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Are you listening to The Voice and what it’s really saying? (Part two)

Continued from Part 1

Peter Dutton’s motives for supporting the No vote are questionable. I devoted most of part one to the character of the man who will lead the No vote. I did so because it is essential to question the motives of those who lead Conservative parties. I have concluded that (as part one shows) Peter Dutton has no moral ethics and that, in their absence, he is saying No for purely political reasons.

He and his Coalition partner, the Nationals, stand between justice for our First Nations people and continuing the status quo. As is usual in these circumstances, they offer no alternatives to what they oppose.

It is fair to say that in my lifetime, governments of both shades spent many billions of dollars seeking to improve the lives of Aboriginal folk. However, the programmes were devised by whites and implemented by them. It is also fair to say that many programmes failed for that reason.

Our First Nations people are asking first that they are recognised for what they are; the descendants of those who inhabited the lands for thousands of years. They would expect this be noted in our Constitution. Most of us, those who believe in a fair go, would agree.

Those who don’t are throwing spurious objections that are false or fake and intended to confuse the listener or reader.

Secondly, they ask that they be given a ‘voice’: One that will go directly to Parliament and be heard by those who make decisions. Parliament would not tolerate frivolous propositions and ambient claims. Thought-through proposals would be considered on merit, accepted or rejected.

It is a simple request for the First Nations people. There is nothing sinister to read into it. After long and thoughtful consideration, they have requested that they have a say in their future and be recognised in our Constitution.

Adding logic to the debate, Mark Kenny recently wrote that:

“It was not right-wing cowardice that defeated apartheid but moral clarity and fierce purpose. It came from Nelson Mandella, Steve and Ntsiki Biko, and countless others.”

Let us take a little time to examine what is meant by “moral clarity and fierce purpose” Kenny wrote (above) concerning the Voice.

We’ll start at the explanation of the referendum question and constitutional amendment:

Referendum question

On referendum day, voters will be asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a single question. Subject to the Parliament’s approval, the question on the ballot paper will be:

“A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

Do you approve this proposed alteration?”

Constitutional amendment

The proposed law that Australians are being asked to approve at the referendum would insert the following lines into the Constitution:

“Chapter IX Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

129 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice

In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:

  1. there shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
  2. the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
  3. 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.”

Constitution Alteration Bill

The Government has introduced the Constitution Alteration Bill into Parliament. The Bill sets the question that will be put to the Australian people later this year and includes the proposed alteration to the Constitution.

A Joint Parliamentary Committee will consider the Bill and report by 15 May 2023. Further information on the inquiry can be obtained from the Committee’s website.

You can follow the progress on the Constitution Alteration Bill on the Parliament of Australia website.

Referendum 2023


There it is. It’s so clear-cut and easy to follow that blind Freddy could understand it. So why is Peter Dutton so intent on wrecking something that should have been done and dusted twenty years ago?

In his unwarranted attacks on the Voice, the Opposition Leader suggested it would re-racialise Australia. I must admit I hadn’t come across the phrase before. However, it may confirm thoughts he may have had when he so shamefully turned his back and walked out on the National Apology in 2008.

The concept of a Voice is but a step away from a treaty, so Dutton would also take down any hope of an accord or a republic.

Many in his party agree with Dutton’s sentiments, but they are from the Trumpish, brutal right flank of conservatives. Others ostensibly can see that the Voice is an opportunity to heal the divisions of the past.

It is also about truth-telling, recognising, listening and talking. If Dutton cannot identify those virtues, he has no place in Parliament, now or in the future.

It worries me; no, it disturbs me that now a little over a year since Labor won the election, no word of regret for their many failures (those who committed suicide or others hurt by their lack of empathy) has been uttered by anyone in the Opposition. Instead, its leader has indicated that he intends to take his party further right.

Admitting that you are wrong is an absolute prerequisite to starting anew, redefining who you are and what you and your party stand for. Dutton has yet to do this. Instead, he has opted to sabotage an idea put forward in good faith. One that would resolve generations of angst. After scaring the life out of decent people, will he drive them six miles out of town and let them find their way back.



My thought for the day

The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth, and reason never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rational explanation.



