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The Voice referendum in Australia

June 01, 2023 — BarryK

There will be a national referendum in Australia later this year, for a change to the Australian Constitution, to formerly recognize the prior inhabitants of this land.

They used to be known as Aboriginals, now they are "First Nations" people in the media. The Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) is pro-Voice, despite supposing to be impartial, at least that's how they come across to me. The current Australian Federal Government is putting up information that is also pro-Voice, again, that's how it seems to me. Here is the Govt info site:

The Federal Government is supposed to be impartial also, putting up both for and against arguments.

I have been following the news, and amid all the enthusiasm for giving the First Nations people more of a say in our government, there have been doubts in my mind. One of the doubts is this...

Shouldn't we be heading toward equality for all? Why are we permanently enshrining 2% of the population as "special", with more input to the government than the other 98%? Isn't that putting in place a permanent division by race?

I think that doubt is a reasonable one, and it needs to be answered by proponents of the Voice.

Andrew Bolt (Sky News) has raised concerns:

Andrew Bolt is worried about the power that the advisory body will have. He also asks, why do we need a constitutional change to establish a First Nations body that advises government?

I don't like Sky News, but in this case it seems that legitimate concerns have been raised, that need to be answered.

The actual change to the Constitution is here, it looks harmless enough:

...very vague, open-ended. I'm just an ordinary person, have no idea what the legal and governmental ramifications will be. But, I still find myself asking, why do we have to make a change to the Constitution to establish a First Nations advisory group?

And there is still that previous-mentioned doubt; why should we permanently enshrine 2% of the population as special?

Then there is the issue of defining who is, or is not, Aboriginal? There are very few full-blood Aboriginals. Could someone who has a Great-Great-Great-Grandmother who was Aboriginal, suddenly realize their aboriginality and get into that 2%?

I haven't decided which way I'm going to vote yet. Well, if I had to vote tomorrow it would be "No", but will listen to more arguments in favour of "Yes".

I would like to append some personal thoughts to this blog post. Perhaps I am too idealistic, but I would like to see a future for Australia where everyone is equal. When I walk down the street, whoever I see, I see them as equal to me. Just another Aussie citizen, like me.

I don't like the tendency of people toward division. We see it all over the world, some ethnic, cultural or religious group wanting to split off in some way from the country they are in.

As I say, I am perhaps too much of an idealist. It would be nice if countries become more unified internally, but in the news I see all over the world the opposite happening. It depresses me.

If I can be convinced that the Voice is a step toward unity, despite how it currently seems, then great.    

Tags: ethos