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Yes or No or Neutral?

By Jane Salmon

Eight generations ago, my dirt-poor Celtic ancestors were colonisers. They logged trees, eroded the land. They brutalised animals. They farmed, fought, bred and built for themselves.

They probably also abused Aboriginal women or stockmen and participated in genocide. The evidence is well hidden but pops up in hints such as Aboriginal families bearing my surname across the rural area where my great-grandfather worked.

This has been minimised by subsequent generations determined to steep their identity in middle-class suburban “niceness”. They claimed to be “self-made” bankers. Land ownership has been an obsession for all of them.

The same Aborigines who were told by my forebears that they didn’t polish the silver properly could not have any level of dominion over their own lives. They were only given the vote in 1967.

“Money spent on them was wasted,” said the same patriarchs who stole their wages.

Perhaps white women should identify with Aborigines more. Yet Aborigines have always been welcoming to refugees, hospitable to me. The Aboriginal passports sent to refugees on Manus are a case in point.

So why should new migrants care? Because erasure and homogenisation keeps happening. You may have come here to escape discrimination, but you also want to protect your own precious cultural heritage.

And where was the equality Jacinta Price speaks of, that day in 1993 when we saw an Aboriginal woman turned away from a half empty church-run women’s refuge in Eastern Sydney? White hookers who had actually injected drugs in the waiting room of Childrens’ Court (while awaiting custodial hearings) were treated better.

Where is the equality when the nearest petrol station is many hours drive from where you were raised and where a handful of green beans costs $20?

The level playing field does not exist. The LNP are the first to claim every advantage or opportunity for themselves before kicking the ladder away. They socialise their losses while privatising profit. Then they whine about red tape … when not tangling lowlier Australians up in it.

I will be voting Yes proudly. Affirmative action of any kind is not handicapping the rest of us. It is redress.

And no matter how hard or tedious the dialogue is, it is honorable and necessary.


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  1. RosemaryJ36

    Redress. Is long overdue!

  2. RomeoCharlie

    Well said. Jacinta Price should not use an Indigenous name, she shames it and that part of her heritage. And she is wrong about so many things. No wonder so many First Nations people say she doesn’t speak for them. It must be dawning on the waverers that those proposing a ‘No’ vote not only tell lies, spread disinformation and foment fear, they now contradict themselves and each other. When one of the leading Indigenous leaders of the ‘No’ campaign denies there is Indigenous disadvantage you can only shrug and say she lies, again.

  3. Steve Davis

    Excellent !

  4. New England Cocky

    “The level playing field does not exist. The LNP are the first to claim every advantage or opportunity for themselves before kicking the ladder away. They socialise their losses while privatising profit. Then they whine about red tape … when not tangling lowlier Australians up in it.”

    The above continuing whine from Beetrooter and his Campaign Manager John Anderson. When will the ladies of Tamworth raise their personal standards above the adulterous & alcoholic antics of the representative of the NOtional$?

  5. Terence Mills

    Jacinta Price describes herself as a “Warlpiri-Celtic” woman reflecting her heritage from both her mother and her father. I find that quite refreshing at a time when so many people of tenuous Aboriginal connection describe themselves in the fashion of the day as a man or woman of a particular tribal or clan group but choose to ignore their European, Chinese or other ethnic heritage.

    I heard Jacinta at the National Press Club and found her coherent, intelligent and challenging in her ideas and her perspective on the Aboriginal condition. But, I remind myself that she merely reflects her own experiences and cannot speak for all the indigenous people of Australia.

    I tend to agree with her that the intergenerational impacts of colonisation should not constantly be used as an excuse for under achievement and special treatment. Think of the trauma suffered by so many migrants leaving their home lands, particularly those escaping Europe and Hitler’s holocaust after WWII : they had the opportunity to start a new life here and they seized it.

    She makes the point that entrenching the Voice in the constitution means that it is potentially there forever even when the so called ‘gap’ is a thing of the past and first nation’s people participate as equals at all levels of our society – she has a point.

