There Will Be A Demand For Real Change After The Referendum

An opinion piece published in the Daily Telegraph, October 6, 2023

Anthony Albanese’s only legacy will be overseeing the most divisive referendum in Australian history.

There is no question this vote has been the most divisive ever. The only question is, will the Prime Minister take responsibility for it or will he look for someone to blame?

Will he take responsibility for putting up a detail-less proposal and hoping it would get through on the vibe?

Will he take responsibility for the fearmongering, the “if not now, when?” approach that tried to guilt Australians into voting Yes?

Will he take responsibility for the emotional blackmail, the claims of the “hand of friendship” that has been “offered in love” that Australians wouldn’t refuse?

For all the worn-out talking points and heavy media bias, it is the Yes campaign that has used fear, emotional blackmail, and guilt to try to force the Voice on to Australians.

I am confident Australians have seen through it and will say No.

As we get closer to referendum day, I am increasingly asked “what does October 15 look like? What’s next?”

Since the historic referendum in 1967, our country has continually grown to be more accepting, genuinely harmonious and extraordinarily generous but much of that work has been undone as Australians have been pitted against each other. On October 15, we will need to begin the work to reunite Australia and that will require action from all of us. The past few months have shown me that there is no shortage of goodwill. Australians have displayed an overwhelming desire for more to be done to support and help our most marginalised, no matter their background.

There are many who have believed the lies that this is our last chance to help the most disadvantaged Australians, who wear a guilt they never earned, who feel a pressure they don’t deserve and project that on to other Australians.

Advocates of the Yes campaign have propagated this idea, pitching the Voice as the last hope and anything else just “more of the same”.

We need to be clear to everyone, this Voice is not our last hope.

We need to assure those who passionately advocate for more to be done that more can be done, right now, without the Voice.

The Voice groups Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people together based on nothing more than their heritage but real change comes from focusing on need, not race.

Real change comes from shifting our focus to individuals and the most marginalised communities – no matter the background of the people who live there – rather than creating an entity that couldn’t possibly speak for all Indigenous Australians.

Real change comes from a thorough examination of what we’ve done, ensuring transparency and accountability, finding out where taxpayer money is being used effectively and where it isn’t, and refocusing our efforts on the solutions that are working.

Real change is 11 democratically elected Indigenous members of the federal parliament, ensuring transparency and accountability, holding to account those who have band been entrusted with this work and reallocating resources to where they’re most needed and going to be most effective.

While a Yes vote means gridlock, bureaucracy and enshrined division will forever prevail, a No vote is a demand for something more, something better, a demand for real change.