The Voice

Justice Kirby Could Have Told Them…

It was two pints of ale into the evening when I was asked the question I had been expecting for some time: “What do you think about this Voice referendum?”

My companion at the pub, a distinguished visiting professor from Britain, would have been in no doubt about the answer given the present kulturkampf in Inner Sydney. From the multitude of Yes T-shirts, Yes lapel badges, Yes corflutes, Yes electronic signage, Yes flags, the monolithic Yes position in the respectable media, in academe, in … well, you get the idea.

I simply said, “Irrespective of the merits of the argument, No will win”. Had I been a bit more confident, I would have gone further and said that I expected No would win in every state.

“No will win because of two reasons – the small ‘c’ conservative nature of Australian voters. And the Yes campaign has broken every single one of the Kirby Rules.”

Having been involved in politics as an amateur and professional for more than three decades, I am fascinated by what motivates people to vote a certain way. Unlocking that secret is the key to electoral victory. While working in Canberra for the Howard Government, I was deeply involved, but in a non-partisan way, with the 1999 Republic Referendum.

After the 1999 Referendum, much was said and written about why a country which (according to opinion polls) wanted to become a republic gave such a resounding thumbs down when offered the chance to do so. Much of what was said and written was garbage, self-justificatory bunkum from both the winning and losing sides. But there was a piece of work which resonated as a true understanding of voter behaviour in the campaign.

The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG is a former judge of the High Court of Australia. On almost all social issues he holds what one would fairly describe as Progressive Left values, including on Aboriginal affairs, where he wrote the lone dissenting judgement in the infamous Hindmarsh Island Bridge Case (see Quadrant, Vol.43, no.12). But on one particular issue he found himself at odds with the Progressive Left – he was a constitutional monarchist.

After the 1999 Referendum, Kirby posed the question: “What did the republicans get wrong in their campaign?” and he identified ten reasons why the Yes vote failed. It is my argument that the current Yes campaign has replicated (in substance or in fashion) every single one of these errors.

1 – The partisan error

Kirby: The lesson of formal constitutional alteration in Australia is that, without affirmative support by all the major players in the political debates, there is little or no chance of securing the majorities required to amend the Constitution. Even with such support, there is no guarantee that the electors will agree to the proposal.

This entirely squares with analyses of voter behaviour in Australia. Without assurances from across the political spectrum that a proposal is a ‘safe and uncontroversial’ option, then the default position for unengaged voters will be to oppose it. As RMIT’s Prof Sinclair Davidson has noted in his work in relation to the 1999 Referendum, Australians are risk-minimisers, not gain-maximisers when it comes to voter choice. Overcoming that obstacle is the key to much of today’s political campaigning, as Bill Shorten found to his chagrin in 2019. Moreover, added Kirby:

On the evidence of past referenda, any attempt to change the Constitution for party political advantage would be bound to attract the scepticism of the people. It would fail to build the coalition necessary to achieve the dual majorities required by s 128.

It is clear that there was a political meta-strategy from the Labor Party behind the referendum campaign. When support for the Voice was riding high at 70 per cen, there was a natural inclination to push it and push it hard. Governments remain popular by not only doing popular things, but by supporting popular opinions. The ability to ‘hitch your wagon’ to a proposal which had overwhelming support was just too tempting to resist.

Moreover, the prospect of driving a wedge between the conservative and moderate wings of the Liberal Party was just equally tempting for the curent Prime Minister who, as he once proudly proclaimed, has “spent his whole life fighting Tories”.

2 – The haste error

Kirby: To change the Australian Constitution in such a significant respect, within the space, effectively, of five years, imposed requirements of comprehension and adaptation to change which proved unacceptable to the majority of the Australian electors.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is six years old. That there would be a referendum was only made clear one year ago. And the final wording of the question was only announced six months ago. And still there is no draft legislation publicly available. Kirby continues:

… to many Australians, there was no urgency for such a change which was bound to upset a significant number of citizens … Until such a change is regarded as ‘desirable, irresistible, and inevitable’, there are powerful reasons to hasten slowly in such matters. Impatience for change which is seen as based on ethical and moral principles, is sometimes understandable. However, in the business of constitutional alteration in Australia, such impatience must tempered by a respect for the process and by the need to allow time for that process to become tolerated, even if not welcomed, by those who will lose out.

