An opinion piece published in the Daily Telegraph, August 30, 2023
For a referendum to succeed, it needs a majority of votes and a majority of states but, for a constitutional amendment to be successful, it needs to work for all Australians.
Over the last year the polls have been clear about just one thing: Australians are completely divided on the Voice.
A constitutional change needs to reflect a unified national consensus, one we can all get behind to change our country for the better but, from the start, this proposal has been nothing but divisive.
It has divided legal experts across the country on the risks involved in such a massive change.
It has divided lawmakers about its potential impacts and slowing of government business.
But, most significantly, it has divided everyday Australians who just want us all to be equal.
Today the Prime Minister announced the date of this referendum and began what I believe will be the most divisive referendum this country has ever seen.
Australians will be emotionally blackmailed and bullied into voting on a bad proposition while being told it’s the only way to help Indigenous Australians.
That is the lie at the heart of this referendum and one the Prime Minister perpetuates.
There is nothing stopping governments consulting with Indigenous communities now. In fact, the consultation with land councils, the NIAA, the Coalition of Peaks and any number of other government funded Indigenous organisations is endless.
Most shamefully, there is nothing stopping them from legislating the Voice right now to demonstrate how it would work before asking Australians to cement it in the Constitution forever.
This proposal is not simple or modest, as its backers insist, and it certainly doesn’t come from all Indigenous Australians. This proposal is a trojan horse.
Though he might run from it now, the Prime Minister’s t-shirt assures us that after the Voice would come Treaty and Truth.
A Makarrata commission, a word which literally means a spear in the leg, presenting yourself for punishment after wrongdoing, will “supervise a process of agreement making,” which Minister Linda Burney says is “code for Treaty”.
Treaty and so-called “truth-telling” will be used to amplify the calls for reparations and “paying the rent” and Indigenous Sovereignty that we already hear.
This is the hidden cost of the Voice, one which can only further divide us.
This fight is far from over and those of us who want to see Australia remain united cannot become complacent. When the Prime Minister announces the date, he will kick-off an onslaught of corporate-backed advertising and campaigning that will saturate the nation.
Why don’t they take their tens of millions of dollars in corporation donations and do something that won’t divide us by race?
Why do they ignore real solutions desperately needed to help our most marginalised Australians?
Instead, the Yes campaign will try to buy this referendum by selling a vibe, some good feelings and a promise they know they can never fulfil. We’re in this fight against those who are working to divide us, who want to “tear down our institutions” and make us pay with reparations and compensation for ‘historical wrongs’.
It’s a fight not simply about stopping a bad amendment but keeping us together, not divided.
This is a fight for the heart of Australia and it’s only just getting started.
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