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  1. Kathryn

    Recent revelations about the callous monster Dutton provide more and more proof that the nefarious, criminally corrupt and sadistic political parasite, Peter Dutton, is a totally depraved political psychopath – like we even need more proof! Thank God the overwhelming majority of Australians had the good sense and discernment to kick the lying, conniving, misogynistic and unspeakably evil grubs in the LNP to the kerb at the last election!

    Let’s all hope and pray that the LNP’s “King of the Rats”, Peter Dutton – one of the worst, most callously cruel, dangerous and self-serving sociopaths in our political history – NEVER EVER gets to become PM. The ALP are far from perfect but, make no mistake about it, there can be NO DOUBT that Dutton – and the rest of the intolerable miscreants in the LNP – will absolutely DESTROY everything Australians value and twist and manipulate our laws and political system to suit their own selfish, greedy and malignant agenda. Nominating someone as depraved and heartlessly cruel as the “King of the Rats” Dutton as their pretentious, egotistical and born-to-rule leader PROVES that there isn’t a single person – male or female – within the ranks of the worst, most degenerate political party in living memory, who can lead this nation with any level of foresight, compassion, diplomacy or respectability!

    The tragedy is that the LNP has proven over and over again that it is nothing more than a spring board for unconscionably depraved, self-serving and devious political parasites like the sadistic psychopath, Dutton; the conniving, non-achieving pathological liar, Sloth Morrison; the stuttering inarticulate and thoroughly dishonest misogynist,Tony Abbott; the appalling, shrieking harridans: Michaelia Cash and the thoroughly entitled and suss Sussan Ley as well as that internationally condemned, despicable, self-serving war criminal, John Howard!

    FOR THE SAKE of our country, our international reputation (so badly harmed by the previous ratbags in the despicable LNP), Medicare, the future State education of our children, the existing high quality of life for ordinary hard-working Australians (thanks to our hard-working unions and to Gough Whitlam’s high achieving initiatives) and everything Australians value, it is absolutely VITAL that we keep the devious, criminally corrupt demons in the LNP and their vile sociopathic “leader”, Dutton, in OPPOSITION for as long as possible!

  2. Geoff Andrews

    Yeah! You tell ‘em, luv; you tell ‘em!
    Tell ‘em wot you REALLY think.
    Don’t hold back.

    Well, now you’ve got THAT off your chest, you’d have to concede Duddo’s not all that bad, eh?😊

  3. Pauline Shaw

    A Credible and Accurate summary of the situation.Thankyou Mr.Lord for such a good clear piece and the for publishing it.

  4. GL

    Spudinuci, in my opinion, is a racist (even though he would deny it) and right wing nationalist thug who still has the shits that his party, and stripped him of his overlordships, the LNP copped it in the neck at the election. So what better to way to get revenge than to do a Mad Monk and shout “NO!” and throw sabots in all directions at everything that can help with the betterment of the country. Long may he reign over the LNP.

  5. Kaye Lee

    What really strikes me in this discussion is the suspicion from the No side that Indigenous Australians want to hinder good governance rather than enhance it, that they are trying to take something rather than make a contribution, that they will somehow be magically elevated from the most disadvantaged cohort to the most privileged, that listening to their life experiences and their opinion on the different challenges communities face will somehow divide us rather than unite us in overcoming barriers.

    Mr Andrews asks what practical difference it could possibly make to allow Indigenous Australians to choose who they trust to speak to and on their behalf to the decision makers. This attitude implies that they are incapable of being part of the solution, that politicians and public servants know best what should be done, and that evaluation of programs would not be better informed from the grassroots up about whether they are making a difference or not. The evidence indicates otherwise. The political class have failed.

    If we can empower Indigenous people to achieve their potential and truly recognise and value the only uniquely Australian culture, the entire country will benefit economically, socially and culturally.

    And if you want a more concrete answer, spending $180 million administering the cashlsss debit card was money that probably could have been better spent on….I dunno….housing?

  6. Michael Taylor

    The No campaign is carrying on like they did with the mining tax or the ‘carbon tax’ – it’s going to destroy life as we know it.

    Next we’ll be hearing that the Voice will wipe Whyalla off the map and give us $100 $200 roasts.