One of the key tactical errors of the Yes campaign has been asking people to buy their product sight unseen. It would have been possible to legislate the Voice, and for the community to have observed it in action. If they liked what they saw, there is every reason to believe the Australian community would have subsequently agreed to constitutional entrenchment.

I leave it to readers to speculate on why this moderate, gradualist approach was not taken – especially given that such an approach was explicitly endorsed by Voice activists previously.

3 – The elitist error

Kirby: The post-referendum analysis of the voting patterns throughout Australia indicated the way in which the republican proposal divided the electors. The country against the cities. The small States against the big States. The high-income earners against the ‘battlers’. The educated elite against those who had lost their economic advantages in the structural adjustments which had occurred in recent times in Australia and under successive governments.

While one should not put too much faith in quantitative political polls these days, it is undeniable that these same trends are quite pronounced in recent polling. The further you move away from the cities, the bigger the No vote gets. And amongst non-Aboriginal voters, the campaign has devolved in a Brexit-style signifier of class solidarity – a rich, educated elite for whom overt support for the Yes campaign is both an indulgence and a badge of moral superiority versus a working class which, even more in 2023 than in 1999, struggles with more prosaic issues like mortgages, groceries, fuel and utilities’ bills.

Kirby concludes:

Clearly enough, the alteration was seen by many as an unnecessary distraction from really important issues and one that was being pressed on the nation by an urban elite out of touch with the values concerns of other citizens. All referenda are ‘elite driven’, however, to secure the requisite support amongst the electors of Australia, proponents of change must somehow secure the understanding and support of a wide range of ordinary citizens. On big issues this imposes a heavy burden.

A burden which the current Yes campaign has failed utterly to take up. Their anti-slogan of “If you don’t know, inform yourself” not only reeks of smug condescension, but prompts the immediate questions: Why should I bother? Isn’t it the job of advocates to make a persuasive case?

4 – The patriotism error

Kirby: Some republican advocates, before and after the vote, denigrated those who did not agree to the proposed change as somehow less patriotic and even un-Australian. Some of the supporters of the republic could not accept that others disagreed with perception of the needs for Australia’s good governance of the change proposed…

Supporters of the No case have been repeatedly upbraided as ‘stupid’, ‘ignorant’ and ‘racist’. The modern omnipresence of recording devices, even in setting where people think you can speak with impunity, has made the collecting and dissemination of utterance available to all. We all remember Hillary Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables’ comment – including the implicit education/class snobbery involved – and not even the subsequent back-sliding and equivocation by those caught out has removed the taint from the Yes campaign. One is hardly mollified to be told by one’s supposed betters: “Oh, I don’t mean that you are stupid racist, I just mean that you are susceptible to stupid and racist arguments”. Kirby continues:

To upbraid half the people of a nation, or at least a good portion of them, as ‘unpatriotic’ because they do not happen to agree with a proposal, is a sure way in a country such as Australia to alienate them. Yet this was a theme of the advertisements and some of arguments urging an affirmative vote.

Substitute the words “racist” or “stupid” or “dickheads” in place of “unpatriotic” and you can see a possible reason for why support for the Voice has collapsed as precipitously as it has done.

5 – The Convention error

Kirby: The Constitutional Convention which finally, but narrowly, settled the republican model that was put to the Australian people obviously operated within significant constraints … [they] had to endeavour to secure a consensus … [and] the haste and unwillingness to explore and forge links with republicans of different persuasions … Once that proposal became adopted by the Constitutional Convention it became anointed, not only by ARM but by the media and various celebrities and notables.

There is no doubt the Uluru process was flawed in very significant ways. We know from the various consultation session records that the final report deliberately chose to exclude a range of more radical, more moderate, and more sceptical voices within Aboriginal communities.  If you go outside Old Parliament House in Canberra, you will see a large sign in front of the ‘Aboriginal Tent Embassy’ which proclaims: “We deserve more than a Voice: VOTE NO!” The dissenters have not gone away, whether they be in the style of Senator Lidia Thorpe or Sen Jacinta Nampijinpa Price. Even the media cannot ignore (although it usually derides) such dissent.

