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Anti-Voice Propaganda: A Response

The week before last, a remarkable piece of political propaganda found its way into my mailbox. Rather than simply dismiss it outright, I thought a response to its main ‘arguments’ might be more useful. I want to go through the pamphlet page by page and section by section. The ‘arguments’ say much about those opposed to the Voice.

The Propaganda Pamphlet, Part One: The Front Page

The front page has the following:


Ok, in order. Why is it ‘risky’? Because you say it is? Most changes are risky. Not all risk is necessarily negative. Great things can happen if you are willing to take risks. Further, the idea that the Voice is ‘unknown’ is essentially a restatement of the ‘detail’ argument, which I and others have shown is total crap. The details are readily available, but those opposed to the Voice do not want to read them. They ignore the details that are available precisely so they can make this argument.

A chief criticism of the former government under Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison was that they ‘created their own success’. This meant that they created conditions that set up their own arguments and/or policies. The go-to case here is the cutting of university funding by 20% and then turning around and proposing fee deregulation. Which of course would not have been necessary without the funding cut. Slimeballs.

We see this with the Voice also. They deliberately ignore the multi-hundred-page report detailing what the Voice will mean, and then say that Mr. Albanese is being cagey with the details. Said it before, say it again: slimeballs.

However, my favourite of all the ‘criticisms’ of the voice is the idea that it will be permanent and enshrined in the Constitution. What this boils down to, dear friends, is Conservatives complaining that they will not be able to come in and abolish this body the next time they are returned to power. The idea that they don’t have the final say over something enrages them. Born to rule sticks as a criticism for a reason.

The Propaganda Pamphlet, Part Two: Page One

The pamphlet starts by drawing in as many people as possible. It states:

All fair-minded Australians want to help Indigenous Australians in disadvantaged communities improve their lives.

The Liberal Party supports regional voices, with powers clearly defined by parliament.

This is designed to create ‘common ground’ with the majority, the goal being to lead them down the rocky path in the next sentence. You see this with conservatives all the time: everybody supports [group], but they want [unreasonable strawman of the actual position].

The pamphlet continues with this revealing statement:

However, the Albanese Government wants to go much further – enshrining a Voice in the Constitution with few limits to its scope and few details.

First, their outrage over it being ‘in the Constitution’ (the bolding was theirs) again indicates that the problem is that they will not be able to abolish it next time they are voted in. They resent the permanent nature of the Voice. They resent that its existence is not subject to their partisan whims.

Second, the very words to be added to the Constitution define the Voice’s scope and limit its powers.

Clause 3 of the proposed Section 129 of the Constitution reads as follows:

The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.

The first Clause establishes the existence of the Voice, while the second limits its scope to issues relating to First Nations Peoples. For our purposes, this third clause is decisive. It makes clear that parliament has the power to make laws about the Voice, including composition, functions, powers and procedures. Its powers are defined by parliament. One has to seriously question if the LNP have actually read the proposed Constitutional changes.

The first page ends with the remarkably insidious:

Don’t know? SAY NO

So, they create doubt around the Voice, and then tell people to vote no if they are unsure. You have to admire the propaganda techniques on display here.

The Propaganda Pamphlet, Part Three: Page Two

The middle page begins by complaining that Australia has not changed its Constitution by referendum since 1977. What is your point? If anything, this is evidence that the country has become calcified. In addition, if I were the Liberal Party, I would be silent on the idea that the Constitution is somehow sacred. Scott Morrison swore himself into ministries, a flagrant violation of the Constitution. To now hammer that document’s sanctity is delusional. Get that garbage outta here!

Page two ends with quite possibly the least self-aware set of statements that I have seen for some time. This has to be quoted in full to be believed:


Enshrining in our Constitution a body for only one group of Australians, means permanently dividing Australians by race.

Many Indigenous Australians don’t want this. The Constitution belongs to all Australians.

We need to bring Australians together, not divide them.

Let us start with the idea that a Constitutionally-enshrined body for only certain Australians divides the country by race. You mean like Parliament? Prior to the 1967 referendum, Indigenous Australians were not even counted among the population. That racist idea was also enshrined in the much-vaunted Constitution (S127, since repealed). However, the point is that Parliament was, from its foundation, enshrined in the Constitution as a body exclusively for one group of Australians. Drop this argument, No Campaign: you will lose it!

