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Why wouldn’t you vote Yes?

Firstly, may I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land to which I am writing from today, and I pay my respects to Elders past and present.

The words in the headline of my article are not mine, but I do embrace them from both the social and legal context in which they were spoken. I shall return to these words at the conclusion of this article, as they continue to resonate in my mind with clarity and conviction.

My opinion so scribed today is not emanating from the province of politics, which regrettably seems to be playing out in all forms of media about the proposed referendum to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia (‘Constitution’) “to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice” (‘Voice’). The pollution of politics regarding the assessment of any legal implications of the Voice are too parochial in their scope. Regrettably the modern Australian media as always miss the answer to the question of any legal implication of an amendment to the Constitution, even if the answer was tattooed on the rear end of a 100-foot-high vehicle. Also, my words do not carry with them the imprimatur of the Bar Association of Queensland, rather they are my own.

So that those of you who are reading this article understand the words of the proposed amendment, I set out immediately below the link to the Voice:

Further, so that you may consider the various arguments being agitated by either side of those campaigning for or against the Voice, I set out immediately below the links to the websites for the proponents of the yes vote and no vote:

Vote Yes for the Voice

First Nation’s Voice to Parliament: The Argument for Voting NO

I am voting yes. I do not profess to be an expert, as such, in constitutional law, but I do rely upon the erudite analysis of the Voice by the Hon Mr. Kenneth Hayne AC KC (‘Justice Hayne’) as he is a jurist in whom I do hold my confidence regarding an analysis of any supposed legal implication. That is not because Justice Hayne aligns with my views about the Voice, rather it is because after having read his judgments for the past 20 or so years I have always considered his reasons regarding constitutional law to be those of pure theory of ‘what is the law’ as opposed to ‘what the law or ought to be’.

Last Monday evening, 15 May 2023, I attended a seminar organised by the Australian Institute of Administrative Law- Queensland Chapter, and Justice Hayne presented his spoken analysis about the Voice, during which he opined:

  1. at the commencement of his speech there is no legitimate fear or concern for implementing the Voice into the Constitution.
  2. the central words of the proposed subsection 129(2) notably state “may make representations”; those words are just that, representations, and they only provide for speaking to, not speaking in, Parliament.
  3. the provisions could not be understood to mean any changes to the Parliamentary or Executive powers. The words are spare and lacking in complexity.
  4. there is no power of veto, nor is there a power to interrupt or delay the Parliamentary or Executive powers.
  5. the words do not require the Executive or Parliament to seek out the Voice, because it is entirely up to the Parliament or the Executive to take into the account the Voice.
  6. if Parliament did legislate to take into account the Voice, it would only be a matter of judicial review to challenge a law which is no more than the normal application of the rule of law. If there was a ground of judicial review all that would be required of the Parliament or Executive is to take into account the representation, but they are not bound by it.
  7. regarding the two points frequently being raised by some people the High Court may draw inferences from the Voice or the Voice may entrench division, Justice Hayne said regarding:

(a) legal implications, what would be implied? How could any implication be made? The words could not be construed to interrupt, hinder or prevent the ordinary working of government. The statement “the courts are coming”, are we to fear the courts doing their work? It is an ill based contention.

(b) racial implications, it has been received law since Mabo this land did not start with the arrival of the First Fleet. It was not terra nullius. Approximately 65,000 years of custom were not extinguished. We cannot ignore the early settlers took the land without consent. As Sir Gerard Brennan said in Mabo about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, “their dispossession underwrote the country.” The legal and historical facts explain the disadvantage to First Nations. Further, regarding the equality argument the law has always strived to like cases to cases and to distinguish cases from cases; the appeal to twentieth century Europe is without foundation as the equality contention adopts an argument of race and there is no discernible content of any utility.

  1. the Voice does not take away any right, and it does not hinder Parliament. To ameliorate the torment of powerlessness the Voice seeks reform to empower. Rejecting the call would further injure First Nations for decades.

Justice Hayne’s analysis is not one of politics. Justice Hayne’s analysis is in my opinion pure theory of what is the law of the Voice. Justice Hayne’s analysis informs the scope of the Voice, and his analysis is not posited from a place of fear or emotion.