Moreover, the fact that Yes proponents cannot even agree on the length of the ‘Statement from the Heart’ – is it one page? Is it 26 pages? Is it 112 pages? Is the one-pager a stand-alone document or does it need to be read in conjunction with the other 25 pages to be properly understood? As Kirby said of the 1999 policy-development process, it has been “precisely the kind of image likely to engender popular suspicion”.

6 – The model error

Kirby: This is not the occasion to canvass all of the criticism of the republican model which was put to the electors in 1999. Critics certainly raised many false issues. However, if such matters are put to one side, there remained genuine concerns about the proposed alterations. They worried informed critics.

I will not go into any criticism of the proposed Voice from a legal, philosophical, or constitutional standpoint. That has been done my many other more capable writers in, particularly, this journal’s special online August edition. Suffice it to say there has been a wide range of genuine and sincere criticism of the proposed changes which does not in any way involve ‘racism’ or ‘stupidity’. Kirby continues:

For those who urged acceptance of the model, even if defective, on the promise of later amendment and improvement … the spectre of the difficulty of securing later change loomed large. Even electors generally sympathetic to the idea of a republic could therefore rationally reject the proposed model.

Again, in current circumstances, the response trotted out by the Yes campaign to criticisms that the Voice is untried and unproven – something which, once again, could have been ameliorated by a previously-legislated Voice – is that the legislation can be changed to make it work better. But voters know that it will still be there in the Constitution, barring a further referendum. They are not going to vote to entrench ‘now and forever’ something which might be terrible because, as previously noted, Australian voters are risk-minimisers not gain-maximisers.

7 – The pundit error

Kirby: The ARM strategy, linked with that of the Conservatives for an Australian Head of State, involved calling upon a number of ‘names’ well-known to the Australian people to support their cause.

Kirby’s criticism of the 1999 campaign in its use of senior judicial and political figures for ‘argument by authority’ has devolved even further. In 2023, we not only have the ‘usual suspects’ from progressive legal academia, but also John Farnham, Cathy Freeman, Jimmy Barnes, all those footy people, media personalities, TV hosts, miserable ghosts Malcom, Kevin and Julia, and … even a slightly befuddled American ex-NBA player. We are treated to a cavalcade of public figures, diving in to add their ‘star presence’ to the campaign. It is difficult to even criticise the 2023 coterie for falling into the fallacy of ‘argument by authority’ because it is even worse than that – it is argument by notability: “Adam Goodes says this is good, so it is good, so just vote Yes”. No wonder the Yes message is failing.

8 – The small state error

Kirby: The post-referendum scrutiny of the voting for the republic largely concentrated upon the national vote. However, the truly serious figures for those who hoped for change appear to lie in the high negative votes in the states of Australia with smaller populations.

The nature of Australian referendums is that they require a double majority to succeed – a majority of people overall, and a majority of the states. While the usual caveats apply to modern polling results, it is worth noting that, once again, the Yes campaign is doing particularly badly in Qld, WA, and SA. Whether the Yes campaign is actively targeting these states remains unknown, but there were media reports that the No campaign was specifically targeting SA and Tasmania to shore up support among a total of 2.4 million voters. If Yes has been targeting the smaller states, then clearly their messaging has been inappropriate and unpopular, given the result.

9 – The media error

Kirby: There were no real exceptions to the affirmative editorial line on the republic followed by the Australian media. Even the national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, in the opinion of many ACM observers, exhibited substantial bias in favour of the republic proposal and against the constitutional status quo. The print media, with virtual unanimity (a few isolated columnists apart) advocated change to a republic and support for the ‘minimalist’ model proposed.