  7. Kaye Lee

    I got told by more than one person that Aboriginal and Torres St islanders are not our First Peoples because they stole the land from pygmies and/or Neanderthals and so Europeans were just the next wave of land stealers. This is the exact same argument used against land rights. This Gish Gallop of spurious arguments stoking fear and suspicion is very Trumpian.

  8. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, those people are living proof that Neanderthals are still with us.

  9. Terence Mills

    I was reading the other day that apparently a UFO landed some years ago and released all these strange and foreign creature who subsequently formed the Liberal National Party and cloned to the US Republican party.

    If that wasn’t bad enough, evidently the UFO isn’t coming back for them !

  10. GL


    Neanderthals were far more intelligent ( than the LNP and their ilk so calling them by that name is an insult. I suppose we should come up with a new name for the current offshoot: Homo troglodytus or Homo Thuggus sounds about right. They make Zippy the Pinhead look like an Einstein.

  11. John Lord

    Good one Michael.

  12. Michael Taylor

    I worked for ATSIC for six years, during which, I lost count of the number of times I was bailed up by an angry white bloke wanting to know why the government was giving Aborigines a free house, car, and plasma TV. Yawn. It was tiresome. Free houses, cars and TVs was news to me.

    One particularly annoyed gentleman wanted to know why Aborigines were allowed to own the hotel in Oodnadatta.

    “Ummm, because they bought it,” I replied.

  13. Terence Mills

    The challenge for the Voice delegates in the first four years of their tenure [assuming that they only get four years as per Calma/Langton recommendations] will be carefully observed. But if they can bring the authority of the Voice to bear on improving education outcomes, delivering health solutions and sorting out the mess that is Aboriginal housing, they will have gone a long way to silencing the nay sayers in the coalition.

    Inevitably a number of these outcomes will be dependant on the states fully co-operating where the constitution does not permit the federal government to act. Alternatively the states must agree to hand over some of their powers to allow the Commonwealth to act in these critical areas.

  14. Geoff Andrews

    Kaye, I can see nothing in my two serious contributions to this discussion that would warrant your comment:

    Mr Andrews asks what practical difference it could possibly make to allow Indigenous Australians to choose who they trust to speak to and on their behalf to the decision makers.

    My understanding of the proposed constitutional change is to give to the Voice the right to address the parliament on matters affecting Aborigines. Presumably, it will be recorded in Hansard, making the submission public and putting pressure on Members to vote according to their conscience. (Hah!)
    Ignorance about how the system would work allows Dutton’s tactics to feed the fears of the undecided.
    so all that I was suggesting was for the “yes” camp to give an example of the Voice response to, say, the Northern territory shut dawn or the granting of a mining lease involving a sacred site and parliament’s response to the Voice.

  15. Terence Mills

    Geoff Andrews

    I think you are wrong : at no time has it been suggested, neither would it be permissible other than in exceptional circumstances, for a delegate of the Voice to address the parliament from the floor of the House or from within the Senate Chamber. To allow this would be placing a ‘stranger’ in the midst of the elected members which could be considered the creation of a ‘third chamber’ which has been thoroughly discounted.

    Parliamentary procedures would only allow for a ‘stranger’ to address the parliament by special invitation of the Speaker, e.g. a visiting head of state

    The delegates to the Voice will, like all other lobbyists, be restricted to speaking with elected members and members of the Executive from outside of the parliamentary chambers.

    The words :………may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples would imply in my understanding that such representations would be through the relevant minister (s).

    We will only know the nuts and bolts when the legislation governing the mechanics of the Voice have been thrashed out after the referendum. I do agree however that we should not have been left by the government speculating on such weighty matters.

  16. Geoff Andrews

    Terence, nowhere in my comments have I said or implied that the Voice would be presented to parliament by a person
    standing on the floor of the House or shouting from the gallery. I always presumed it would be delivered in written form. To whom it would be addressed, I know not … the PM, the Minister, the Voice’s local member or even a Parliament house’s PO Box number. It might be a good idea to send a copy to every Member.
    Unless the full mechanism is explained well before the vote, the undecided will reject it “just to be on the safe side”.

  17. Terence Mills

    Geoff Andrews

    I read your comment :

    My understanding of the proposed constitutional change is to give to the Voice the right to address the parliament on matters affecting Aborigines.