I now turn to the words contained within the headline to my article, as they are not my words but those of Justice Crowley who also spoke during the seminar last Monday night. Justice Crowley is the first Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person in Australia to be appointed as a Supreme Court justice. His Honour is an impressive person, not only because he displays erudition, but there is also a dignity to his manner which emanates from a place of compassion which is untrammeled by any matters of the racism he endured during his early life. As I stated at the outset of this article, Justice Crowley so eloquently stated last Monday evening, “Why wouldn’t you vote yes.” It is a yes from me, as I hope it is from all of you.


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  1. RomeoCharlie

    The first line in point 8 says ‘it does hinder parliament,’ I think the word ‘not’ has been accidentally left out.
    Otherwise a straightforward telling of the facts about ‘the voice’ for which I, incidentally, will also be voting yes.

    The dishonesty, the scare tactics and the outright lies of those opposing the voice are both astonishing and disappointing. Documents purporting to come from Jacinta Price ( a traitor to her indigenous family) claim all sorts of dire consequences, none of which can, or will, happen. Landowners will not be dispossessed, First Nations people will not take over the government, the only secret plans are in the fevered imaginations of the nay-sayers. They are trouble-makers and should be ignored.

  2. Roswell

    It’s a Yes from me.

  3. Clakka

    And a Yes from me.

  4. Gibber

    To paraphrase my dear departed Mother – “Voting Yes won’t hurt anybody”

  5. Anthony Judge

    Sadly in my view, voting ves for the Voice has become the right thing to do — because seemingly it will harm nobody — so yes I will do it. Missing for me is any consideration of how any corresponding “Ear” will function — as I have previously argued. Will the Voice be heard, other than for the purposes of public relations and symbolism — or will it be ignored? A massive exercise in tokenism? Following the much publicised role of “modelling” during the pandemic — and daily reporting on it — it is curious to note that no effort has been made to “model” or “simulate” the role of the Voice. Such modelling has long been used by students with respect to national parliamentary processes and those of the United Nations ( Why has no such effort been made with respect to the Voice? It is all theory and commentary by people who seemingly choose to forget how good processes can be subverted. To whom does that matter?

  6. Geoff Andrews

    It’s also a simple case of morality.
    If, in 100 years, the Chinese, Indians or Indonesians decide that the glittering prize to the south of them is an irresistible temptation and we are outnumbered 4 to 1, wouldn’t we expect to have an input into the decisions that affect us? It’s a matter of “do unto others…”; a philosophy thousands of years old.

  7. Fred

    While I will be voting YES, on review of the “yes link” above I was extremely disappointed. It has an annoying pop-up, content that has been dumped rather than carefully laid out to quickly inform why one should vote yes and the key focus of buying “merch” (a “YES” t-shirt). If I was undecided it would turn me off to the point I would vote NO.

    The “NO” link above starts off authoritatively with “Rule of Law Education Centre” bur quickly descends into lots of “statements”, true or otherwise, without supporting proof. If I was completely stupid, I might accept what was written without question.

  8. leefe

    I can think of plenty of reasons why various people wouldn’t vote YES, but none of them are edifying. The least worst is blindly following the nay-sayers because thinking for yourself is too hard (laziness and stupidity). The very worst is, inevitably, the racism that is and has always been at the heart of colonialism and, thus, this nation.

  9. New England Cocky

    I support the Yes Campaign ….. why would you NOT vote ”Yes”??
    In the hard copy SMH (200523, p12) Paul Sakkal reports that the ”Liberals for No” group will launch their campaign this coming week highlighting ”the potential risks of allowing Aboriginal persons access to ”executive government”?????
    I am reminded that it was a LIARBRAL politician who recently provided access to Parliament for about 300 supplicants, many associated with, or donating to, the LIARBRAL party.
    So, for the LIARBRALs ”No” group, it is OK to pay the LIA$RBRAL party to get your way into Parliament to advocate your case with the appropriate politician ….. but IT IS NOT OK for mere mortals, including Aboriginal persons, to seek to advocate similarly WITHOUT A DONATION TO A POLITICAL party ….. especially if that advocacy requires an audience with a Minister of the ”executive government”.
    How privileged do these turkeys think they are??????????

  10. Stephengb

    Good article Mr Springer.

    Before I proceed, I want to make it absolutely clear that I have NO objection for our Constitution to recognise that the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islander’s, did inhabit this land called Australia prior to1788.

    Yes I do absolutely recognise that the treatment (incuding murder) of the original inhabitants was little more than barbaric, and yes the mistreatment exists to this day.

    It looks like I will be vilified for the following.

