By David Truman
A Trojan horse for Co-governance!
There is a hidden agenda by the architects of the indigenous Voice to gain power for a select group by a soft coup, not with guns and hard violence, but with rhetoric, bullying and a low-information referendum. It is NOT about reconciliation but about changing our system of government.
Proponents of the Yes case for Constitutional establishment of an indigenous Voice are drawing support from many people motivated by feelgood emotions rather than careful scrutiny of facts and implications. Proponents have tried to stifle debate by implying that those with concerns about this proposal are racists. Voting no is not racist. We are being asked to abandon the great principle of equality of citizenship.
Janet Albrechtsen has done all Australians a service in spelling out powerfully the dangerous implications of the Albanese government’s referendum proposal for an indigenous Voice. In her article in the Weekend Australian of 8 April 2023, she pulls no punches:
The declared aim of the Yes advocates who have led the drafting of the proposal to place the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice in the Constitution is co-government. Co-government is also what the words of the proposed amendment will achieve.
Is this what we would eventually be agreeing to?
The Prime Minister has chosen not only to ignore but to suppress the advice of the Solicitor-General on the legal impact of the proposed, outrageously openended wording.
Professors George Williams and Anne Twomey both say parliament would not be the final arbiter of the voice’s reach. Indeed, the very point of inserting the Voice in the Constitution is to put its activities beyond the parliament.
A huge block to governing the country
The power of the voice to delay executive action by use of its rights to be heard and to litigate will mean every executive body of government must negotiate with the voice on everything it plans to do, in advance, if it is caught in the wide net of ANY “matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”. This creates co-sovereignty between our organs of government on the one hand, and the voice on the other. In fact, the Uluru Statement, on which the Voice proposal is based, explicitly rejects the sole sovereignty of the Australian Crown.
Dangers of co-governance: the New Zealand catastrophe
In New Zealand, co-governance now being imposed under the fraudulent Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 has enabled open slather for plunder of the property of all the people of New Zealand by unrepresentative and corrupt Iwi elites. A book by Christopher Newman, about to be published, exposes the scandal and the destruction of New Zealand’s national unity by poisonous identity politics.
The New Zealand case shows very clearly that Identity Politics doesn’t solve problems but creates permanent rage and dissatisfaction.
Challenge to sovereignty of Parliament
Back in 1993, the High Court of Australia’s Mabo decision clearly rejected “the notion that there resides in the Aboriginal people a limited kind of sovereignty embraced in the notion that they are a ‘domestic dependent nation’ entitled to self-government”. The current Voice proposal seeks shared power that can’t be restrained by the parliament.
That hasn’t stopped Lidia Thorpe, ex-Greens Senator, from vociferously shouting “sovereignty never ceded”, calling the Queen a “colonizer” (in her first speech to the Senate) and staging in-your-face stunts that both amuse and appal most Australians.
Including the power to make representations to “executive government” in the proposed constitutional amendment confers power to delay government decisions – adding black tape to red tape and green tape – paralysis by analysis. Public administrative law will enable any proposed government action to be taken to the High Court – by a Voice which can’t be abolished or overridden by parliament. Australia would become ungovernable. Governments would find themselves making trade-offs, not just with the Opposition and various groupings in the Senate, but with members of the voice.
Anything in the Constitution is justiciable by the High Court. We can expect in future that Labor governments will appoint more “progressive” judges – as they always do. No one can predict what doctrines an activist High Court might dream up in relation to a race-based political institution protected from abolition by the Constitution. Beware!
The Voice would have the right to be given advance notice of matters within the voice’s very wide remit, the right to be given sufficient time, and resources to consider the matter (read: an expensive parallel bureaucracy), and “proper” consideration of any representation it makes.
Putting RACE into the Constitution!
If Albanese’s referendum is passed, this open-ended proposal would create a radically different form of government for the country. DO YOU WANT CO-GOVERNMENT that gives enormous, race-based powers to three per cent of the population? We voted overwhelmingly in 1967 to take race OUT OF the Constitution. Albanese’s current proposal would put it back in!
An associated issue is self-selection to identify as Aboriginal and to vote. There are very many people of mixed Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal blood in Australia. Albanese’s proposal sets up privilege based on ancestry. And how much ancestry? Can any person of just fractional indigenous blood stand for election and vote – like “Pocohontas” Senator Elizabeth Warren in the United States, claiming to be Native Indian with 1/1024 Indian blood! – and benefit from the special privileges that other Australians wouldn’t have?
Practical implications of “Yes” to Albanese’s Voice proposal
Janet Albrechtsen has worked with three of the nation’s most prominent constitutional and administrative lawyers to draft A LETTER THE VOICE COULD SEND ON DAY ONE TO THE HEADS OF GOVERNMENT AGENCIES to demand the rights given to it by the amended Constitution.