    As implying that the Voice would have the right to address the parliament – evidently that’s not what you meant to say.

    Perhaps that is the problem that the YES campaign have, people just don’t understand the basics of the Voice !

  18. Geoff Andrews

    Yes, you’re right on both counts; I should have used “present” instead of “address” and the way that the whole process has been presented so would raise doubts in a waverer’s mind that it’s a flawed proposition.
    Questions such as what special rights does it confer on the Voice that may be misused; who is the Voice; what obligations rest with Parliament; the right to appeal and to whom and, anyway, who is “the voice”?
    While we wait patiently for these details, the NO campaign gathers adherents who aren’t necessarily racists, just concerned citizens.

  19. Kaye Lee

    The Voice doesn’t confer any rights let alone “special ones”.
    Local communities will choose their regional reps from whom the Voice members will be elected. The proposed model had 35 reps – 5 specifically from remote communities and 3 from the Islands. They will have limited fixed tenures.
    The parliament is not obliged to act on advice nor to seek it.
    Theoretically, any legislation can be challenged in the courts now – that is our system – but frivolous and vexatious claims don’t make it to the High Court.
    The Voice will be made up of Indigenous people that local communities trust to speak to and on their behalf.

    All of these details and many more are out there for those who wish to find out.

  20. Kaye Lee

    What was claimed

    The Indigenous Voice to Parliament will provide “special rights” to one race of people in Australia.

    The verdict

    False. Legal and constitutional experts say the proposed Voice to Parliament will not provide anyone with “special rights”, but rather provide an opportunity to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make representations to parliament on matters that impact them.–spe

  21. Kaye Lee

    Former High Court chief Justice Robert French:

    “There is little or no scope for constitutional litigation arising from the words of the proposed amendment. The amendment is facilitative and empowering. Parliament cannot legally be compelled to make laws for the Voice. It cannot be compelled to make a particular kind of law. Nor can it be prevented from repealing or amending the laws it makes.

    The Voice is a big idea but not a complicated one. It is low risk for a high return. The high return is found in the act of recognition, historical fairness and practical benefit to lawmakers, governments, the Australian people and Australia’s First peoples.”

  22. Geoff Andrews

    Thank you Kaye. That’s reassuring.

  23. Kaye Lee

    Kate Carnell wrote a good article on behalf of the Liberals for Yes………

    The proposed constitutional amendment is a guarantee for some form of ongoing representation on behalf of Indigenous people. Over time, the form and role of that representation can and will change as the parliament deems appropriate. This ability for the parliament to adjust the voice is a critical safeguard that is often overlooked in the current debate. It will ensure the voice can evolve to be not just effective, but fit for purpose.

    An Indigenous voice would be a standing body aimed at practical outcomes, with its existence mandated by the Australian people because they support recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander as the original inhabitants of our continent.

    So it is fair, it is practical, it is workable and constitutionally safe; this makes it well aligned with Liberal values.

  24. Michael Taylor

    Phillip Adams says it in less words than I would (and probably make more sense):

  25. Michael Taylor

    Kate Cornell!? Wow. That was unexpected.

  26. Geoff Andrews

    Phillip Adams’ comment nicely covers the moral aspect of the proposal and should make the NO supporters who claim to be Christians, recalibrate their philosophy (“do unto others etc”). I’m hoping that if the LNP, on returning to power (shudder) some time in the 2040’s, won’t have the power to wreck the whole system.

  27. wam

    beauty michael, Adams’ words are succinct.
    We should add many governments have made laws that identified the Aboriginal men as drunken, wifebeating paedophiles addicted to gambling. Women are judged by white women of 19th century england and take no cognizance of the role of women in Aboriginal society of the past and present. Our school education system contains no recognition of the education process of Aborigina; Society expects Aboriginal students to reach the level of 8 year old white Australians to be awarded the year 12 certificate(there are mechanisms to accept lower standards) Clearly, there are no reasons for voting no beyond those directly related to racial profiling as determined by Australians without Aborigines having a voice.
    Wow, no matter how much it cocks up, it couldn’t be heller for Aborigines,who meet heller’s book constantly.

  28. leefe

    Kaye Lee:

    Good to see you back here, and thank you for a great summation of the issue.

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