    “Up to date”, I have not read or seen any reason to vote yes. I have read articles and listened carefully to the “experts” including the many commentators who make statements that they nor I can verify nor have the yes voters even produce evidence to support the statements. It is, as if, by making statements are verified facts in their own right.

    I want to make it absolutely clear that I have NO objection for our Constitution to recognise that the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islander’s, did inhabit this land called Australia prior to 1788. I absolutely do recognise that the treatment of the original Inhabitants was barbaric, and yes, the murder and mistreatment exist to this day.

    My understanding of the exact wording in the proposed amendment to the Constitution, is to provide a pathway for the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander’s (and ONLY the Aboriginal andTorres Straight Islander’s) to express their concerns about proposed legislation “that might” (yes might) affect the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander’s.

    Thus my current stance is that I object to what I see as a proposal to legislate a form of dicrimination, a Constitional right to provide privilege (no matter how small that privilege might be) to a specific group of people (and by omission only that specific group), a privilege that other citizens are denied, a denial based on the presumption that other groups of citizens do not fit the profile of that specific group.

    Of course I “may” vote yes, but that would not happen on the assurances of Politicians (and another person who is apparently knowledgeable) ,that the words as proposed do not say what it actually says, but does say someth8ng quite different!

    At 75, I have become quite familiar with the siver tounge of our self styled better’s!

    OK- go for it

  11. leefe

    Stephen, I’m not going to villify you because I’m too busy rolling my eyes.

    When a group have been marginalised and oppressed for – literally – centuries, sometimes the most effective way to undo some of the results of that treatment is to give them extra access to opportunities. It’s called affirmative action. And no, affirmative action is not reverse racism or reverse sexism or reverse whatever people want to call it; it’s a method of trying to rebalance the scale because discrimination has left the members of that group so far behind that they need that extra assistance just to have a chance of getting a bit closer to the mainstream.

    You – I”m assuming you are not Aboriginal – have been living off unearned privilege your entire life, and now you aren’t happy that someone else may get a tiny, weeny little smidgen of privilege to which you aren’t privy. Cry me a river.
    Stop being such a greedy sod.

  12. Fred

    Stephengb: The proposed Constitution wording change is simply:

    In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:
    i. there shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
    ii. 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;
    iii 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.

    While the legal eagles have done a lot of reading between the lines of “may make representations to” and “Executive Government”, the nay saying “experts” somehow translate “may” into “will under any circumstance” while ignoring that item iii bestows Parliament with the power to determine the “functions, powers and procedures” of the voice.

    I think it fair for the true owners of this land to have special mention and representation on matters that concern them.

  13. Stephengb


    Well for someone who says they will not vilify , you sure have hidden that hatred so well

    Correct I am not a first nations descendent, but I am a 43 year cittzen of Australia, and frankly the “poor me”, “I am so oppressed”, it’s all your fault” mantra, is getting a bit thin.

    As I made quite clear my comment is not based on ignorance, nor discrimination, but you very clearly skipped that bit to hurriedly make presumptions based on your pre- judgment.

    I is precisely your comment makes me highly suspicious.

  14. Stephengb

    It is clear that you have no idea about legal interpretation or you’re just choosing to pretend.

  15. Geoff Andrews

    Fred, your last paragraph says it all.

    I would have thought that all the Government has to do is give a few examples of legislation or policy from the past when, had a Voice been in place, the powers of the Voice could have been implemented.
    There wouldn’t have been a stolen generation for starters. There was also a controversial piece of legislation in the Howard years that affected aboriginal peoples in the Northern Territory adversely as I remember. The Voice may have been able to prevent the recent vandalism by some wretched. reprehensible mining company of a significant aboriginal site (bring back the stocks for the executive(s) who are guilty).
    I was going to finish by suggesting that all the Voice was asking for was a fair crack of the whip but that would give the nay sayers ideas.

  16. Fred

    Stephengb: If I’m so clearly clueless, please explain what I got wrong?

    When it comes to interpretation, sure, one could run each word in the proposed wording change against the legal databases to look for possible contextual challenge points, but hey, when the constitution was written we didn’t have databases that allowed for the searching for interpretations of the word “may”. In general the dictionary definition was adequate.


    v. a choice to act or not, or a promise of a possibility, as distinguished from “shall,” which makes it imperative. 2) in statutes, and sometimes in contracts, the word “may” must be read in context to determine if it means an act is optional or mandatory, for it may be an imperative. The same careful analysis must be made of the word “shall.” Non-lawyers tend to see the word “may” and think they have a choice or are excused from complying with some statutory provision or regulation.

