The Voice

Sinking Fast: The Voice of Desperation

With under two weeks to go it’s looking like a serious defeat for the Voice, meaning I should be able to sit back and start thinking about other issues.  But I can’t.  Here are some random thoughts.

Recently from The Australian:

Launching a new ad on Monday to run across television for the final two weeks of the campaign, the Yes campaign is pivoting its messaging towards consequences of a No vote.

A mother stands in an empty room and viewers are shown an empty cot and nursery with no baby, with a voiceover saying:

“What if I told you that our infant mortality rate is twice as high as non-Indigenous babies? That they’ll grow up half as likely to find employment and will face a life expectancy that’s eight years less than the rest of the country? A No vote means no progress.”

We are told this referendum is about achieving constitutional recognition in a practical, rather than merely symbolic, way.   Effectively, they are tacking a supposedly practical initiative – one which should stand alone on its own merits – onto the issue of constitutional recognition.  Maybe they think doing so will make constitutional recognition itself more palatable to the general Australian community?  No, it can’t be that, because we are being constantly told up to 95 per cent of Australians would support constitutional recognition sans the Voice.

OK, so it must be in order that the Voice cannot be easily dispensed with when, as is inevitable, it proves to be an expensive white elephant at best.  The theory is that this Voice is so essential to Aboriginal well-being – closing the gap – that it has to be able to survive attacks on it by racist far-right governments, such as might be led by Peter Dutton.   But, if the consequences of a No vote are as described above, why has Albanese ruled out legislating a Voice in the event the referendum fails?  And, if he does relent and legislate it, the dire warning above will come to nothing.  If, that is, you believe the Voice will have any practical effect in, say, Yuendemu.

Here’s Troy Bramston further promulgating the notion that, if the Voice does not go into the Constitution, it is beyond the wit of any Australian government to ‘close the gap’:

Because here is the thing: if you vote No, you are voting for nothing to change. This proposal for an Indigenous advisory body is all there is on offer. There is no second referendum. There is no alternative proposal to help alleviate systematic entrenched disadvantage. This is it.

No alternative? What about a legislated Voice, Troy? More from him:

now is the time for those who are planning to vote No to reconsider and vote Yes, ignoring the shrill calls to war and rage

This is projection on steroids.  Where are the shrill calls coming from, Troy?  Peter Dutton, Jacinta Price, Warren Mundine?

Another breaking news story from The Australian:

Nathan Cleary led the greatest grand final comeback in NRL history on Sunday for the Penrith Panthers, and now his new Yes campaign teammates hope they are not too far behind chasing another miracle victory.

The Panthers co-captain was unveiled as a coup for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament just hours after orchestrating a come-from-behind victory in the final 20 minutes of the NRL grand final, with the message “No Voice, No Choice – come on Australia, vote Yes”.

‘A coup’?  We are talking about a change to the Constitution for Heaven’s sake!  Has Cleary even read it?  Well, sure he’s better than Shaquille O’Neal, but is that the best they can do after a year of cliches, platitudes and virtue signalling?  Was John Farnham a coup?  Was Cathy Freeman a coup?  How many coups like this will the Yes camp need to accumulate in the next few days in order to overcome the fact people are voting No because they see this as racially divisive and/or they cannot vote for a Constitutional amendment that is so lacking in detail or clarity.

Meanwhile, Voice stalwart Chris Kenny, in the absence of any substance in support of the Voice, is reduced to castigating Sam Newman for his call to boo ‘welcomes to country’ at football finals.  What a triumph for the Yes case that boos were not evident in either the AFL or NRL Grand Final ‘welcomes to country’, as Kenny smugly demonstrated in an incisive segment on his Sky News show last Monday.  At this late and dire stage of the contest, Kenny might achieve more by finally answering serious questions that have been put to him, such as if the Voice is advisory only, why does the new section not contain an explicit caveat to the effect ‘representations emanating from the Voice will not be binding on either the Parliament or the Executive Government’?

Incidentally, I posed that question in a letter to The Australian, which was rejected three times, in favour of, for example, this from Len Monk, of Belmont, Victoria:

It is sad that the idea of the voice has brought out doubts, fears, and anger because the proposed constitutional change seeks only an enduring acknowledgment of our First Nations peoples by ensuring a broad cross-section of Indigenous views is brought to the table when Indigenous policies are being developed. There is no need to fear that racial division would arise from this change – there are already race provisions in sections of the Constitution, which have not led to any consternation.

