After much ‘ado’ about the Voice to parliament in the media, the bill to authorize the historic referendum passed the Senate on the morning of Monday, 19 June with 52 votes in favor to 19 against the legislation.
It is not surprising that its champion crusader, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese claims the ‘power’ of the proposed Voice to parliament ‘strikes the right balance’. and unsurprisingly has vowed to campaign for a Yes vote.
“Some people say this goes too far, some say it doesn’t go far enough. I say we’ve got the balance right,” Albanese said.
“It is just that – an advisory body – but Voice is a powerful word. Because it will give First Nations people a voice and it’s up to us to listen to that voice. The truth is that for most people watching this, it will have no direct impact on their lives but it just might make lives better for the most disadvantaged group in Australia today.”
Unfortunately for me, the sketchy idea from day, when the details are completely missing, smacks of being the politics of the optics. The only real and meaningful thing about the idea is the constitutional recognition of the First Nation people.
I fear it will only bleed millions of dollars every year, without real delivery of services to those most vulnerable and disadvantaged.
The pity is, the media and those responsible for ‘keep the bastards honest’, seem to have joined in for fear of being labeled not ‘woke enough’ in today’s social media landscape.
For my argument against the referendum without fully detailed mechanism and political and legal scope, which will cost Australia $364.6 million, I just want to analyze Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s statement above.
The PM said: “It is just that – an advisory body – but Voice is a powerful word. Because it will give First Nations people a voice and it’s up to us to listen to that voice.
The above statement is cleverly worded to walk both sides of the fence.
It gives the impression the measure will deliver ‘an advisory body’ of the First Nation’s People a ‘power’ – to speak on Australian law making.
But it also seems to suggest that the parliament will be at liberty to do whatever it wants – ignore, downsize, circumvent or implement at its own will, the advice given by that body.
The question is – is that going to be the case?
If the answer is ‘Yes’, then my question to the Prime Minister is – what’s the point in doing the exercise?
And then the PM said:
The truth is that for most people watching this, it will have no direct impact on their lives but it just might make lives better for the most disadvantaged group in Australia today.”
The above addition to the PM’s statement just confirms how conflicted the whole idea / concept the PM has been briefed on.
The clear takeaways from the what the Prime Minister said, are:
1. The Voice will be an Advisory body of some select First Nation people;
2. The parliament will be free to do whatever/ignore its advice;
3. Most Australians will not be impacted;
And yet somehow
4. It ‘might’ make lives better for (some) First Nation people.
The Prime Minister’s use of words ‘just might make lives better’ – is not and must not be taken as accidental.
I believe the Labor party is ill-advised on the issue and must go back to drawing boards to see what will be the best for Australia in the long term.
It is critical to work out details of its ongoing costs and the political and legal scope and weight of the advice, the advisory body will deliver.
The idea should also not impede our democratic processes by adding another legal layer which has the potential to bring about a constitutional or legal deadlock rather than taking care of the most vulnerable in our society.
Creating another layer of bureaucracy as is being mooted (it has failed in the past – remember ATSIC on which we spent $1.1 billion each year?), is definitely not the way to go about it.
Australia needs to bring First Nation people and its migrant population together not segregate them into two permanently separate groups.
Here is what I think should happen to the Voice to parliament
If any of our politicians show symptoms of not being able to care of all Australians including the First Nation people, they should get out of parliament real quick.
The constitutional recognition of Australia’s First Nation people is long overdue and should happen without delay.
To me, many of our politicians are playing the politics of ‘wokeism’, (perhaps some without realizing).
When they subscribe to the idea (as it currently is) – of a permanent advisory body of First Nation people as the only way to care or our First Nation people – should it be concluded that our current politicians, (many of whom are of First Nation descent) are incapable of taking care of the most disadvantaged in our society?
Some will cite ‘cultural sensitivities ‘and ‘traditions’ of First Nation people to rebut my argument and label it as ‘unfair’ on politicians.
To me, from what I have seen and read, the current Voice to Parliament model, if implemented ‘as is’, will end up burdening our nation with a very divisive, white elephant which will devour millions of dollars every year and may not deliver any tangible benefits for anyone.
Definitely not the way to go.
Now that the narrative is et, only reservation is the way forward.
Despite having seen how Indian politicians have played ‘vote banks’ for more than seven decades on ‘reservation’ of various sorts, regrettably, given the way the head honchos of this cause have set the narrative, reserving places for talent from among the First Nation people within our current structures – seems to be the only and most cost-effective way forward. Thus, I suggest our politicians should choose from the following options:
1. Reserving a portion of elected members of each political party to be of the First Nation people descent;
2. Reserving a portion of advisors employed by our politicians (more for the government side) to be of the First Nation people descent;
3. Reserving a portion of our bureaucracy to be of the First Nation people descent;
4. Making the government funding to any educational universities and think tanks conditional to ensure – they should reserve places for intellectuals from the First Nation people to lend a voice to express their concerns on issues important to them which will ultimately find its way to feed into the political narrative of the country.
Thus, I appeal to the Prime Minister to have a good hard look on the current model of the Voice to parliament during the winter break and save the country from wasting the money and monumental effort we will put in holding the referendum, which is moving towards a guaranteed NO result.
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