    So, taking the LNP’s bone of contention of the voice potentially able to make representations to Executive Government at will, let’s assume that “may” is interpreted as “shall”. It doesn’t change the fact that sub-clause iii leaves it to Parliament to determine how these representations happen.

    Also, please disregard the crap written in the MSM about the voice being able to make representations to the RBA, etc. as these bodies are not “government” and even if one cannot accept this, sub-clause iii still applies, with the Government able to restrict communications to the use of carrier pigeons.

  17. wam

    The government makes laws for us all. It also makes laws that only affect Aboriginal people. These laws do not require Aboriginal input.
    Constitutional recognition is required to establish the right for Aborigines to have input into laws that affect them as Aborigines.

  18. Stephengb

    Please read my original comment, you seem to think thatvaimam not schooled in legl interpretation and the conventions that arecnot actually in statute law, but accepted assacrosanct.

    You are in fact reasonably correct to say that “may” can, should be interpretation in context. Yes it is true that (iii) gives back power to parliament.

    But enough legal beagle stuff, what I said is that I am inclined to vote NO, not on the basis of anything you have put up, but because I believe the proposed wordng is contrary to democrating principles.

    Yes I am well aware of the subtifuge peddled by the Main Stream Media. I am also aware that a significant number of yes voters seem unable to apply even a modicum of critical thinking .

    I decided to actually read the proposed model, that is when I realised that the model whilst not saying it directly is at odds with the proposed wording.

  19. tess lawrence

    Thank you Michael, for giving a Voice to the Voice.

  20. leefe


    It is precisely your reaction to my comment that shows how accurate my judgment of your attitude is.

    It is not villification to point out truths. You are part of the demographic that rules, that has the vast majority of power and wealth. When you have more than you are fairly entitled to, it is not oppression for some of that to be given to those who lack it.

    And, by the way, this is not hatred. It is pity – for your lack of understanding and compassion – tempered with a healthy dose of contempt because I am so much over people who refuse to see other peoples’ pain and suffering and oppression.

    ” … iT’s NoT dEmOcRaTiC … ”
    What was democratic about the invasion and colonisation of this land?
    What was democratiic about the theft of lands, about thhe massacres, about the destruction of culture and a way of life?
    What is democratic about the ongoing damage that has done to the people who experienced and continue to experience its effects?
    Oh, sorry; I forgot that the only democracy that concerns you is the part that profits you, one way or another.

  21. Stephengb


    It seems that only you are allowed an opinion.

    Read the exchange, it was you who made assumptions and it was you who showed your hatred first without any prompting.

    I do not care if you are black, white, pink, blue Yellow or polka dot.

    I feel sorry for you. Your hatred will eat you away.


  22. Konn

    Stephen, I will likely also vote NO. I think First Nations people are already well-served by their reps and to the tune of some $35B/yr if my memory is correct.
    On the topic of democracy, that is mob rule by another name. I prefer what the USA had a while back, ie Constitutional Republic, an ideal which has morphed into a kind of Kakocracy.
    On the Voice referendum I’ve this concern: Sitting quietly behind this debate, if you can call it a debate, is the UN and their UNDRIP process – one of the UN’s many parasitic agendas. As outlined by Stephen Reason & Joesphine Cashman in ‘Australia under attack by the UN – Insider Discovers Plot to Use ‘Voice’ to Strip Our Assets’ (May 2023), the plan does not favor harmony.

  23. Stephengb


    My point is that if you make Constitutional provision for the exclusive benefit of a specific group, you have deminished the rights of the other groups that excluded.

    In my view, we must recognise that this land was not Terra Nullis, and that the original inhabitants were and continue to be discriminated against.

    I absolutely agree that the Constitution must change to rid it of discrimination, NOT to add more words that reinforces discrimination.

  24. Richard Ure

    Those who oppose the Voice are not lobbying for the removal of the words “to the executive government” to be helpful.

    The value of the Voice’s representations will be derived from the work done to prepare them, the level of preliminary consultation and the qualifications and experience of those involved.

    The bona fides of the No supporters will be tested if all of the words “to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth” were omitted from the proposed section 129. The absence of these words would not restrict the recipients of its representations—the Voice could still make representations in the absence of those words.

  25. Richard Ure


    Are you suspicious (your word) about the other 128 sections of the constitution? I don’t understand how people can expect to escape criticism when they make stuff up. The longer the debate goes on (as an article by Tony Abbott in the Oz shows) the more creative it becomes.