In an open letter, published at the beginning of August, nine of Australia’s foremost judges concluded that the proposed amendment will not reduce the rights of any citizen. Organisationally, it creates an advisory body constitutionally cushioned from short-term politics to enable it to focus on longer-term solutions. More focused policies could lead to reduced spending. Why be bewildered that there is no detail in the proposal – the Constitution is a statement of principles, and the composition and operation of the advisory body are specifically left to follow the normal democratic processes of parliament. The voice is, in essence, a heartfelt expression of pride and anguish for our country. It would reverse the indignity of a Constitution that once counted the First Nations peoples as less than human and instead look to them to help solve the terrible disadvantage many Indigenous people suffer.

The Australian is entitled to, and indeed does a good job of, publishing a range of opinions in its Letters page.  But you would think its Letters Editor would baulk at offerings that contain inflammatory and egregiously incorrect claims.

The Yes camp is becoming increasingly desperate.  If the Voice goes down, we will have dodged a bullet, certainly, but no-one will have won out of this ill-conceived and costly misadventure.



32 thoughts on “Sinking Fast: The Voice of Desperation

  • lbloveday says:

    Maybe Bramston is trying to out-do Kenny?
    The heading of his article sets the stage – STAGGERING no less:
    Close the Gap? No camp’s lack of vision is staggering

    • lbloveday says:

      1445 ACCEPTED comments 8:45 4/10!
      My quick scan indicated a massive majority disagreeing with Bramston. Imagine what it would be like if all were published – I figure they’d have ACCEPTED any and all agreeing with Brampson while REJECTING the harshest criticisms, like those from some Quadrant readers.

  • Tony Tea says:

    Here’s my thought/question: what the hell is with people complaining that Dutton “should have” embraced bipartisanship? Just maybe, champs, he thinks the voice is a stupid idea and “should have” has nothing to do with conservative opinion. I’m obviously glad he doesn’t support the voice, and I hope he’ll extend his objections to the just-as-stupid climate change.

    • pmprociv says:

      All of the propaganda emanating from the Yes camp assumes its position as the default option. That’s why anyone disagreeing is assumed to be either unreasonable or defective. If No wins the referendum, then obviously the Australian public is a failure.

      • lbloveday says:

        It occurred back on September 28, but I’ve just seen it – RayMartin at Marrickville’s Factory Theatre, to great applause from the audience which included Albanese, said we must be a “dinosaur or dickhead”.

  • Tony Tea says:

    “Because here is the thing: if you vote No, you are voting for nothing to change.”
    That is, in its most generous interpretation, a steaming pile of straw man; at its worst, it is a vile slander and almost an outright lie.

  • pgang says:

    Rolling out Nathan Cleary is another own-goal for the yessers. There’s not too many people excited about the Panthers’ win I wouldn’t think, nor the arrogance of the players involved.

    • Lawrie Ayres says:

      You should read the comments under the story. Almost every one is negative and many suggest that Nathan should stick to football where he undoubtedly shines as one of the best players ever but that he should stay away from politics. Whether he likes it or not at least half his fans will now disown him. Not a wise choice but typical of leftists destroying a good but gullible person for their own ends.

    • vagan says:

      Wonder how Nathan’s plea played in Brisbane?

    • Robert Kennedy says:

      Its too late now, but the Broncos should have went to HT 6-0. Panther’s points came from stupid short drop-outs.
      However, we can’t take anything away from Nathan, any more than from Ezra Mam. they were both magnificient in the second half. Regardless of the result, it was a great game of footy.
      But back to the main topic; the yes mob are pissing into the wind, but there will be no winners regardless of which vote wins. The yes side will make sure that the racial divide is very much alive and well. I’m tipping that there will be people hurt and even killed over this stupid idea of albo’s. You only have to look at some of the protester’s actions and language, to see that. The rent-a-crowd are very active… because its never happened in the past, doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the future.
      Someone should ask Noel Pearson about the $550,000 his pet projects in the past has had spent on them and what has been achieved by all of that money?
      Funny thing, but almost all of the people protesting about “colonisation” wouldn’t exist without it happening… most of them, including the great Pearson have a fair bit of non-aboriginal blood coursing through their veins. Funny how that doesn’t count, its only the bit of aboriginal blood that has an affinity to “country”, utter bloody rubbish!!! Over the years Australia has made a rod for our own backs, with spending twice as much public money on them, compared to the rest of the population.
      Speaking of rods, bring back corporal punishment for youth crime, in countries that have real consequences for crime, they have very little of it.
      Roll on a Huge NO Vote!!!

  • Botswana O'Hooligan says:

    Yairs, maybe the “yes” fiasco will be a huge fail but we must remember sayings about counting chickens, fat ladies singing, and many of the dead in cemeteries who all vote Labor from time to time when things look a bit tough.

