When I was an MP, ‘details’ was my middle name. Whenever we had a brain-snap about the latest way to reform the world, I asked for details. Why? Because every time you got the details on how the latest rat -bag scheme would work, it turned out that it was different from everything originally proposed.
First, everyone got mesmerized by privacy, so we had to have a privacy act, but the detail showed that it did not give you any privacy and actually took it away. Then, we had to have a freedom of information act, but when you got the details, you found it should have been named the freedom “from” information act, because it prevented you from getting any information. Then we got the smorgasbord reform with the Human Rights Acts, but the details showed that they took away your rights to free speech, assembly, religion and pride in your own race, history and culture and set up a vast bureaucracy to stop you acting and talking like a normal human being.
So, when governments come up with ideas like the aboriginal Voice, I ask for the details. When we get the details, we will see that the Voice will not usher in the nirvana we have been promised. The so-called detail we got from Albanese at the weekend is not detail that explains to people what they are letting themselves in for by voting for this proposal. It is a giant confidence trick. It tricks you into voting Yes and, once the politicians have got you in, they will give you the Voice they want, not the one you thought you voted for. The only way of avoiding this is the honest way. First, give us the real detail in an accompanying statement that is linked to the referendum question and made part of the vote, and before the vote takes place. Secondly, put a clause in, as some of us did with the Flags Act, that the detail of the Voice can be changed only by a majority of voters in a majority of States. So, my advice is, ask for the details and keep asking for them.
The pushback against giving enough detail to enable people to make an informed vote at the referendum is taking two forms. The first is the approach by the head of the government’s expert panel on the Voice, Mark Leibler. He is pretty close to the mark when he says that if people are given details of the Voice, they will not vote for it, because the details will make the whole project unacceptable. Keep the details secret, he says.
Then there is the other approach, that you have already been given the details or all of the detail that you need or deserve, so don’t ask for anymore. This is the one that is involved in Albanese’s weekend confidence trick: come into the spider’s web and we’ll bite you later. The only way to handle this one is to reject it and threaten to vote No unless the detail is provided in the honest way I outlined above.
In the meantime, here is my assessment of the current state of play on some of the major issues.
First, we are told that the Voice can only give advice but will not legislate. Therefore, the parliament will remain supreme. This is nonsense. If the advice is accepted, the Voice will clearly have legislated because its advice will be put into practice, i.e., legislation. If the advice is rejected and the government will not do what the Voice wants to be done, no-one should be so naïve as to think that the advice will then simply be withdrawn in a co-operative spirit. It will lead to a tsunami of litigation. I can already hear a bevy of unelected judges saying: ‘But this advice came from a body that is in the constitution. We must accept what they say. We will reverse the government decision’. So, the Voice is worse than a second chamber of the parliament; it is an entire second parliament potentially in league with unelected judges who will do its bidding after considering all the vibes, visions and implied terms they are so skilled at finding.
Second, we are told the Voice is not racist. This is also nonsense. If members of only one race are eligible to be on the electoral roll; if members of only one race can be elected; if members of only one race will pre-select candidates for election, and if the only people who can give and benefit from the advice are of the one race, then the body itself is racist. Putting the Voice in the constitution is as racist as the entrenched race provisions of the old South African constitution.
Third, the Voice will engender its own racism. The whole proposal is part of the denigration of non-aboriginals that is now well underway, part of the generation of hostility to our traditions, culture, and history. Non-Aboriginals will eventually react to what they see as favouritism, bias, and excessive government spending on Aboriginals.
Fourth, the signs are that the Liberal party has sold out on the Voice. The statements by Julian Leeser, the Liberal spokesman, make this clear. This should not surprise anyone, as the kick-start to this proposal came when Morrisson and Frydenberg foolishly handed out millions of dollars for the so-called ‘design’ of the Voice which built up a head of steam. Peter Dutton should sack Leeser before he commits the Liberal party any further. But get ready for another Liberal capitulation.
Fifth, it follows that the main opposition to the Voice will have to be found not in the Liberal party, which has learnt nothing from its dalliance with left wing causes, but from outside.
Sixth, everyone has a Voice to parliament. They are called MPs. We do not need a new, expensive structure that duplicates our whole structure of government. Get onto your local MP – and demand some answers.
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