I doubt that there would be any disagreement with the assertion that this situation of media groupthink is just as true for the 2023 referendum. Even my own university has moved to officially and publicly support the Yes campaign. While my Vice-Chancellor has said that all points of view should be listened to as part of a respectful debate, such assurances have the flavour of the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet asking, in 1936, if anyone would like to proffer some constructive criticism of Comrade Stalin’s leadership. Active dissent against institutional orthodoxy rarely ends well for the dissident. Kirby continues:

So uneven and biased was the media coverage of the referendum issues that it almost certainly became part of the problem for support for the republic in Australia. It tended to reinforce opinions, especially amongst lower income and rural electors, that this was a push by intellectual, well-off east-coasters, not necessarily to be trusted by the rest of the nation.

Well, yes indeed.

10 – The republican problem

Kirby: The electors of Australia are now better informed about the issue of republicanism than they were when Mr Keating first raised it. A non-binding plebiscite on the general question of whether Australia should become a republic might have been a useful strategy in 1995. Now it might seem to some to be unduly naive or even manipulative.

The same could be said of the proposal to legislate the Voice if the referendum fails. The activists had one shot in the locker and they blew it. They could have legislated beforehand but chose not to do so. Any subsequently legislated non-constitutional Voice will either be a policy failure, in which case electors have every reason to feel vindicated, or it will be sufficiently anodyne such that voters will say, ‘The government had to fix it because we said “no” them to their proposal’. Either way, it is not pretty for those who seek to increase public trust in government.

Looking ahead from 1999, Kirby concludes:

These are the reasons why republicans in Australia are, and for a time must remain, in a kind of electoral gridlock. The reasons illustrate the fundamental dilemma which the republican cause faces in Australia at this time. Addressing these issues, the perils of divisiveness, not to say the costs and distractions of repeated proposals, as well as the constitutional difficulties of achieving change, will probably persuade all but the most intrepid that it is best to leave things alone for the time being. However, the future may bring a new momentum with different players and different urgency.

Kirby’s analysis was correct at the time, and its resonance today is obvious. Every one of the ten mistakes of the Yes campaign he identified in 1999 have been replicated, to a greater or lesser degree by the Yes campaign in 2023. It came as a surprise for a political junkie like me that this has occurred. In politics you learn from the mistakes of past campaign mistakes if you want to win future ones.

It is also unsurprising, at least to me, that the Progressive Left in Australia never feels the need to learn from their mistakes. They live in safe-spaces and echo-chambers where “everybody I know is voting Yes” and every piece of media that they self-select pushes an identical policy agenda. Their capacity for debate (and hence the ability to win over middle-ground and unaligned voters) has been lost because there is never any deviation in their private or public lives from the ‘official line’. They are then forced to rationalise any dissent as the result of ignorance (‘Stupid’) or malice (‘Racism’).

They lost in 1999 for the reasons Michael Kirby identified, and they will lose in 2023 because they have ignored those same ten campaigning errors. But they will not change their ways. They cannot change their ways. Their self-righteousness is ingrained in childhood and never challenged. Like the Bourbons of the French restoration, the Progressive Left have “learnt nothing and forgotten nothing”.

Persimmon is the pseudonym of a political veteran and academic who is all too aware, as he writes above, that “active dissent against institutional orthodoxy rarely ends well for the dissident”

32 thoughts on “Justice Kirby Could Have Told Them…

  • lbloveday says:

    I started reading Robert French’s, ex-Chief Justice HCA, article on The Voice referendum in The Australian, expecting some legal elaboration/explanation/opinion, but stopped after the first 3 sentences, which read like the “history” my daughter was taught in Primary School:
    The Australian continent is covered with the intricate lacework of the age-old stories of the Dreaming. They explain the shaping of the landscape and the relationship of First Peoples to it and to each other.
    The stories told orally, in ceremony and in art provide a picture of a powerful, living culture existing over many millennia.

    • DougD says:

      French lost me with his confident claim that under sec 129 iii, ” The parliament can determine to whom and how representations can be made. It is not required to allow representations to be made to any person or authority engaged in the work of the executive government, which could cover a spectrum from the governor-general to ministers of the crown and a vast array of public officials.”
      He thinks that if parliament bars the Voice from making representations to eg Centrelink officials, that wouldn’t breach the unqualified promise in the dominant sec 129 ii of the Constitution that the “Voice may make representations to … the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”. Even an activist High Court would have difficulty agreeing with that.