  • Katzenjammer says:

    Plan B –
    Move to where you can get a job and turn up every day.
    Stop bashing each other over minor disagreements.
    Feed you kids and send them to school.

    • lbloveday says:

      Around 40-50 years ago a government-led scheme to give employment to a group of Aborigines at the GMH plant at Elizabeth was made much of in The Advertiser and The News. According to a foreman who I knew well, none turned up the day after payday, and certainly none in his section did. Not reported in either newspaper though.

  • rosross says:

    If they had a smidge of integrity along with their smidge of aboriginal ancestry they would clarify that the problems are with a small minority of those with aboriginal ancestry and the majority are doing fine. Never let facts get in the way of propaganda for the abolites.

    If the majority can be as functional as anyone else because they are assimilated into the modern world then logic decrees the problems lie not with a lack of money, time, attention, or voice, but in the fact that those in communities are not assimilated into the modern world but remain in backward, violent and dysfunctional tribal/clan systems.

    • John Cook says:

      Hear, hear.!

    • Blair says:

      Agree, rosross… but try getting those comments published in the MSM.

      • PeterPetrum says:

        I did, in The Australian, but was rejected at least three times. That idea is contrary to their rules about playing nice, or something.

        • Peter OBrien says:

          I had this comment to Janet Albrechtsen’s article rejected, as expected:

          “Price has opened our eyes to a stubborn policy to separatism in Indigenous affairs. It has happened under our noses.” And it has been aided by the inexorable intrusion of Aboriginal themes into every facet of our lives – welcomes to country, special flags, acknowledgements of country, indigenous football rounds, Aboriginal livery on QANTAS aircraft etc etc. These things, so apparently benign individually, cumulatively foster a sense of separateness. And they paint a false and patronising picture of an Australia built on Aboriginal tradition. Australia owes a lot to its Aboriginal citizens individually, but it owes nothing to Aboriginal tradition.

  • Lonsdale says:

    And I worry they are going to use expensive, and fake, emotionalism in glossy advertisements to push the Yes case into winning position

  • March says:

    Quick trip out of the Sydney Basin today.
    Back roads north of Goulburn carried a number of NO signs. A refreshing change from my local area. Just goes to show country people have a great deal more common sense than their city counterparts.

    • john mac says:

      Drove to Mt Gambier Last Thursday , coming back to Adelaide Friday , approaching Keith , was a 110 speed sign with a piece of black tape diagonally connecting the two 1’s , making a NO sign . Brilliant ! But just shows the lack of funding for our case amid a tsunami juggernaut the “Yes” campaign enjoys .

  • Occidental says:

    Surely one of the most interesting aspects of this whole process has been the complicity of big business (when any fool could tell that more hands in government is bad for the market and therefore for business generally). We all know that it is about the optics, that business assumed the process would succeed and they would burnish their image by showing early support. Incredible how shallow the thinking in Australian boardrooms.

  • Solo says:

    The ABC is in fine form this week. Fairly intense ATSI-heavy coverage including how the Voice “could” lower incarceration rates, increase school attendance, etc. *Propaganda intensifies*

  • lbloveday says:

    Heidi Williamson who is previous Chief of Staff for Bess Nungarrayi Price OAM and Senator Nampijinpa Jacinta Price wrote:
    “If the referendum for a Voice to Parliament is successful, it will mean a massive policy shift away from traditional owners’ independence — more than now — to a policy of collectivist cloaked warriors.
    Traditional owner and custodians’ voices will be eternally gone, lost.
    The CEOs and others who ‘identify’, however they may determine that to be, will have the grandest table of all to control where the money flows and to who, what land will be used for and what it won’t. .

  • pmprociv says:

    I don’t think Penrith Panther Nathan Cleary’s call for a Yes vote would have scored many supporters in Queensland. He (and maybe Shaquille O’Neal, John Farnham and Cathy Freeman) might not even be aware that all complex problems have a simple solution — and it’s always wrong. For the complex problem of The Gap, The Voice offers a very simple solution. And the one thing it’s guaranteed to do is only to further complicate that problem.

    When we consider that the 20% of our Aboriginal population living in remote communities account for most of The Gap, while many of the remainder are little different (often indistinguishable) from the mainstream community (indeed, most of their spokespeople, the “leaders” we constantly hear from, are very well off by generally accepted standards, and in no need of a special consideration), then obviously it’s only those remote dwellers who need a voice, or at least special attention.

