal opinion that these good and agile minds have made such a dog’s breakfast of their proposal, that the stink I detect is one of a deliberate campaign to force a loss. Why they would do this beggars belief but I can see a Referendum coming for the Republic, because the system just would not work in favour of those ‘good’ and ‘agile’ minds, so let us throw it out for good, and their Holy Grail, our Constitution, will go with it.

  • Tony Tea says:

    ‘What we’ve done so far hasn’t worked, so why not give this a whirl?’.
    What we’ve done so far hasn’t worked, so let’s enshrine what doesn’t work into the Constitution.

  • Sindri says:

    Spare us a TV “debate”. Not only are the real issues in a TV “debate” trivialised and oversimplified (inevitably, because of time constraints), but the result significantly depends on how telegenic the proponents are. It is a beauty contest, and not even a “debate”.

  • tkillen says:

    I am an emphatic No but the pity of this is Yes or No we are a divided people, at least for a period.
    Albanese’s will be a one term govt, other policies eg energy IR should bring him down anyway but the electorate, especially migrants, will never forgive the Voice adventure.

  • Alistair says:

    I would just like to point out that the last “successful” referendum relating to Aborigines (1967) in fact marked the beginning of the worst period for Aborigines since the arrival of small pox – the explosion of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, youth suicide, Aboriginal incarceration, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, community dysfunction, illiteracy, innumeracy, …
    If you are happy to rate that as a “success” then I suspect the next “successful” referendum will see them off completely!

    • Gerry Van Hees says:

      The main issue probably relates to the fact that the assimilation policies begun in the early sixties were dismantled in the 70s thus encouraging people to live in remote communities with the consequent and foreseeable lack of resources. Also the fact that the union movements agitated for increased pay for aboriginal people working as stock and station hands even though they had food and lodgings commensurate with the work they did. Owners and employers could not afford to defer to these conditions, consequently the sit down generation began.

    • Robert Kennedy says:

      Alistair, domestic violence, child abuse etc.etc are all part of the tribal aborigine’s culture. Before the missionaries “civilised” them, head-hunting and cannabalism was the order of the day. It was much easier to eat your enemies than to spear a kangaroo. As for child abuse, un-wanted children were either killed or starved to death.
      The settlers did kill some aborigines, but the number killed by them, pales into insignificience compared to the number killed by other aborigines.

  • gilmay97 says:

    My old mates aboriginal and migrants, now all gone and I’m 80, on ANZAC day we stood side by side and saluted OUR Australian Flag — good mates and proud Aussies — Bruno, our Italian mate flew our flag in his garden, very proud he and his family were accepted as Aussies.
    My family were a mixed bunch of farmers, convicts, pioneers and hard workers, from Wales and Scotland, my wife’s ancestors were Vikings, Germans and her dad a Manx Man, they came here with nothing other than determination to have a go, work hard and raise a family. And our ancestors enlisted and went to war to fight for their new country, and many never came home, others badly wounded — as a community we looked after them; Dad went across the road to the two old WW1 veterans and gave them a regular haircut and trimmed old George’s moustache.
    My dad and his friends, sponsored migrant families, from Holland, Scotland and Germany — we were lifelong friends that respected and saluted our one flag — Old ‘Bluey’.
    At school every Monday morning we lined up saluted the flag and recited the ‘Pledge’. We grew up as one race — Aussies: A mixed motley bunch of kids from parents of mixed nationality — and good friends.
    A chap told us of his grandson being best mates with an Australian boy with dark skin, one with yellow hair and blue eyes, the other with black hair and brown eyes. His black-haired mate was asked if his family ever commented about their differences, he put his arm around his blue-eyed mate and said “He doesn’t know I’m black”.
    And that is the way it should be today, without trying to divide our nation with recognition of one group over others, we are people from 238 different countries who call Australia home — we are all Aussies together. We should only have one flag and one constitution that recognizes us all as equal Australians, as it is now.
    Do not destroy what our ancestors worked, fought and died for, there appears a terrible affliction that is upon those in government and amongst so many in our society that they want to divide Australia, locking a festering division into the constitution forever.
    The future division may well see the greatness and generosity of our nation in times of disaster and tragedy carried into who will help who, along the lines of racial division the government is trying to implement.
    We already have a racial land division of Australia where 75.8% is under Aboriginal control — this must be returned for ALL people to use. Your children only have 24.2% of Australian land for their future — with more Native Title applications in process
    We must remain good mates and stand together as Aussies under ONE flag — Stop this maniacal division of Australian land and minds.
    VOTE ‘NO’ — For Australian Unity — Under One Flag — Old ‘Bluey’.

    • Rebekah Meredith says:

      What was the Pledge to which you refer? I’ve sometimes wondered if there would be merit in having something Australian along the lines of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance, but it seemed silly to just make up an imitation.

      • Louis Cook says:

        The pledge was – I love God and My Country
        I will honour the Flag and serve the King
        And cheerfully obey my parents, teachers, and the Laws.

        Please note the correct order of the words.
        Teachers was not school teachers BUT ALL teachers.
        The operative words ARE CHEERFULLY OBEY.
        How could this pledge be brought back today?

  • jbhackett says:

    Having distributed almost 7,000 bumper stickers for the Vote No side (since Quadrant published my story about Josie saving Australia with bumper stickers last October), it’s a welcome relief for me to read your words, Peter. What a breath of fresh air! Just thinking about your aged silky-smooth legs cheered me up no end, and lifted my mind from the ugly mire that this referendum has become.

  • pmprociv says:

    You undersell yourself, Peter — even though endowed with naturally-short leg hair, I’d buy a shaver you recommended any day.

    But your mention of the V2 rocket over-sells the Yes campaign — it’s more like the V1 “doodle-bug”, that sputtered along loudly while there was still fuel in its tank, then crashed haphazardly.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    To me, the Voice campaign is the most important project of the Marxist left in our history. If it is successful, they will have created a veritable cornucopia of opportunities to destroy our society which is their long term aim. Anyone who thinks that the “representatives” of the Aboriginal peoples will be anyone other than extremist activists has not been paying attention to the corruption of previous Aboriginal organisations like ATSIC.
    These fanatics will have the means of vetting every single piece of legislation being put to Parliament, and they will certainly do so.

  • Paul from Sydney says:

    Agreed. Your church-state separation side bar is a little unfair (churches are allowed to have an opinion even the wrong one) but if you are really worried about church-state separation consider that the (1 page) Uluru Statement starts with the claim that the Aboriginal right to their land is due to a ‘spiritual’ connection. It is literally a religious claim to prior ownership and entitlement. We are being asked to endorse this religion. We should respect faith, especially those that have made us what we are, but to build our consitution or any future immutable arrangement around it – ? This is huge and gets little attention.

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