    I will nonetheless be voting YES !

  6. andyfiftysix

    terence, let me take you up on a couple of points you make.
    “I find that quite refreshing ……..” Yes well it seems she wants to change her “identity” according to the audience.
    ” they had the opportunity………..” if you wish, i can compare My parents experiences coming here with a suitecase and nothing else but thats not going to support your statement at all.
    “She makes the point that entrenching the Voice ……” Well when they are “equal”, surely the voice wont be listened to but my feeling is that it will take at least another hundred years, we are ” fast learners” in australia. I am prepared to wait.
    Ms Price was elected as a ” token representative” . Its backfired spectacularly. She fails to have any empathy as her comments clearly show. So now we have the spectacle of her opposing everyone’s position. Clearly she aint going to get a treaty so you have to ask the question, WTF is she doing? I will tell what she is doing, she is pretending to be Tony Abbott, you know destroy everything because you value your self importance above everyone else.

  7. Terence Mills


    thanks for your comments, but :

    “Yes well it seems she wants to change her “identity” according to the audience.” Well, her father is Scottish and her mother Walpiri – whats’ your point ?

    “i can compare My parents experiences coming here with a suitecase and nothing else” What are you saying, that your parents did not have the opportunities offered by Australia to migrants ?

  8. Andrew Smith

    Hoping the ‘No’ vote has shot its load too early allowing all to see the clear lack of integrity, including the silent but deep pocketed financial supporters in the background and Brexit type push or ongoing campaigns in media featuring numerous pollsters &/or polls passing judgement already, to induce the ‘bandwagon effect’ to vote ‘No’.

    Many behind ‘No’ especially including the LNP, are happy to follow Murdoch led media, IPA, influencers/trolls and ON/SPA talking points or dog whistling of The Voice and ‘Yes’, but if ‘No’, they lose too.

    It may well spell the end of the Liberal Party as we know it, becoming QLD LNP, more like Trump’s GOP/white nationalist Christians and Tories/Reform all leading to ‘segregation socio-economics’ or simply eugenics (via Buchanan, muse of Kochs/Atlas of which IPA is linked); electoral suicide in SE Australia….

  9. Keitha Granville


    Why would anyone vote NO to some words in a document most have NEVER read (don’t jump on me, I said most) giving our indigenous people a chance to make their lives better ??? Why ??? If the naysayers are right and it doesn’t make a difference then we’ve lost nothing, but if it does, to just ONE indigenous community anywhere in this wide brown land, then it will be worth its weight in gold.


  10. Harry Lime

    andyfiftysix, she has clearly been used by the party machine to give legitimacy to their opposition,because it fits nicely with their lies about the Voice.In other words she has been dudded by the political opportunism of the bald headed fucker,who is soon to be shunted into well deserved ignominy.
    terence, the only ‘point’ she has is to demonstrate how politics in this country has managed to poison someone against her own, and her people’s best interests.
    You might include someone like Mundine,who is so bitter and twisted,he would require a battalion of shrinks to fathom him.

  11. Phil Pryor

    People have often said that some standards should apply to being a public figure, a representaive, a political symbol, and, that the low levels of much of, say, corporate life would be clearly defective. Ms. Price, who is now a senator for some changeing affiliation, or temporary allegiance, like so many of the scummy bastards who career away for money from us they do not deserve, is quite clearly a defective, an undereducated fantasist, an assertive fictioneeer, a rubbishy raver, and it may be because she has suffered, unknowingly to her, from an accumulation of mental deficit and a paucity of abilites which did not develop, because she is indigenous and so has been deprived, short changed, diminished. She Should vote YES, clearly. Ms. Price needs to catch with accuracy, honesty, reality, factuality, history and research, and deserves our assistance by a YES vote.

