‘The Voice’ may end up uniting us after all

It might sound a strange thing to say, but it could be that the constitutional referendum that would divide us may actually bring us together and give new hope to Aboriginal Australians.

In October 2022, The Voice proposal looked unassailable with somewhere around 65 percent popular support.

An average of polls reveal support for a constitutional change stands at somewhere around 42 percent, although it may be as low as 34 percent.

It’s in the interests of all Australians, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, for the referendum to go down by the largest margin possible. That way, the result will not only be clear, but it will be clearly the view of most of the country.

Indigenous politics has been bedevilled by the attitude that Aboriginal Australians are somehow different from other Australians. Even the High Court thinks (Love and Thoms v. Commonwealth) that they somehow have a different nature which arises from their “spiritual connection” to the earth.

This type of attitude leads to some Indigenous communities living in a sort of limbo, expected to maintain a stoneage-type existence while enjoying the privileges of modern life, and that they will be this way forever.

It’s a museum version of indigeneity, where the past is available for other Australians to visit on package tours, buy some nicknacks, and return the comfortable present in the rest of Australia-and it is simply demeaning.

If the referendum goes down decisively it will be a signal to Aborigines that they need to do something about their current leadership who have brought them to this.

It will also be a signal to the federal government that Australians, including many Aboriginal Australians, are not interested in one group, defined by racial descent, being a protected species.

But I think it goes much further than that.

Plenty to Learn About Young, Progressive Voters

Initial polling showed that the better educated and younger you are, the more likely you were to favour the referendum, and that if you are female, you are more likely to be a supporter than if you are male. According to the latest Newspoll (one of Australia’s most accurate pollsters), there are now more No than Yes votes in every demographic.

That is simply stunning, particularly compared to recent election results where centre-left Labor and the left-wing Greens have held huge majorities over the votes of women, the university-educated, and the young.

A strong result will tell the government that not only have they misread the electorate, but they have misread their own electors. It should also tell the Opposition the same thing.

This means, in turn, that the culturally Marxist view of the world that this government is prosecuting is not one the people who elected them necessarily share.

We should not be surprised. It is yet another demonstration of the axiom that voters choose the least worst alternative, not ideals, and that the support of the electorate for any government is extremely conditional.

This should cause the government to focus on more bread-and-butter issues like cost of living, and suggest to them they should spend less time listening to the Greens and fellow travellers, and more time listening to the Opposition, rather than demonising them as “extremists.”

Change in the Aboriginal Community Is Due Too

Hopefully, it will also lead to a changing of the guard of Aboriginal leadership.

This referendum, injecting an Aboriginal consultative body into the Constitution, never made any sense as a method of Aboriginal recognition. Recognition and consultation are two entirely different concepts.

The only thing that made sense is that it was an attempt by some Aboriginal leaders to give themselves, or their proteges, a government-funded pulpit that could never be removed.

This was then their path to agitate for Truth-telling, Treaty, and Reparations-a reductionist approach to race relations that is more about money than advancement.

There are histories and libraries full of truth-telling, although there are also some lies, like Bruce Pascoe’s “Dark Emu,” and Native Title as a form of treaty.

Reparations never made any sense. Nowhere in the world has such a long period of settlement led to reparations, and no durable settlement is achievable if we are to relitigate the loss of territory going back generations. Where would it stop?

Dispossession has been the way of this continent since the first Aborigines arrived with one group pushing out other groups who have been forced to move on.

Europeans are the first arrivals to do this, and to recognise that conquest is no longer a just way of settling land ownership in the modern world.

That enlightened attitude led to the land rights movement where vast amounts of Australia are now owned or controlled by Aborigines on their traditional lands.

Senator Jacinta Price, whose representations have almost single-handedly won the debate around The Voice, has called for a new approach to Aboriginal development.

The way to Aboriginal improvement is not fighting over the past but moving forward into the future as so many Australians of all racial identities have done.

This country is so filled with potential that migrants queue up to arrive, some of them illegally. Its bounty is here for all citizens to enjoy.

Aboriginal Australians in remote communities have the same opportunities, but they are fenced in by the “soft bigotry of low expectations” where they are held to different standards. This results in low rates of school attendance and high rates of violence and alcohol abuse.

There are also cultural issues that need to be addressed, particularly “humbugging,” which is the practice of making collectivist demands on friends and relatives for their assets.

And there is often a lack of freehold land which remote Aborigines can own, giving themselves the security of tenure, and the ability should they desire, to borrow to build a business.

These are issues that need to be addressed on an individualistic basis, not a collectivist one, just as the problems of most Australians are best solved by them themselves, rather than a bureaucracy with cookie-cutter solutions.

A Final Lesson for Political Advisors

There is also a lesson for all politicians here.

Polling can tell you how big the task is, but it should never be your guide as to whether to undertake the task at all.

When you have the courage to argue for what you believe to be right, polls can change.

Imagine what a different world we might live in today if more politicians had spoken out about the policies enacted during COVID-19. We might be less in debt, and healthier, as a result.

A close result in this weekend’s referendum might encourage the government to double down on its policies, but a decisive result should cause a genuine rethink.

This article was originally published by the Epoch Times.