The debate over the referendum to grant a “Voice” to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia sparks many thoughts in my mind, most of them cynical.
Now I don’t have a vote in Australia, but I have paid taxes here for nigh on 10 years so should have one; thus I figured I am entitled to speak my mind.
My first thought is that these people do have a voice and representation by their own elected representatives. (Does this mean that democracy has failed them?)
My second thought is that the concept of a “Voice” for this poor benighted sector of the population is quite a funky meme-ish idea, likely to appeal to the shortspanofattention current generation. It is a crisp, simple virtuous PR vehicle, ideal for politicians.
My third thought is that the referendum is likely to be quite divisive, because of the modern propensity to factionise and label for easy meme-ing. The ‘aye-sayers‘ are inclusive, woke progressives and the ‘nay- sayers‘ are racist Tories.
Wait, it gets even more … rough-edged?
There are about 500 different Aboriginal tribes in Australia, each with their own language and territory and usually made up of a large number of separate clans. more than 250 languages and about 800 dialectal varieties
Which language will be used by the Voice? And will all agree on the words that are spoken? In New Zealand, there are still big money debates going on about the meaning of the Te Reo Maori version of the Treaty of Waitangi, thought to be clearly written in English.
The Indigenous population in Australia declined to a low of 74,000 in 1933 from an estimated 314 000 when the First Fleet arrived. About 12 000 were killed by colonists, the rest likely succumbed to the ravages of disease and by products of western civilization such as alcohol and despair.
A Voice will give 3.2% of the population additional power in Parliament – a 25% increase in that population since last census! It seems that aboriginal heritage is gaining flavour.
This portion of the population is the most poorly educated, unhealthy, socially destitute and criminal of all Australians. It is also diverse and disparate. It has a history of subjugation and some abuse, some of which may have been well meaning by the perpetrators but devastating for the victims.
Can we expect clarity, foresight and community interest from the speakers of the Voice? Will they be united and informed and representative of their electorate? Is that likely? Or will there be Boards and Committees and advisors and bureaucrats to give the Voice a neck and a head…? Lots and lots of money…!
It’s not a new political trick. In 1967 a referendum relating to Indigenous Australians, was called by the Liberal-Country Party Holt Government. Voters were asked whether to give the Federal Government the power to make special laws for Indigenous Australians.
Acts of Parliament have appointed Protectors of Aborigines and Aboriginal Protection Boards in the past, with little apparent success.
The persuasion for this campaign is founded on the wave of Woke thinking which is sweeping the old, democratic Western societies, which recently saw off ScoMo and the LNP.
The fact that the Aboriginal population suffers significantly less advantage in society is regarded as a consequence of a racist hegemony, enriched by its historical suppression and racism: massacres, dispossessions and stolen generations.
The guilty must now pay a penance which will (maybe) absolve them of this horrible taint of the past and make everything okay …. yeah, right!
My last thought is related to my antipathy to Woke-ism, which you may have detected.
Once the benighted Aboriginals have a Voice, will we not be bound by precedent to enshrine more power for the exclusive use of women, then the homosexuals, lesbians, transexuals, pansexuals, one knee cappers and sheep lovers, etcetera?
I will leave the allocation of body parts to a new age biologist!
While I am here I was wondering why there is no rainbow flag in Parliament and why no-one took a knee at the opening of that august body, soon to be given a new voice.