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The No crowd – honest doubts, or simple racism?

The problem with Peter Dutton is that, right or wrong, we feel we “know” him. We might have missed noticing the human side to the man, but that is because he spent so much time showing us how tough and no-nonsense he is.

He fits the stereotype of the Queensland Liberal, an old fashioned ‘head-kicker’. Being Opposition Leader is a difficult gig, but someone has got to do it. He is using Tony Abbott as inspiration, presumably, on how to be seen as strong, caring and highly moral.

We might have missed his wife saying, “he’s no monster”. The response to that statement is ready to hand: She would say that, wouldn’t she. It also begs the question – who said he was?

If we were to conduct a poll asking Australians about their impressions of Mr Dutton’s strengths and weaknesses, I would hazard a guess that most of us (at least those of us who use cutlery at mealtimes) would think he is uncompromising, set in his beliefs, and addicted to using fairly stale talking points.

Most of his pronouncements seem to highlight his concern for women and children, and an ongoing level of anxiety about pedophiles. He takes every opportunity to sprinkle the idea that he is awake to the “woke” tendencies in the community.

The first, and last impression we form about him, is that once he has decided on a pathway, he will beat that drum until he drops. Evidence and changing circumstances are not going to change his mind, because he sees electoral advantage in his path. This feeds the impression that he is more set on winning through, than evaluating the arguments.

So after what seemed at least a minute’s reflection, he has decided to take the Liberal Party way out to the lunatic fringes of conservatism. He will dog-whistle every Uncle Kev in the country, who has a sneaking suspicion that the Aborigines are ‘taking the piss’. Uncle Kev should study the Closing the Gap report, but Uncle Kev doesn’t read much.

There is a large cohort of Australians who have no interest in politics, and who actively avoid engaging with political issues. These people look at Dutton, in his suit and tie, talking about re-racialising the country, and they believe him. That is why we call it ‘dog-whistling’; because it appeals to the parts of the electorate who are too lazy, or too prejudiced, to look at the facts.

What is the Voice about?

My understanding has always been that the Voice was an attempt to enshrine some sort of recognition of the original inhabitants of our great country into the Constitution. Co-incidentally they also owned it.

The reason for enshrining the Voice into the Constitution is that once done, it cannot easily be overturned by a government which wants to remove it. The example of such bloody-mindedness is the abolition of ATSIC, by the Howard Government, in 2004.

Sadly, the ALP joined in with Howard then. This time the ALP is attempting to re-instate the process. It should be entirely non-controversial, considering it is purely an “advisory body”.

So, a recap: A symbolic recognition of our indigenous people, with an advisory remit to advise government on laws which affect indigenous communities.

Not particularly scary. Of course Malcolm Turnbull did not help, stating that it would form a third chamber of parliament. So he is not so great at Constitutional Law, or he was too lazy to read the Statement from the Heart.

Why are the Liberals opposed?

They think saying No suggests that they are protecting the Constitution. They think it projects a careful evaluation of Aboriginal Affairs, and that there are legitimate doubts. Of course, this is rubbish. Should the referendum achieve success, it will be open to this government, and to all subsequent governments, to ignore the advice the Voice provides.

But Dutton and the other geniuses who advise him have decided that there are enough Uncle Kevs out there, who resent any form of funding for Aboriginal communities, to defeat the referendum.

Their main argument is concern that Aboriginal communities want to change our Western style civilisation, and make the Voice some sort of super-cabinet, which will make pronouncements on matters as diverse as defence or the date of Australia Day.

As Linda Burney has said, they will OFFER advice on Indigenous housing, health, employment and education. That seems eminently sensible to most, thinking Australians. We must not forget that Aboriginal Australians are our fellow citizens – they are not an alien presence among us.

So if you want to evaluate Peter Dutton and his values, look at his parliamentary career. The clangers are many, the apologies few. I suspect that he has fond memories of the feedback he received when he walked out on Kevin Rudd’s Apology.

There would have been plenty of rednecks who secretly applauded Dutton’s action, and he perhaps has calculated that there are enough of them still around, to applaud his efforts at muddying the waters.

All his stance does is to further cement the thinking community’s opinion of the Coalition. Fairly hopeless, and socially and morally blind as well.


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  1. andyfiftysix

    lets hope that the label “Fairly hopeless, and socially and morally blind” is fairly nail gunned to his forehead.
    No need to turn the other cheek, he certainly wouldnt.

  2. New England Cocky

    Boofhead Duddo is a demonstrated racist so expecting anything else other then his present obstructive tactics is like expecting pigs to fly to the moon on water-wings every Friday.

  3. Ian Joyner

    Remember who was Labor leader when Howard abolished ATSIC? Mark Latham. What happened to him? Well, say no more. Labor at its lowest ebb.

  4. wam

    For NAIDOC Week, our open air cinema screened ‘The Last Quarter’ where 100s of thousands of Australians clearly showed their racism towards Aborigines whilst vehemently denying any personal racist beliefs. Even when the Fremantle coach specifically asked supporters not to boo Adam, the crown booed every time Goodes went near the ball.
    66 years ago a loonie size vote said no to counting Aboriginal people as Australians.
    The marriage referendum in 2017 had 60% 40% and in South Australia it was nearly 50%.
    Homophobia, sexism and racism go hand in hand.
    I cannot find any reason to deny Aboriginal people a voice to advise parliament before laws that are directed at Aboriginal people are passed.
    There are Aboriginal people who want the voice to have power not jusy an advisory role. These people follow the loonie rule of my way or nothing.
    It is a long way to the vote and it may be possible to improve on the 40% with bullshit but I hope they cannot reach 50% in 3 states.