The Voice is a response to the decades of exclusion that First Nations Peoples faced in Australia, exclusion that was based solely on their race. To say that the response to such race-based exclusion risks dividing the country by race is delusional.

Next is the idea that ‘the Constitution belongs to all Australians’. Really? A document of imperial conquest by the British belongs to Indigenous Australians, does it? Finally, it is surprising that the universe did not implode from the irony of a Liberal Party led by Peter Dutton talking about ‘not dividing Australians by race’. African Gangs, anyone? The Biloela Kids as ‘anchor babies’, anyone? Go away now!

The Propaganda Pamphlet, Part Four: Page Three

The next ‘criticisms’ are equally as vapid. As well as a restatement of the ‘permanency’ argument, we have this nonsense, under the heading of ‘Ineffective’:

Having a centralised voice – rather than regional voices – risks overlooking the needs of regional and remote communities.

Yes, because if there’s one group in the country the LNP cares about, it is regional and remote communities. More seriously, they do know that the National Voice does not replace the existing regional and local Voices, right? This is not a ‘one or the other’ situation. Similarly, does the Federal Government existing risk overlooking the needs of states and local government areas? No, of course not. Local, State and Federal governments exist in parallel. The same would be the case for the Voices.

Conclusion: This is All You Have?

If the pseudo-arguments put forward in this remarkable piece of political propaganda are the best that those opposed to the Voice can muster at this point, the campaign is dead. Simple application of basic logic and critical thinking exposes the ‘case’ against the Voice as quite ineffectual. It is standard Conservative fare: fear the unknown (despite there being ample detail about the Voice). I do find it interesting that they tipped their hand so blatantly with the ‘this is permanent’ argument. They are clearly desperate, and that argument was not thought through. Their petulance thus exposed, let us hope the electorate sees through this nonsense and votes for True National Unity with a Voice.


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  1. Roswell

    That was a great read, Tim. So well said.

  2. Andrew Smith

    Agree, another factor that flies under the radar, although public, is the lack of push back against our right wing nativist media cartel talking points and BS targeting above median age voters, while centrist flip flopping opens the door to doubts and confusion…..

    Why? The only mainstream alternatives are ABC, The Guardian and SBS, the former two are now ‘anodyne’, not just intimidated into silence or FoxNews’ ‘fair & balanced’ on not contradicting LNP, Murdoch & IPA messaging, but are almost complicit? Ditto UK centrist media on EU/Brexit and US on Trump/GOP

    The Guardian (encouraged by Turnbull to set up shop) had a related article this weekend, but apart from another Guardian type commending the article, the comments disagreed and complained of following nebulous polls then prematurely concluding maybe better to give up on The Voice…..

  3. Uncletimrob

    I haven’t had the pleasure receiving one of these “documents” yet – now will I shred it and give it to the worm farm, or drop it straight into the recycling bin?

  4. New England Cocky

    Excellent analysis!!

  5. RomeoCharlie

    Yes this is an excellent takedown of a racist piece of propaganda (which hasn’t made it to my postbox) but expecting the hoi polloi to be able to read it with the same forensic skill is asking a bit much. The fact that the ‘no’ case appears to be in the ascendancy seems to indicate a distinct lack of the intellectual curiosity required to read such material with scepticism. Add in the fact that the reduced attention span of many readers (140 characters) means most will only read either the headlines or the bits conveniently bolded to reach their benighted conclusions. “If you don’t know,vote no” is a really clever goebbelsian slogan and much more likely to resonate with the stupid than the more correct “If you don’t know it’s because you are too ignorant or lazy to find out”. I am deeply critical of the Albanese government for its lack of real action in so many areas, however in the case of the voice Albanese has it right. It is beyond time for this issue of justice for our First Nations people to be rectified. If not now when? And should it fail I dread to think what the backlash might look like.

  6. wam

    The paper is ‘no’ and print ‘no’ letters very often. The latest refers to the myriad of litigations tying up the courts. Perhaps, an unfettered editor would have added a footnote The body is advisory. It has no power to litigate and no court would accept such litigation. The danger to the alp/clp/lnp is the electorate will know the advice the pollies ignored and may react?
    Sadly, the only people, I know, whom are voting ‘no’, or more likely not voting ‘yes’, are the same people who said the ‘booing’ of Goodes, was not a racist reaction.
    the worms will get indigestion, it is not worth recycling, it should be shredded and sent back to the person who authorised it.