    • Occidental says:

      I tried in three separate posts to the Australian, each becoming more humble, to implore readers to read French’s bio before accepting his argument as a nuetral opinion. The last read –
      “ I implore all readers here to read Robert French’s bio page on wiki to get an understanding of his background and his ideology before accepting that his opinion is an unbiased one.” – rejected.

    • Robert Borsak says:

      A living culture indeed but an inferior Stone Age one to our modern Western democratic liberal, Judaeo/Christian tradition evolved culture that lives and governs our current society and community that we have now. At best the Aboriginal culture is a curiosity, at worst its just humbug. The so called “aboriginal leaders” have used it with their white Left boosters to humbug their way to the Voice referendum. But in the end, bullshit does not baffle brains.

  • Tony Tea says:

    “I leave it to readers to speculate on why this moderate, gradualist approach was not taken – especially given that such an approach was explicitly endorsed by Voice activists previously.”
    Allow me to speculate. Albanese saw the support for the voice and recognition at 70% and mistook the 70% for the voice, when in fact, it was mostly about recognition. He claims with Kennedy chutzpah that he is having a referendum, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. This is rubbish. He thought YES was a doddle and he wouldn’t have to do much to land “on the right side of history.” (Chris Kenny has backed this pony, too.) And so Albo has tried to smuggle the voice through under cover of recognition, while doing as little of the difficult ground work as possible as he turns the referendum process into an election campaign with all its obfuscations, sophistry, pandering, cajolery insults, barracking and bullshit.

    • DougD says:

      Not just Albanese is to blame. Attorney-General Dreyfus met members of the referendum working group on 9 March, to ask that some words be added to one of the referendum questions “to guard against potential High Court challenges” when the Voice makes representations to any in the Executive Government. He gave the working group an advice by the Solicitor General that must have supported his request. That advice has never been made public. The working group told the Attorney General to go away. The activists controlling that group wouldn’t accept any restriction on the power offered by the opportunity to delay government action by consultation and litigation that they thought was within their grasp.

    • Michael Waugh says:

      I think you’ve got it to a T, Tony Tea : the rolled up question, which you answer before getting to the 3 provisions of s129.

    • Qtomcie says:

      ” …And so Albo has tried to smuggle the voice through under cover of recognition…” Apt description, Tony Tea.

  • ianl says:

    I lived through 1975 as a reasonably matured adult and subsequently came to appreciate the fine balance of power between the positions of PM and GG. In fact, I think this needlepoint is the true genius of the Australian Constitution as it constrains the power of both. Unidentified by Kirby (although not unknown to him, I think), one of the true motives for the Republican push was to hobble the capability of the GG to “interfere” if the Senate blocked Supply again. The giveaways for this view include Lord Waffle (Turnbull) persistently, petulantly, refusing to answer questions on this issue and more latterly, Andrews (Vic) pushing amendments through the Vic Parliaments hobbling the capability of the State Governor to “intervene” (as had previously happened in Vic a number of times). Revenge for ’75 …

    It is this deviousness (hiding true motive) that characterises the current YES campaign – at least, that is how a large number of people see it. As Persimmon points out here, trial Voice legislation before the Referendum question would have settled that, one way or the other.

    Large sections of the population trust neither Gov Executive nor the High Court. That is simply a fact which contradictory campaign bubbles only reinforce. Then the impact of Jacinta Price weighs in.

    As Persimmon says, the self-righteous Left will have none of that. Such people truly believe they are morally superior to the deplorables.

    • Brian Boru says:

      I agree with you ianl on the 1975 business. The paper by David Smith at the 28th conference of the Samuel Griffith Society, August 2016 is worth reading. David Smith reveals that the Labor Party itself had previously tried to force an election by refusing supply but had failed to get the numbers. He quotes Jack Kane saying he had been approached by Murphy for votes to do just that.

    • Occidental says:

      Well that might have been a motivation for the republicans, (ie to nobble the reserve powers), but Howard and many republicans were also wary of the French experience of what took place between the fourth and fifth republics. Howard was so frightened of a popularly elected model, that he ensured this was never on the table.