Here are some extracts:
- The voice has a constitutional right to make representations about any matters that may relate even indirectly to ATSI people and about matters that affect all Australians.
- In the letter to Treasury, APRA [Australian Prudential Regulation Authority] or the RBA [Reserve Bank of Australia] this will include any change in interest rate policy, bank lending and consumer credit policy or policies concerning regulation of financial services entities.
- In the letter to the Dept of the Environment, it will cover every proposal for development of any mineral, mining or hydrocarbon project, or any dam or other infrastructure.
- In the letter to the Department of Health it will include every proposal to build, replace or renew any health facility, every proposal for expenditure on health policy, and every alteration of health policy.
- The voice will be able to make representations proactively.
- The voice will have its own resources to allow it to research, develop and make representations.
- The parliament and executive government should seek representations in writing from the voice early in the development of proposed laws and policies and to give us advance notice of any proposed decision, evaluation, assessment, expenditure, policy change, or any other matter that may relate to ATSI people.
- You must not implement any such matters unless the voice has been given the time to make proper representations and discuss them with you.
- If you do anything which provides the basis for a constitutional writ under s 75(v) of the Constitution we will not hesitate to commence action in the Federal Court of Australia to invalidate that decision.
- We are establishing a Voice Legal Affairs unit to provide legal advice to staff in your (department/agency/body) so that they may better understand their legal obligations and the broader administrative law implications of our constitutional right to make representations.
The inference any thinking voter should draw from all that is very clear:
Alternative proposed by the Liberal Opposition
Freedom and Heritage notes that the Liberal Opposition has announced a position of support for recognition in the Constitution, and administrative establishment of local Voices, but NOT insertion into the Constitution of a national Voice whose existence and activities are beyond the control of Parliament. This position has the support of many indigenous people.
And the NO case also has the support of the long-term Labor powerbroker and former senior minister, Graham Richardson! As it does the support of another minister from the Keating government, Gary Johns.
The Howard government tried back in the 1990s to include recognition in the Preamble to the Constitution, but did not succeed. The trouble with all such “feelgood” moves, including the Liberal party’s position now, is that tokenistic gestures have no practical effect. Paul Keating’s Redfern speech (1992), and Rudd’s Apology to the “stolen generation” (February 2008), were both feelgood tokenism. Unfortunately, so has been the expenditure of billions and billions of dollars over the past fifty years – supposedly for the benefit of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, but in fact, appropriated by an Aboriginal Industry dominated by urban elites and white advisers.
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, Aboriginal leader and Senator for the Northern Territory, says the focus needs to be on practical forms of help to disadvantaged indigenous people participate in the real economy, and not another institution which like its predecessors will be treated as a gravy grain by corrupt and unrepresentative elites. She is supported by MANY Aborigines who also oppose Albanese’s Voice.
Senator Price supported by 22 indigenous community leaders demanding that the PM and Opposition Leader hear their case in opposition to the voice.
Warren Mundine, an Aboriginal elder and a leader of the No campaign, describes the voice as a “power grab” by “elites and academics” that would not make a difference to the lives of many indigenous people. He has also made it clear in a radio interview that a national Voice CAN’T speak for all indigenous people, because in Aboriginal culture, an Aborigine from one “country” (like #TheirABC’s tiresomely repeated “Gadigal country”) can’t speak for someone from another “country.” The point is, local voices will be far more in touch with the needs and aspirations of real, disadvantaged Aborigines, rather than the privileged and “entitled” urban elites.
The federal Opposition’s policy of administratively establishing LOCAL voices is FAR more attuned to getting genuine movement in “closing the gap” – a professed aspiration of the elites who have achieved NOTHING over the past fifty years. The Whitlam government’s National Aboriginal Consultative Committee (1973-77) was replaced by the National Aboriginal Conference (1977-85), which in turn was scrapped to make way for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (1989-2005). The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (1991-2000), the National Indigenous Council (2005-07), the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (2009-19) and the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council (2013-19) were established with the same objective of allowing Indigenous voices to be heard in the corridors of power. But despite untold billions of taxpayer dollars spent, statistics on education, housing, domestic violence and health remain a national disgrace. SO MUCH for giving indigenous “representation” to the elites of the Aboriginal Industry.
Another point worth considering in the event that the proposed national Voice gets up: what if the members of the Voice are split – on a matter such as the cashless debit card, and what should go in the schools history curriculum?
Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price says the voice is a distraction from the real needs of disadvantaged Aborigines, and also points out that we already have eleven Members of Aboriginal descent in Australia’s Parliament of 227 – well over their proportion of the population.
In her first speech in parliament, Jacinta Price said “The government has yet to demonstrate how this proposed voice will deliver practical outcomes and unite, rather than drive a wedge further between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia . It’s time to stop feeding into a narrative that promotes racial divide and to pay respects to our elders of all backgrounds who came together through hard work to forge an Australia we can all be proud of.”