  26. Terence Mills

    We need to listen carefully to all arguments both for and against. A change to our Constitution should never be considered lightly : it is a change that is potentially for ever – it could only ever be unwound by another referendum.

    There seems to be an attitude among some that if you oppose constitutional recognition or ask questions about the proposed model, you are un-Australian and that your opinion doesn’t count and that you should be silenced.

    Some prominent Aboriginal voices are opposing the referendum and this includes Jacinta Nampijinpa Price who is now the coalition spokesperson on Aboriginal matters and Nyunggai Warren Mundine who has been prominent in Aboriginal issues for many years. Senator Lidia Thorpe is another : each of these prominent Australians are of Aboriginal heritage but with blended families – their opinions should be given equal gravity to those who support the changes.

    I heard Jacinta Price saying that this Voice would be divisive and give some in her immediate family a greater say on issues than others – she speaks as a woman with Aboriginal heritage on her mother’s side but with a white father and a white partner as is the case with Senator Lidia Thorpe.

    The important question we will all need to ask ourselves is whether this referendum, no matter the good intentions of our leaders, will be divisive and potentially racist or will it assist in bringing harmony and inclusiveness to our society and in particular to first nations people.

    We need to remember at all times that we are all Australians and that there is only one human race !

    Sorry, I don’t mean to preach…..

  27. leefe


    You keep using that word “hatred”, despite my explanation of its inaccuracy. The pity grows.
    Just because I don’t parrot your words back to you doesn’t make my analysis and rewording wrong. You said what you said.


    Division is not necessarily a bad thing. I am not going to sit around the dinner table with bigots, with fascists, with those who lack compassion or a sense of justice. We don’t turn away from making hard decisions and changes just because “it’s divisive”. If we do, nothing that needs to change will change.
    The divisiveness over this issue is caused as much by the insistance on no change as it is by those who want change. It wasn’t the YES campaign in the marriage equality debate who spread hatred, any more than it is this YES campaign that spreads racism.

  28. Anthony Judge

    All this speculative commentary and no effort to model, simulate or game the process, as I noted before. If it was good for the pandemic and is good for other parliaments and the United Nations, why the amazing reluctance to even consider the possibility? ( No consideration of:

    Parliamentary simulation: the bridge between law students and political institutions (
    Constitution Simulation (
    Challenging the Constitution: Convening a Mock Constitutional Convention for American Government Students
    Constitutional Convention Simulation
    Constitutional Convention 2-3 Day Simulation

    Funny — no web references to simulation or modelling of the Australian Constitution. People just seem to indulge in speculative reflections guided by their particular biases. However modelling was treated as gospel in the case of the pandemic.

  29. Stephengb




  30. Paul Smith

    Anthony Judge, you ask: “Will the Voice be heard, other than for the purposes of public relations and symbolism — or will it be ignored? A massive exercise in tokenism?” If the Voice is emasculated in either of the ways you suggest it won’t be for want of effort on the part of ATSI people get the attention of whitefellas. If the “Ear” doesn’t function it won’t be the Voice that’s at fault.

  31. Clakka

    It may be that “discrimination” is a completely normal and essential process in coming to a decision or conclusion – It’s “prejudice” that we have to watch out for.

    As for “contrary to democrating principles” [sic], I nearly rolled on the floor laughing, not for the typo, but for the use of that catch phrase without any express substantiation as to its accuracy of application in this matter. Throughout history, democracy has been variously designed and re-designed, subverted and eroded to suit the mores of those wielding power. It’s all in the eye of the beholder(s). In this Oz matter, it’s by a vote for all and decision by majority of people and majority of States – pretty reasonable.

    In these modern times, the foundational Constitutions of many States, whether in the form of a single writ or various compilations, they are continually interpreted, and reinterpreted. Significantly many such Constitutions remain arcane, and inappropriate, and should be completely recast for clarity, fairness and equity as understood today.

    Nevertheless, in parliament and government, democratic principle, in practice is an absurdity. Those principles are subverted by religion, junket lobbying, party donations, militarism, mercantilism, xenophobia and racism, etc., all embedded by the hands of parliamentary supremacy – and they say they’re “working on it.” It’s an ass, but it’s better than the alternative. And as demonstrated by Morrison, a funny handshake and a whisper away from autocracy. Not so far really from a cyclical authoritarianism.