  • Brian Boru says:

    Thanks for this article, it all resonated with me and hopefully will be found to be correct. To take just one of his rules, the idea that Adam or Johnny or Jilly (whoever) should tell me how to vote is the greatest of turnoffs.
    I had not known about Kirby’s preference for our system of government and that’s one plus at least for him. I say that as a person who is not a great fan of the monarchy but who rather is concerned about the instability republicanism could bring.
    Something else I think I remember is Kirby saying was that there should be an internationally accepted process by which secessionist movements could be assessed. Such a process would prevent many wars, he said and I agreed. What a great idea but unfortunately an impractical dream.

  • lbloveday says:

    Janet Albrechtsen has an article in The Weekend Australian headed:
    “Indigenous voice to parliament: Laws pose threat to powers of the states”
    and yesterday
    ” Indigenous voice to parliament: The legal analysis the Yes camp won’t want you to read”
    in which she refers to a “36-page paper by constitutional law professor Nicholas Aroney from the University of Queensland and lawyer Peter Congdon from Ashurst Lawyers” and says it “should have been at the forefront of any discussion about the voice early on”.
    The paper can be downloaded at:

  • Greg Jeffs says:

    Why, if successfully legislated (or introduced by regulation or executive order) would it then follow that it could/should be put into the Constitution? If it worked as legislation, what would be the point of altering the Constitution? This is a spurious as the argument that goes “recognition would easily be accepted into the Constitution but the Voice would’nt”. We do not need to change the Constitution.
    If we must change the Constitution then let us remove the couple of remaining references to race – WITHOUT replacing them with something else.

    • Michael Waugh says:

      Fair point Greg Jeffs. But I imagine there is concern that if you remove s51(xxiv) you remove the power of the Commonwealth to pass beneficial legislation targetting indigenous people ??

      • Qtomcie says:

        This should not be of great concern. Beneficial legislation should be targeted on the basis on need, not race. Where there are needs that affect mainly (exclusively? – I doubt), the Aboriginal people, this could still be done on the basis of special need or disadvantage.

  • Alistair says:

    Excellent article – I just hope this proves correct on the day!

  • Paul.Harrison says:

    Dare I say it, that the ‘Yes’ campaign is doomed and dead in the water. That may be a little brash so I won’t. What I would ask is this: Will there be a republic referendum in the near future? This while the Left, or to be frank the Marxists, are on a roll, albeit with a failed Voice campaign. Am I alone in knowing that the jewel in the crown for the lot who adore Stalin is our Constitution, which alone protects us from tyranny of the worst kind? If I am correct, then that explains their reasons for bringing the Crown into disrepute at every opportunity for a very long time, thus camouflaging their efforts to obtain and remove the Constitution if and when the Republic referendum is called, and God forbid, succeeds.

  • Michael says:

    The crux of leftist ideology is the belief in its own, unique moral superiority and ultimate innocence.

  • Robert McMahon says:

    This is a timely piece. I would add to it that the Yes camp, having devised a detailed 26-page long rationale (agree with its content or not, it was a thorough treatise); and then, under apparent pressure from the PM to ‘dumb it down’ to match the one-page statement of aspirations, both disowned it and, worse, accused others of being conspiracists if they referred to it. This despite the 26 page document’s authors having pointed to in previous public interviews. That looked tricky and disingenuous, and frankly intellectually craven.

  • Davidovich says:

    When I saw this article was by a person using the pseudonym Persimmon, I wondered if he was of the astringent or non-astringent type. After reading this informative article I conclude he is definitely of the astringent type – sharp or invigorating.

    One thing which probably fits under the ‘patriotism’ error is the insistent and incessant ‘acknowledgement or welcome to country’ at just about every sporting event, local Council meetings, ANZAC Day memorial events, travelling by plane, you name it. Add in the smoking ceremonies and I am sure that all of this is highly offensive to many Australians.

    • Brian Boru says:

      It is offensive to me. I suggest to those who are offended that they should politely give voice to that by saying something like “don’t welcome me to my own country” or simply “I don’t agree”.
      If you acquiesce by not saying anything you will only be perpetuating this offensive practice.