  12. B Sullivan

    If your Celtic ancestors were dirt poor then they would not have had dominion, or sovereignty if you prefer the current buzzword, over their own lives. Their lives would have been determined by those with power over them, that is, the wealthy, who would have abused them without the slightest hesitation, if it furthered their own interests. Perhaps your dirt-poor Celtic ancestors were victims of the genocide known as the Great Irish Potato Famine that occurred during a period of bountiful harvests of food that was priced at a level which they simply could not afford. Perhaps they were turned out of their ancestral homes because the lands they had always lived on were more valuable to the wealthy for grazing sheep.

    The powerful wealthy people who abused those dirt poor people made no effort to hide the evidence of that abuse. Why would they? They were just powerful wealthy people exercising their privilege, which extended to a dominating influence on government and its ability to legislate controls to limit the abuse of poor people.

    Your ancestors probably didn’t qualify to vote even if they were male, and Catholics in any case were not allowed to vote until the end the 19th Century with the catholic emancipation act. They would have laboured at hard, and probably dangerous work for a pittance. They would have been treated by the law as criminals for no other reason than because they were poor.

    Do you get my point? It has something to do with equality.

    Before the stolen generations there was baby farming. An industry that exploited unmarried mothers and dirt poor people who couldn’t afford to keep their children. It existed in Australia just as it did elsewhere in the world, like in Ireland with its infamous catholic Magdalene Laundries where unmarried mothers were incarcerated and used as slave labour while their babies were ‘sold’ to wealthy foster parents, usually in the US, who had made generous donations to the church. The last Magdalene Laundry was shut down in the 1990’s.

    The equality of injustice is not strained.

    So consider that your dirt poor Celtic ancestors may be more sinned against than sinning. If so, who is calling out for justice for them?

    Aboriginal people could be given a voice to air their concerns to parliament, by a simple act of legislation that the LNP does not have the numbers to prevent from being passed. Yet we are being forced by the Labor government to amend the constitution before they will allow the voice to be enacted. At a time in history when genetic science has been able to conclusively discredit the false and destructive belief that humans are dived into different races the Labor government wants Australia to enshrine this false belief in race in its Constitution. I suspect the motive is to avoid treating a purely social issue of inequality for what it is. Pretending it is a racial issue let’s them off the hook. As long as they can con people into thinking the injustice is about race they can shirk their duty to address the real issue – the time-honoured lucrative business of exploiting the poor.

  13. Steve Davis

    B Sullivan, an excellent argument, well presented. Thank you for looking at the bigger picture, we need more of that no matter what the issue.

    Your final sentence is a beauty, making a point that I’ve made elsewhere in a different context, and perhaps, without your concision.

    But I’ll be voting Yes because the transition to a just world will not be made in a single leap. This is an opportunity to take one small step.

    If the referendum gets up it may not change much in a material sense, but it will signal a change in consciousness. A change of consciousness than can be developed further.

    It’s likely that a change of consciousness will occur even if the referendum fails, as good folk taken in by the No case will have time to reflect in the months and years to come.

    Any advance towards a just world is worth the effort.

  14. Brad

    B Sullivan, I have a similar view. Recently I watched a couple of interviews with First Nations people not in favor of ‘The Voice’ as a concept to be legislated into the Constitution. ‘The Voice’, because it will be a corporation within the framework of government, is going to have an Australian Business Number, just like Libs & Labor have ABNs. Once First Nations people are deemed to be represented by ‘The Voice’ corporation, they effectively lose their right to claim sovereignty. The interviewees noted that 97% of people voting in the referendum are not First Nations people, yet the general public believe they have the right to tell First Nations people how they should run their lives. There is a lot to fix in the system. For a start, audit the services that currently fail in their charter.

  15. Heyley

    Mulara has some good material that supports the vote:

  16. Clakka

    Indeed, Jacinta Price is well known around Alice Springs and Darwin, for not having achieved anything for indigenous (or others) as either a councillor nor as state MP. Same goes for her mother, and her father is well known as a revisionist cooker (for years). Their home mob is Walpiri, and by indigenous tradition ought not seek to represent the views of the Arrernte, which she has claimed / inferred.