    The Voice and its representations is an acknowledgement and an informative process, it does not in any way undermine parliamentary supremacy, in fact it reinforces it. It is a long overdue affirmative action, and per se an adjunct to the democratic process of treaty, and the truth. No harm done.

  32. Stephengb

    Gish Gallop

    The Gish gallop is a rhetorical technique that involves overwhelming your opponent with as many arguments as possible, with no regard for the accuracy, validity, or relevance of those arguments.

  33. leefe


    I didn’t use the word “hatred” until you claimed that was what I was feeling. My subsequent use has been purely to correct that erroneous assumption.

    Shouting is not necessary. My literacy levels are adequate for reading lower case characters.

    Have a nice day.

  34. Fred

    Clakka: Hear hear! Para 4 resonates loudly with a select list of non-libelous corrupting influences. Eastern Creek land deals, miners, energy suppliers… (and a long list)… appear to receive favorable influence on the LNP. Couple that with an ideology of “minimal government”, it’s a wonder the last government got anything useful done at all. (I’m being heckled – question from the stalls: What did the last govt achieve?)

  35. New England Cocky

    @ Fred: Uhm ….. When in the nine (9) years of the RAbbott, Turdball, Scummo alleged (mis)government did the COALition achieve anything to benefit the development of Australian egalitarianism or made any attempt to build a better Australia for ALL Australians?????

    There is a long list of self-serving rip-offs exposed by a compliant mainstream media but that is the LIARBRAL way of doing politics for foreign owned multinational corporations.

  36. wam

    Stephen what groups will be disadvantaged by the voice? There are clearly many laws that affect our Aborigines ONLY. To use the constitution to recognise the people who were here before cook is surely a sensible thing to do. The allow Aborigines to have input is even more sensible and desirable. Those who contemplate a ‘no’ vote need to exam their motives and Kon’s cash is an example of irrelevance.
    it is sad that an opinion does not need to be based on evidence.

  37. Stephengb


    Every group of individuals not an aboriginal of Torres Straight Islander, because they will have less access to Parliament and the governing executive.

    I DID NOT say that we should not amend the Constitution to recognise the occupation of this land called Australia, indeed Mwent further tom say that we should enshrine in the Constution the sovereignty of the Aboriginals and Torres Straight Islander’s.

    Recognition that the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander’s, were here before 1788, was unequivocally proved in the Mabo High Court decision in 1992. AND again I have NOT said otherwise.

    Yes I have said that I am not happy with the idea that in addition to recognition, that the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander’s, be granted an instution that provides an addition right and avenue of access to Parliament and the executive, an instution and right that is NOT available to every other group of Australian citizen.

    I did provide reasoning that to do this would be against democratic principles. Yes it is desirable that all citizens have an input to decisions that affect them. As a matter of fact, they do, it is provided by the election of elected representatives to Parliament.

    Readers of this string on AIMN, please stop twisting my words or even adding words I did not say.

  38. wam

    StephenB, If the voice is not in the constitution a man who walked out of the ‘sorry’, wants to destroy bulk billing and whose verbage in the Alice was called a ‘dog act’ could destroy any consultation process.
    Many people, especially me, can read what we think we write rather than what we write.
    You are using Aboriginals as a group where as I think they are way beyond your: “Every group of individuals not an aboriginal(sic) of Torres Straight Islander, because they will have less access to Parliament and the governing executive.” The points I find inappropriate in that sentence are Aborigines and Strait. When we consider the goverments, federal, state and local, all make laws that only affect Aborigines, but not any other ethnic group. The existing process is not reasonable. These laws all treat Aborigines as ONE group (and a poor group without even an opt in/out clauses). A tiny look at the languages would suggest they are just as different from each other as french, german, english or greek. (NB Aborigines and europeans command respect as a proper noun but I chose not to give such respect to the latter) All of whom are treated as individual. Non-Aborigines, whose society include Aboriginal people, are also aware of how educated, helpful, considerate, sharing and smart they are. ps Can you imagine pollies making laws about Greek Australians? Would they talk to Greek Australians??? pps Australians Indigenous peoples Aboriginal Australians European Australians Chinese people American Australians Melanesians Romani people in Australia Norfolk Islanders Iranian Australian Zimbabwean Australians Polynesians Caribbean Australians Turkish Australians Fijian Australians Somali Australians Torres Strait Islanders Indian Australians Australian diaspora Chinese Australians Afghan Australians English Australians Taiwanese Australians Irish Australians Bangladeshi Australians East Timorese Australians Korean Australians Thai Australians Japanese Australians Vietnamese Australians Sri Lankan Australians Singaporean Australians Filipino Australians Cambodian Australians Indigenous Australians Nepalese Australians Indonesian Australians Pakistani Australians Greek Australians Italian Australians Scottish Australians German Australians Polish Australians Maltese Australians Croatian Australians Welsh Australians Spanish Australians Dutch Australians French Australians The Kiwis: Māori people New Zealanders Pacific Islander European New Zealanders Samoans Pākehā Pasifika New Zealanders Samoan New Zealanders Polynesians Chinese New Zealanders These are all proper nouns and can you imagine giving the Māori people a small “m”