  5. New England Cocky

    @ wam: Uhm ….. the 1967 Referendum voted ”YES” to count Aborigines as Australian citizens rather than ”flora and fauna”.
    Regardless, successive governments continued the ingrained racist policies of failing to provide government funding for essential public infrastructure for communities having many Aboriginal citizens. This was endemic in the Northern Territory where the established public service kept government spending principally in Darwin and a little in Alice Springs.
    The metropolitan based government spending also excluded spending in regional & remote communities, regardless of racial composition, and has concentrated upon ultra-expensive motorways/tollways to move ”workers” from the commercial CBD to their suburban fringe principal residences. No thoughts of moving government jobs to regional centres where such government waste could be re-directed into useful public infrastructure and services.
    The Voice is an attempt to get access to the government funding of public infrastructure that successive government departments have failed for far too long to provide for non-metropolitan communities. Check out Toomelah NSW, government neglect exposed by NSW Teachers Federation in 1988 that made a judge cry when he inspected the uninhabitable three bedroom building shells that masqueraded as ”housing” for 12+ local residents, living with broken inoperable water or sewage or (often) electricity supply.
    This situation traces directly to the advocacy of Isaac Isaacs, a lawyer who strongly advocated the eugenics solution for ”the Aboriginal problem” that initiated 70+ years of state sponsored genocidal polices against Australian Aboriginal people.
    The Voice Referendum is aimed at rectifying this continuing disadvantage. It is a much preferred use of $368 BILLION compared to the USUKA sub debacle …. another COALition mismanagement.

  6. Barry

    I contend the NO campaign is organic and strengthening despite Dutton’s support.
    In 1984 PM Bob Hawke toured Central Aus and met with Aboriginal leaders. What came out of that visit was the forerunner of the Uluru Statement, ie the 1988 Barunga Statement. Hawke said he would create a treaty between Aboriginal people and wider Australia by 1990. In the Central Aus tour, clever Hawke said he’d make a treaty ‘before the end of this Parliament’. Question, when does a Parliament ever end? If you think Labor has much interest in the welfare of Aborigines, what proof is there of that? Labor is full of little political people playing their little political games.
    If the end goal of the YES campaign is a Treaty, then what follows will be a rapid push to ‘self-determination’. Look up the legal definition of ‘self-determination’ and understand where voting YES leads. What did Vladimir Ilyich Lenin have to say about The Right of Nations to Self-Determination more than 100 years ago? – “we must inevitably reach the conclusion that the self-determination of nations means the political separation of these nations from alien national bodies, and the formation of an independent national state.” Heads up, our current Aus govt installed itself as an ‘alien national body’ well over a century ago.
    Aborigines do not need a body called ‘The Voice’ to achieve ‘self-determination’. It could be achieved hand in hand with public delegations of people in good faith. I’m not against a Treaty, it just needs to happen in the public domain, not behind closed doors with double-dealing corrupt self-serving politicians.

  7. Cool Pete

    The No Campaign falls into two categories. If we take the Yes Campaign as being Martin Luther King, the No Campaign from Lidia Thorpe’s perspective is, by comparison, a softer Malcolm X. The Yes Campaign is a modification of the “I Have a Dream,” speech, where those of us who support it have a dream of an Australia where Aboriginal People have a direct say on issues that affect them. If we take “Close the Gap”, we can’t close the gap on health issues without Aboriginal input. I remember two episodes of A Country Practice, before Gary Foley came in, when Dr. Alex Fraser stumbled across a man living in a type of humpy, who told her and Peter Manning, towards the end, that he had married an Aboriginal woman, and Peter Manning’s ancestors had been good to her, but she was sick in childbirth, and the doctor refused to see her on account of her skin colour. I remember, from my own experience, I didn’t like my parents’ doctor, when I was a kid, and when I was 19, I decided enough was enough. My mother vehemently objected to me seeing a non-European doctor, but a friend of mine said, “Your mother shouldn’t be telling you which doctor you can or can’t see, but maybe your mother feels more comfortable with a European Australian because an Asian doctor may have a different diet and a different set of health circumstances and racism mightn’t feature in it.” My doctor is non-European, and most of her patients are, too, and many Aboriginal Australians may feel more comfortable dealing with an Aboriginal doctor than a non-Aboriginal, for the same reasons. Yes, an Aboriginal student can, if they get the marks, go to university and study medicine, but it needs to be tailored to Aboriginal people.
    Hanson, despite her protestations to the contrary, IS a racist and takes pride in discrimination! Remember her saying that she wouldn’t want to see a foreign doctor? That’s discrimination!
    One of the greatest lies told by the No Campaign is a belief that it will create apartheid. Hanson, with her rant about autistic kids, did not consider several possibilities. One, autistic kids are individuals. Some autistic kids are good at math, some are not. And in some classes, I know I was, in Japanese, autistic kids are the ones who want to learn and want to get ahead! I remember, one day, we had to translate some words into hiragana, and a guy in my class, who is now an engineer, looked in amazement as I could do it, yet he needed to consult his sheets to do so. He didn’t do Japanese past that Year Eight; his wife did up until Year 12. Hanson’s belief would have created segregation. Just like I don’t believe that neurotypicals should be making decisions regarding autistics (we are FINALLY having input from autistics into research into autism), I do not believe that non-Aboriginals should be making decisions for Aboriginals without input from Aboriginals!
    And let’s not forget this. Having an advisory body about issues is NOT the same as apartheid. Apartheid in South Africa essentially kept native and European South Africans separate. Native South Africans did not go to school with European South Africans, and native South Africans could not inter-marry with them! No such law will be passed here!

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