    I have been listening / watching her manoeuvres for quite some time, and it is plain to me she is hell bent on seeking personal elevation / celebrity. Like the appalling Warren Mundine (Chairman of CPAC etc), neo-fascist glove-puppets seeking advance by punching down on the blacks (something similar to how Noel Pearson described them).

    I found her NPC address to be a pile of inconsistent revisionist sophistry, a thinly disguised soft-glove brutality, and an arrogance of sweeping aside the well recorded and well known issues faced by many indigenous. And also a sweeping aside of an Oz-wide decade-long process of and by the indigenous (and their supportive experts) condensed into the request of the Uluru Statement.

    It contained the usual grabs of glaring tripe about the Voice extinguishing of sovereignty and the voiding of ability to make treaty. The former, notions of sovereignty, an entangled multi-decade long complexity that may never be resolved, and the latter an utter falsehood.

    It was plain to see she had not crafted her speech herself as she stammered her way through it, reinforcing herself with unnecessary brutish demeanour, and inserting illogical phrase-grab elaborations. Her gobbledegook pertaining to the Constitution extant was alarmingly false, and her utter wipe-out of historical fact, and affect of the progression through history to today was remarkable, when it is entirely relevant to the matter of the Voice.

    It would seem that Price advocates for a neo-assimilationist progression to the foundational matters. Opting for yet another Royal Commission into the inadequacy, and corruption of feeble and loophole-ridden legislations extant, the diversions and failures of application, delivery and affect. Hardly an option in lieu of the Voice mandated in the Constitution, followed by its concomitant legislation. What; yet more decades-long Royal Commissions to have constrained terms of reference, and it’s outcomes ignored?

    Price’s narrative and that of the political naysayers, appears to ignore the the horrendous facts and lessons of history and the resultant ongoing inequity, and instead be running on a continuation of previous and current institutionalised guileful disentitlement of the indigenous.

    Early on after Albanese announced the Uluru Statement from the Heart would be put to the people and implemented in full, and Littleproud then Dutton decided not to support it but try to use it to politically wound Albanese, their original scattergun, hair-brained emotive objections of scant rationale were all over the place. They now appear to have developed their objections into a quagmire of confabulation, perhaps running on a recipe.

    As for the palaver about the Voice to be registered as a (private) business with an ABN, here’s a FactCheck.

  17. Brad

    Clakka, thanks for the link to FactCheck, “However, . . it would have to register for a government organisation ABN to meet any tax and superannuation obligations.” How is it not a corporation? A basic question is how will the ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice’ be acting in the Parliament? I’m confused. Besides serving as a corporation with an ABN and rubbing shoulders with various Lib-Lab hypocritters who’ve made little attempt to help First Nations people to date, will they (ATSIV) also be serving as sovereign people on behalf of the sovereign indigenous people? The referendum is a dog’s breakfast.

  18. Clakka

    Brad, having an ABN does not mean it is or has to be a ‘corporation’. In the backgrounding Calma Langston Report there are numerous models as to the structural mechanisms of the Voice and the Makarrata (treaty / truth telling). As stated in the Voice clause proposed for the Constitution includes:

    ” … 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.”

    And this will be done via a bill and legislation brought to law by the parliament. It will include matters such as financing, tax and superannuation and etc etc etc. It could for example be decided that it will be a tax exempt entity – there are many. And how contributors to the Voice will be renumerated. All this is a quite normal process for all entities either incorporated or not when they carry out business of any kind, and employ people or contract with people or other organisations and / or the government. Same applies for example for charities. It is normally complex and requires the input of various experts, specialists and lawyers in its establishment. There is NO ALTERNATIVE, regardless of how one attempts to go about it, whether it is included in the Constitution or not. It is complex, and the average ‘Joe Blow’ would have to spend years of intense study and learning to understand that it’s formulated by centuries of tried and tested sound procedural frameworks. It is understandable that ‘Joe Blow’ could see that legislative process as a ‘dog’s breakfast’.

    In that regard, it is notable, and ironic that Dutton has pledged to do a Voice via legislation alone, without it being in the Constitution – same ‘dog’s breakfast’?