  39. Konn

    wam, Aborigines already have a voice.
    From the Aust Parliamentary Education Office ( – “How many Aboriginal or Torres Straits Islander MPs or Senators are there and what are their names? As of July 2022, there are and 8 senators and 3 members of the House of Representatives who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.” Senator Dorinda Cox WA, Senator Patrick Dodson WA, Senator Jacqui Lambie Tasmania, Senator Kerrynne Liddle SA, Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy, NT Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price NT, Senator Jana Stewart Victoria, Senator Lidia Thorpe Victoria, The Hon Linda Burney MP Member for Barton, Dr Gordon Reid Member for Robertson, Ms Marion Scrymgour Member for Lingiari.
    The PEO loaded that page so that school children can understand the situation, why can’t the media get it?
    Why are we thinking about changing the Constitution, a document that applies to all Australians?

  40. Stephengb

    Sorry wam, I can’t untangle your response, yes Incan see some spelling mistakes in my comment. And yes I missed the use of capital in a proper name. My apologies.

  41. leefe

    Stephen ,

    Perhaps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aren’t like every other group of citizens? They have been, and are, uniquely disadvantaged by the invasion and colonisation of this land.

  42. Florence nee Fedup

    The MPs & senators you have listed are not there to represent First Nation people. Their job is to work for the people who elected them. In 1957 by a massive, record majority, we gave the Federal government permission to make laws considering Aboriginals. Is not a voice, as requested, an extension of this legislation? Is there in the constitution ability for them to make laws that only apply to any other ethnic group? I believe not, nor should there be.

    Are all Aboriginals & Torres Straight Islanders one ethnic group?

  43. Konn

    Florence nee Fedup. Where to start? Those on the list are “not there to represent First Nation people”. Yet they ID as First Nation people. I vote for the ideas a candidate is supporting. Ethnics is not a factor.
    The 1957 vote was Aussies saying they were done with the Squattocracy class excluding, as leefe notes, an “uniquely disadvantaged” group of people from the right to vote.
    Re ATSI being made up of more than one ethnic group, what has ethnicity got to do with the Constitution?
    Does the govt intend to create a panel of reps made up of each and every ethic group in ATSI?
    How many distinct groups are there? https: //
    The Constitution can be amended over time, but it needs to be well-argued that the new version will be better.
    I’m seeing no advantage The Voice offers given the number of First Nation people already in Parliament now.

  44. Stephengb


    So you think the Aboriginal and Torres Strait – are not like others and unique!

    I quote you.
    “Perhaps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aren’t like every other group of citizens? They have been, and are, uniquely disadvantaged by the invasion and colonisation of this land”

  45. leefe

    Yes, I said they have been uniquely disadvantaged by invasion and colonisation. Don’t try to twist that into anything else.
    There was a viable culture here, not perfect but it worked and facilitated survival under extremely harsh environmental conditions for over 60,000 years and it did so without the massive environmental damage that has been wreaked over the last 250 years. That culture has been severely damaged, the land has been damaged, people have been marginalised and discriminated against and traumatised through generations and it is still happening. Surely you can’t deny that?
    That does not mean that they, individually are any “more unique” than the rest of Australia’s inhabitants; it means that as a group they are in a particularly distinct position and it is not an enviable one.

  46. Stephengb

    Sorry Leefe,.
    You are right to correct me.

    It does not alter my view, I have acknowledged that the inhabitants of this land were treated very badly. As they reated the convects both were beaten and robbed and murdered, so I do not agree that they were dealt with uniquely, you only have to look to the USA.

    Please refer to my original response to Mr Springer (May 21, 2023 at 7:23 pm) where I said deliberately the following:

    Before I proceed, I want to make it absolutely clear that I have NO objection for our Constitution to recognise that the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islander’s, did inhabit this land called Australia prior to1788.