  7. Lawriejay

    This is our BREXIT moment – fluffing up the past at the expense of the future and the benefits to be had!

  8. Paul Smith

    “… let us hope the electorate sees through this nonsense …”
    We may need more than hope. A pregnant teen was observed rubbing her abdomen with vanishing cream. “Hope is not a method,” said the observer. Yet it is hope that motivates participants in Yes 23 activities, especially the Kitchen Table Conversations. To the resources of that activity I will add the bullets of this article, which is the best on the NO case I have seen so far.

  9. Anthony Judge

    Exposed as I am to an overwhelming quantity of Yes propaganda, notably on ABC, I am increasingly underwhelmed by the style of argument — irrespective of the rationality of the content. Voting Yes has become unquestionably the right thing to do. I am moving toward voting Neither — as the Voice that goes unheard and is deprecated as irrational in a democratic society

  10. DickyBeachMicky

    Thank you so very much for this excellent read of your simply superb analysis & slap downs a plenty, regarding the No campaigners straight up lies, misinformation and misleading claims, Dr Tim Jones!
    I’ll definitely be sharing your TheAIMN article on Twitter, with a 💯 Recommendation for ALL to Read & Share!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
    Michael Roberts

  11. The AIM Network

    Thank you, Michael.

    Your kind words and support are truly appreciated.

  12. Ben

    Would it have been better for Aboriginals to aim at getting agreement on a Treaty firstly? I think they have the cart before the horse.
    Labor are shooting themselves in the foot by not being straight about the matters of Treaty and compensation.

  13. Max Gross

    Oi, Ben. The Voice is what the Uluru Statement From the Heart is asking for: Voice, Treaty, Truth, in that order of preference. It has nothing to do with Labor.

  14. Clakka


    I liked the line-by-line critique by The Guardian, but I am much more fond of this article by Dr Tim. The prose and adjectives are much more enjoyable and better drive home the point and evil guile of the naysayer politicians and their feckless flunkies.

  15. Zathras

    As for the “lack off detail” argument, it’s irrelevant. “Prime Minister Dutton” know he would be free to dismantle anything Albanese creates and replace the Voice with two men and a dog. The only thing that would remain is the concept of a voice.

    Racial divison? The 1967 Referendum simply removed Aborigines from Section 21 and transferred State responsibility for them to the Commonwealth. Before then, some States would not even allow them to vote. However, the rest of that section remains and States still have the right to disallow specific racial groups from voting.

    Aborigines are already treated separately in some areas and have specific legislation directed to them alone.
    It’s OK for Jacinta Price and Co to demand racial equality but imagine how she would squeal if we shut down those specific Aboriginal services, such as health, law and deaths in custody.

    This whole “debate” is nothing more than a political stance with the aim of getting Dutton in particular to score some sort of victory and elevate his electoral status and unite the floundering conservatives.

    To vote No is to believe this will be as good as it will ever get for First Nation people.

  16. Terence Mills

    Murdoch’s Sky News Australia is launching a news channel dedicated to the Voice referendum, and whilst they say that they will impartially air “every perspective of the debate”, can we trust them ?

    We know that Sky’s main presenters – including Andrew Bolt, Rowan Dean, James Morrow, Rita Panahi, Paul Murray and Peta Credlin – have already been scathing in their opposition to the Voice. Will Sky direct these people to toe the liine and be impartial ? I doubt it.
    Alternatively they could block these talking heads from appearing on the new dedicated channel – I doubt that too.

    It is clearly not the pay television subscribers they are aiming this channel at but rather the free to air offering in regional Australia, particularly Queensland where they expect to get a ready audience of nay sayers.

    All sounds very cynical to me !


  17. Barry

    Terence, you are right, anchors at Sky News will be talking up Murdoch’s worldview but that’ll be either because they want to keep employed or they are actually believe what they are saying. No one is forced or mandated to watch it, yet. I averaged about 4 trips/yr (5-10 mins) there this last 2 years. I’m surprised Rowan Dean is still on, I thought he’s gone against the official narrative enough times to warrant a Tucker Carlson stage right exit. Chris Kenny is similarly an endangered species. The rest seem controlled opposition, paid to dumb down the audience in what looks like a competition to match the dominant MSM and its half-assed coverage of issues.

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