    For me, the basic problem is that The Gap victims claim they want to live remotely, while being provided with all their daily needs from outside. If the supposed reason, as we keep hearing endlessly, is to maintain “traditional culture” and “language”, “on country”, there’s no reason why they couldn’t be allowed to do that. Most of our continent is now held under Native Title, giving them plenty of scope to find suitable locales. Those who wish to move to their chosen site should be free to do so, to revert to fully traditional existence, without depending on, or demanding, any input from colonialist, modern technology, in the form of motorised transport, fuel, housing, electricity, telecommunications, education, entertainment, health services and “jobs”. The remainder could move to places where such services were readily available. What’s unreasonable about that?


    It’ll be crook for us whatever the outcome. The bad seed of racism and apartheid has been sown in abundance. The fruit will be rotten and leave a long term bad taste.

    • Occidental says:

      I could not disagree more. I have not read at least in the MSM any argument that would appeal to racism, and as for readers letters almost all accept that there are disadvantages in some sections of the indigenous demographic. A couple of weeks ago I was in Oz, in my old hometown in NW Queensland, and spending most of my spare time with close friends who are indigenous. Other than laugh about funding becoming available from Canberra for any Indigenous organisation that wants to run a program that alleviates mental anguish associated with an unsuccessful referendum outcome, (grants of $250000) for each program) no one seemed concerned about a failed referendum. All my indigenous friends or acquaintances support the referendum, most because they assume there will be more money, but the more cerebral ones admit that it won’t make one wit of difference on the ground, but feel compelled to support it as it’s “for the tribe”. I suspect the only racism that might raise its head will be the perennial accusation from the elite commentariat, but then what’s new there.

  • BalancedObservation says:

    Obviously the Government wanted the Voice component of the referendum package to be included in the constitution to make it harder for successive governments to change or remove it. The same applies to the less controversial Recognition component of the referendum package.
    But why put the two propositions of a Voice and Recognition in the same question to be voted on? Why not have the Voice component and the Recognition component in separate questions?
    In my view the answer is pretty clear, the Government thought it would be a lot harder to get the Voice component of the package over the line than the Recognition component so they included them together, hoping the Recognition component would help get the Voice component over the line.
    But according to the polls it looks almost certain that the Voice component of the package is going to see the whole package defeated including Recognition which was almost certain to get approved if it were put as a separate question.
    Roughly the same sort of trick was tried in the 1967 referendum by a Coalition government. Two questions were put.
    One relating to Aborigines allowing the Commonwealth to count them in the population and to make laws with respect to them.
    Another to remove the nexus ( numerical relationship) between the number of seats in the Senate and the number in the House of Representatives. It was argued – I think quite rightly – by opponents at the time that was done to weaken the Senate and/or make it easier to increase the number of seats in the lower house.
    They were obviously completely unrelated questions which couldn’t logically – no matter how far you stretched logic – be put in the same question. However they were put in referendums at the same time with the hope that the Aboriginal question would help pull the nexus question over the line.
    It didn’t though. The people were too smart for that. The Aboriginal proposition was overwhelmingly carried with a record YES vote of 90.77%. The nexus question was defeated. It could only muster a 40.25% YES votes despite being put at the same time as the popular question on Aboriginal Australians. And despite having the support of Labor and the Coalition.
    The messages from this: people aren’t as gullible as politicians might think they are. Secondly there’s been strong support for Aboriginal Australians for a long time but unfortunately that support has failed to help in a practical way for a significant number of disadvantaged Aboriginal Australians.
    In my opinion in the extremely unlikely event the Voice referendum succeeds Recognition of our First Australians will be a good thing.
    However there’s unlikely to be a marked improvement in the lot of disadvantaged Aboriginal Australians because the Voice proposition is arguably even more impractical than previous measures to help them which have failed many.
    But unlike others here I don’t see dire consequences of a YES vote. If things do go pear shaped with the Voice after a YES win and our system of government is somehow threatened that would surely be reversed with another referendum – Aboriginal Australians only represent less than 4% of our population.

  • Tom Romanowski says:

    Voting Yes would create an immoveable ATSIC on steroids. Decisive and exlusive Voice for 3% of population? – a cruel fantasy, it will be a few dozens of activists (it will be enough for them to call temselves Aboriginal, no matter how white they are), imbued in communist ideology and hellbent to damage the country. The deplorable barbaric conditions in which segregated Aborigines are forced to live will be maintained forever – they will need their never ending victimhood to justify the powers of the Voice.


    “I have not read at least in the MSM any argument that would appeal to racism..” That may be because an important role of the MSM is to dole out comforting commentary about the current bread and circuses show.

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    I too belong to that grand club of those serious commenters rejected by The Australian. I think it is something of a badge of honour these days. Free speech is dead on certain ‘woke’ issues which our betters believe we should not be thinking, let alone saying. It is all so very Soviet..

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