  • Jack Brown says:

    Consider how in the Constitutional Monarchy of Australian newly appointed officers in the ADF swear allegiance to the Monarch and his or her heirs and successors whom they swear to defend and to whom all citizens are Subject. In a Republic the citizens are bound to the set of Public Things of value, or Commonwealth in English idiom, as used by QE2 when speaking of the British Commonwealth. In the context of the basis for a nation these have been Liberty / Equality / Fraternity in one example and Life / Liberty / Pursuit of Happiness in the US codified in its Constitution which the military officer swears to defend. The ARM never articulated any Commonwealth of Ideas and Values unique to Australia to which all citizens would owe allegiance instead of the Monarch. Instead by the form of the referendum we were to swear allegience to the lesser of two scoundrels which the political establishment put forward. No wonder it was a flop. In brief the Substance was never articulated, just the various options for Form.

    The Voice is much the same. The Form, a pretty sketchy one at that, has been put forward with no real articulation of Substance.

    IMO they are linked. True acknowledgement of Aboriginal culture going back 65000 years has to be about The Land and how Aboriginals survived by seeing themselves ‘of the Land’ but did not own the land, very much contrary to this concept of First Nations owning the land and for which rent is to be paid, whose history goes back just 6 years in this land.

    If there is to be a true Republic and Voice given to Aboriginal people and culture then that Voice will be best heard in a long constitutional convention where the common things of value all Australians depend upon for life are articulated. Then a form of governance can be drawn uo best suited to giving Form to that Substance.

  • Brenden T Walters says:

    We seem to have taken it for granted that people of mixed aboriginal descent are superior to the rest of us. They already have Native Title rights which, in itself, is a fraud on the Commonwealth. Individuals and groups are awash with public money with little, if any, positive outcomes. The individuals themselves are often difficult if not impossible to identify and seem to be increasing in number exponentially. It is claimed that a ‘yes’ outcome will divide us by race – aren’t we already divided that way? Whether we love them or hate them accept them or despise them, the Aboriginal Industry is big business and the sooner we wake up to that the better. The truth will set you free.

    • Michael Waugh says:

      Senator Price wants to audit where the money has gone. This would be a good place to start Truth-telling.

    • Bosun says:

      I think it was Hugh Morgan(Western Mining) that first argued that the only logical objective of the, then burgeoning, aboriginal industry was sovereignty and reparation. It’s always been about the money and power.

  • en passant says:

    I acknowledge and welcome to modern Australia the nomads who managed to survive a harsh existence without inventing the wheel, medicine, pottery, writing, weaving, agriculture, animal husbandry, sailing ships or stone buildings in 40,000 – 60,000 years. We just never gave them a chance or enough time.
    I recognise the benefits provided to all Australians by science, philosophy, construction, British law, fossil fuel energy, increasing CO2, agriculture and animal husbandry and the enlightened inspiration of Renaissance thinking.
    I respect those of our political leaders, past and present, irrespective of their race or origin for providing all modern Australians with tremendous lifestyle advantages through innovations in science, mining, agriculture, manufacturing, technology, medicine, construction, literature and education.
    I value the diversity of opinions expressed through freedom of speech enabling the best ideas that will enhance social cohesion and integration to promote us as one sovereign nation.
    I reject the divisive and exclusionary endeavours of religious, ethnic and ideological groups who promote views that separate and alienate us from each other.
    I thank our military forces for their sacrifice in protecting our freedoms and way of life despite the abysmal combat level leadership and lack of warrior ethos by their ‘woke’ senior officers.

  • EJP says:

    I would now add point 11. Failure to understand why they lost. Like the Bourbons, they learnt nothing and forgot nothing, and have deluded themselves for 24 years as to the reason for failure. ‘Too much detail ‘, for example, or ‘Howard nobbled it’. Never a thought that the proposition was stupid in the first place. As now.

    Over the last few weeks I have been considering using the term ‘intellectual bankruptcy’ about the Yes case, but I now see that it isn’t that at all: it is simply what the shrinks call cognitive dissonance, or conceptual rigidity. Stuck.

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