When a government department requires your land for a new electricity transmission tower, a highway or some other infrastructure they normally advise you of the need and negotiate a sale around the price identified by an independent valuer. The price doesn’t take into account that you will never be able to look at the spot under the gum tree where little Jenny (who is now 35) took her first step, or where little Johnny (who is now 32) first rode his bike unaided – but your compensation for having to move is usually reasonable. Some government departments will notify owners of properties 20 or more years out that the property will be required in the future and inviting discussions around the sale at any time the owner is ready.
Who knows, the sale of the family home to the authorities may be the catalyst to eliminate a number of financial or physical issues to do with aging, the state of the house you are living in or may generate a much wanted change in lifestyle. At the very least you will usually be in a similar financial position to where you were before the sale and most will quickly find the location of the local supermarket, sporting clubs and so on that is part and parcel of moving to a different community.
In 1788, our First Nations people were not give the opportunity to negotiate a sale price for the continent that subsequently became Australia and there was no prior notice given either. In fact the English invented a legal fiction know as “Terra Nullius” to justify their actions. Some First Nations people were massacred, others forced to live in squalid conditions on the boundaries of towns or forced to relinquish their children in a process of ‘assimilation’. Most were never compensated for the loss of their history and lands. Yet, some will tell us if we formally recognise our First Nations peoples lifestyles and traditions were irrevocably changed without any chance of input into the process, we will all go to hell in a hand basket.
The introduction of the Native Title Act in 1993 by then Prime Minister Paul Keating was bitterly opposed by then Opposition Leader John Howard. There were claims that no Australian backyard would be exempted from claims from First Nations Peoples making ‘land grabs’. The reality is somewhat different –
According to the National Native Title Tribunal, the 2022 statistics for the existence of Native Title in Australia includes:
555 Registered Native Title Determinations, of which:
441 were by consent – meaning a court or other official body negotiated an agreement under the Native Title Act. 60 of these were unopposed, and not contested by another party.
55 were litigated – meaning it had to go to trial.
So much for Howard’s claim Native Title Legislation would mean the Australian way of life would be going to hell in a hand basket.
In the early 2010’s then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott claimed that emissions reduction legislation would be the ruin of Australia. His Chief of Staff and now one of the Sky after dark ‘talking heads’, Peta Credlin admitted years later that the claims were ‘brutal retail politics’ with no basis in fact. So much for Australia going to hell in a hand basket.
The Marriage Equality legislation was implemented by the Turnbull Government in the mid 2010’s. While the process taken to get there was questionable (there was no reason for a plebiscite when the various Members of Parliament could ignore the direction from their electorate) the outcome was in accordance with the general mood of the country. While those with a moral axe to grind didn’t like the outcome and foresaw all sorts of moral and physical harm as a result of the legislation becoming the law, again Australia hasn’t gone to hell in a hand basket.
As a matter of fact, the scare campaigns have existed for centuries. According to various interest groups at the time, decimal currency, the introduction of the metric system, changes to legislation to promote equal pay for equal work regardless of gender and similar changes to our lifestyle have generally improved lives for those affected – despite the claims of the naysayers that each change would mean that Australia would go to hell in a hand basket.
Given Australians love of travel, it is interesting to note that the naysayers of the 1830’s claimed the use of railways to carry people to different towns would lead to ‘decay of moral fibre’. Perhaps the real concern here was that those that defined ‘moral fibre’ in each small community saw the potential for travel to broaden the mind and potentially people would find out the guardians of ‘moral fibre’ in the next community down the line might have been more liberal. Regardless, people moving from community to community and later across the world didn’t mean the world went to hell in a hand basket.
The point is that change is really the only constant in life. Our families change with the birth of new children, people finding their life partner, family members moving to or from the area local to you and so on. We routinely change jobs, vehicles, furnishing in the home, allegiances and points of view. If we never changed anything, the ability to light a fire would never have been successfully popularised by cave dwellers. Those that want to live forever in what is a halcyon era (for them) commonly don’t reflect that the era may be anything but agreeable for others. Why should you be able to impose your chosen point in time without questions?
You would have to wonder if those that are considering voting ‘no’ at the forthcoming referendum because they don’t know what the consequences will be are still concerned about the use of mobile phones, television, computers and many other items that are in daily use around the world. If they aren’t, they should be as not all of the current features inherent in the latest mobile phone, television or computer operating systems were explained in detail and agreed prior to the introduction of the first itineration of the devices some years ago. The lack of consistency in accepting upgraded and new features without full relevant disclosure at the same time as voting against the ‘voice’ because you claim not to have enough detail is duplicitous at best.
And the biggest example of duplicity goes to current Opposition Leader Peter Dutton. He has offered to run a referendum if he gets to be Prime Minister at the next election to create a symbolic reference to our First Nations people in the Constitution – while justifying his absence from the Australian Parliament’s 2008 apology to the stolen generations because in his view, it was only symbolic. It’s almost Trumpian, isn’t it?
Why should we let Peter Dutton and his fellow travellers confuse the real issue for their own political ends? The Voice is necessary to enable our Fist Nations people to have a discussion with our elected representatives around what they need – rather than governments forcing what they believe First Nations peoples want. Determining what people want without input has worked so well in the past!
The Voice may not be perfect, it may not answer all the questions but it’s a start and just like most other changes we have seen in our lifetimes, won’t lead us to hell in a hand basket.
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