    Yes I do absolutely recognise that the treatment (incuding murder) of the original inhabitants was little more than barbaric, and yes the mistreatment exists to this day.

    I went on to express my current opinion about the voice to parliament and the executive.

    It seems that the ‘yes’ vote are not recognising the following facts:
    1. That the recognition of the inhabitants prior to 1788 is enshrined in our Constitution.
    2. That and the construct of an institute to advise Parliament is enshrined in our Constitution.
    3. That the institution will have the Constitutional right to advise our Parliament and the Executve.

    Now I absolutely agree with item 1. but I am reluctant for items 2. and 3. and I gave my reasons for my opinion, an opinion that I am entitled to my opinion.

    I appreciate that the yes voters will disagree, and I recognise their opinion, however , you, think it acceptable to attack me, implying that I am a racist.

    Indeed from your response to me , I suspect that it is you that is a racist.

  47. leefe

    First, Stephen, disagreement is not bigotry, nor is it an attack.

    Second, I think we may be operating with different definitions of racism. I think more in terms of what might be called structural racism; it requires a power differential between the oppressing group and the oppressed. You seem – and correct me if I’m wrong – to go for a simpler definition: that it is purely treating someone differently or thinking of someone as being less due to their ethnic/racial background.
    By my definition it is not possible, in a colonial society, to be racist towards members of the predominant ethnic/racial group/s because they are the group that holds power. One can be bigoted, one can discriminate, but one cannot be racist under rthose conditions.

    For the rest, I’m tempted to quote Mr Spock here: A difference that makes no difference, is no difference.
    The only change that you seem to be prepared to accept is one that makes no actual, effective change to the staus quo; ie no real difference at all. Nod in their general direction but don”t do anything that will alter the currrent modus operandi. “Yes, I am prepared to say that you exist and have existed for a long time, but the power remains in MY hands.”

    Without the Voice (and, as soon as possible, Treaty), Constituational recognition is meaningless lip service.

    So, that’s my opinion and, as you said elsewhere, learn to live with it.

  48. Stephengb

    Thank you leefe

    You have made up mind – it will be NO !

    Well played.

  49. leefe

    Oh, please. You were always going to say No; just admit it and drop the pretence.

  50. Florence nee Fedup

    Konn, most MPs & senators declare their ethnicity. Why is it different for the first people to do so? Race should have nothing to do with this referendum. Same as we should never have had a white Australian policy. Irrelevant on all counts. If that is the case, how can the question, if passed, result in Dutton’s re-racialised of the nation?

    Because you see no advantage is not an argument for voting no. The First Nation people do. Your comment about setting up panels for each ethnic group in ATSI is nonsense. It is not about race but the people here when Captain Cook visited.

  51. Stephengb

    Yes I saw what was proposed, read the model voice instution, listened to those supporting the voice, and decided that the proposal was (is) a direction against the democratic principles that I have always believed the Australian system represents
    I had hoped that someone could give me a reason to change my mind, but all I get is, play the man, and a repeat of reasoning that does nothing but create division, as indeed this string illustrates perfectly.

    There is no pretence, just an honest statement of my current opinion which, you in particular, have said nothing to dissuade me.

  52. Michael Taylor

    This piece of bullshit is flooding Facebook.

    All this would happen, apparently, if the “Yes” vote wins.

    It’s utter rubbish and is an indication of how low the “No” camp will go.

  53. Stephengb

    In spite of the divisive exchange between myself and Leefe, this is the must scurrilous bit of disinformation I have seen in all of my life.

    It is a classic example of the rampant racism, that is alive and well in this country.

    I disagree with proposed change of wording in our Constitution, but I Do Not condone racism no matter who are the victim.

  54. Terence Mills


    I believe that the NIAA is the National Indigenous Australians Agency, an Australian Government agency responsible for whole-of-government coordination of policy development, program design, and service delivery for Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islander people.

    Have they denounced this mischief ?

  55. Michael Taylor

    I’m not sure, Terry.

    Someone sent it to me in the wee hours of the morning and I haven’t yet followed it up.

  56. Liam

    Voting “Yes” to undo the damage done this centuary, perhaps it can’t hold a candle to the last two, but something is better than nothing, which is all the “no” side seem to want.

  57. Knee

    I think Stephen is just racist not gonna lie lmao. His argument is just that “they shouldn’t have rights”

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