    With regard to the Voice proposal in the Constitution, it’s simple, and all we are being asked about, and is what the Statement from the Heart asked for. Here’s an explainer from the parliament.

  19. Teiresias

    clakka, thank you for your excellent treatment of Jacinta Price’s speech. She is thankful for what her parents have done for her. She seems to have no concern about what has happened to Indigenous people since the arrival of the colonists. She, like other people of Indigenous origins, in the Senate, for example, can look closely at any institutions which aid indigenous people and see which of them are doing well and which are not. Then fix the failures. So #8 in the NO case page 17 says the Voice would be “Costly and bureaucratic.” Aren’t the assisting entities already bureaucratic? When they are fixed, won’t they be even more costly? Surely a Voice would be less costly with access to Government money? As well, the idea “There is no No issue beyond its scope:” (#6) is quite wrong. “It won’t help Indigenous Australians” (#4) is just what it will do and it will add to Australia. “It divides us (#3) says it will ” divide us by race'” The NO campaign as Marcia Langton said, “racist and stupid”

  20. andyfiftysix

    obviously Terence, you havent lived the migrant experience. It was a lot of hard work and heartache. Sure a few who learned the tricks of the trade made it but i can tell you from experience many suffered to better them selves.

    Changing your identiy acording to your audience is what politicians do. Libs tell queenslanders no to renewables and then tells the rest of the country its for 100% renewables. So what is Jacinta on? she got voted in to represent a token aboriginal voice and now she says colonialisation was good for them. What kind of two faced animal is she?

    Sorry Terence I really dont know why you had to ask.

  21. wam

    A good read, Jane and YES will win.
    The clp is a racist, sexist, anti-A(notice the proper noun Andy56)boriginal right wing political party with a long history of thieving Aboriginal grant money. It got so bad the lying rodent sanctioned the use. Every 3 years this party has a guaranteed senate seat which the gifted to an Aboriginal woman. WHY??? Make no mistake Jacinta is politically strong with ex-Kormilda students rallying with ‘let’s say no to this gammon referendum’.
    Jacinta is voting no for the opposite reason to her party. Labor should make capital out of that.

  22. Zathras

    From Price’s reckless comment, if the First Nation people are so blessed there mustn’t really be a gap to be addressed and if she truly wants equality then she should canvas the notion of shutting down all those government departments needed for specific needs.
    Not likely!

    The argument that this referendum has divided the country is misleading.
    What it has done is to hold up a mirror to the fragmented and angry society we have become and the Yes/No factions seem to mostly line up with political views.

  23. Marilla Nirth

    Totally agree.

    The hypocrisy of the NO vote appals me.

    Whilst I recognise the blurred edges in the political fractures amongst the warriors of the Indigenous freedom fighters I also beg them to focus on the Big Picture and let the other stuff get sorted out once Constitutional Recognition is achieved!

    I am saddened at the denial of the patent truth of the slow but sure Genocide (underwritten by white governance by humiliation and degradation of the oppressed Indigenous people) … a Genocide of neglect and blind-eyed denial of the death-wish via suicide and self-harm with drugs and alcohol … forever the panacea of the beaten and powerless of any class, colour or community.

    I am sickened by the lack of compassion in the white majority for the powerless On the Indigenous populace.

    It is trendy to fight for the human rights of Refugees. But it is not so glamorous to stand up and defend our own home-grown dispossessed.

  24. frances

    Thank you Jane Salmon for such a heartfelt piece. YES, for redress, honourable and necessary.

    Thank you Clakka for such a concise and reasoned opinion.
    “..thinly-disguised soft glove brutality”, just awful.

    It seems to me there’s an energy to Price’s denialism indicative of a suppressed backstory of sufficient traumatic power to precipitate a revisionist “wipe-out of historical fact”, as you put it. This might explain its perfect marriage with the ideological denialism/nihilism of ultra Right elements now underwriting the NO Campaign. They must have thought all their xmases had come at once when Price jumped on board. What a terrible dove-tail and (potential) repeat of history if so.

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