I don’t watch much commercial TV, but my Dad is staying with us for a few weeks, and he likes to watch the news. Last night I saw for the first time one of the taxpayer funded advertisements for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
I was appalled at its dishonesty.
It began by saying the Constitution is 123 years old, and “still doesn’t recognise indigenous people.” How shocking! How racist! Except it is nothing of the sort. The Constitution still doesn’t recognise white people, or Chinese people, or Italians, or middle-aged redheads with bushy eyebrows. Why am I excluded? ☹
The reason people of my ethnicity are not recognised in the Constitution is that no race is specifically mentioned in the Constitution. To repeat; the reason people of Irish, African, Vietnamese, or Australian Aboriginal descent are not recognised in the Constitution is that no race is specifically mentioned in the Constitution. This is not racist or exclusionary. It the exact opposite. No race is singled out for recognition or special treatment because we have a commitment as a nation to treating everyone of every race and background as equal before the law, with equal rights and obligations.
The ad, paid for by you whether you like it or not, continued by saying the Voice would give indigenous Australians a say in their own future. But they already have a say. In fact, lots of says.
According to the 2021 Census, people of aboriginal descent make up about 3.8% of Australia’s population – an increase of 30% since the previous census in 2016. But people claiming aboriginal descent make up nearly 8% of elected representatives in our Federal Parliament. In addition there are multiple bodies which claim to lobby for and represent the interests of indigenous people.
The National Indigenous Australians Agency says its purpose is to be: “responsible for whole-of-government coordination of policy development, program design, and service delivery for Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islander people, who are grouped under the term Indigenous Australians.”
This body is funded by taxpayers to the extent of over $1 billion per year. It is one of many.
Despite what the ads tell you, aboriginal leaders are far from unanimously supportive of the Voice. Voice advocates in Canberra flatly refused to meet with a group of aboriginal people who had travelled from around Australia to talk to them about concerns they had about being separated by race, and about additional layers of bureaucracy in consultation and delivering services.
Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine has visited and talked to people in Aboriginal communities around Australia. He says most of them are suspicious of the Voice, regard it as another white-fella feel good scheme, and do not believe it will do them any practical good. Jacinta Price says the last thing most aboriginal people want is to be singled out by race, and that what is needed is not yet another expensive “voice’ but ears which are willing to listen.
Sadly, listening is something Voice advocates still seem unwilling to try.