OPINION: Voice debate highlights inability to deal with our past

DEAR News Of The Area,

IN a recent interview on a conservative media platform ex PM John Howard made the observation that in Australia there is a “deep deposit of Celtic skepticism”.

He was speaking in relation to the upcoming referendum and referring to the wider electorate’s suspicion of the Voice proposal.

It includes a healthy fear of change and is often justified with the “If it ain’t broke … then don’t fix it’ position.

Of course it’s an easy position for those doing alright or unable or unwilling to imagine a different world.

Despite those who discount the significance of history or the poor overall state of the Aboriginal nation, the uncomfortable accounts of our First Nations treatment under our Celtic forebears makes it pretty obvious that this attitude is not new.

In fact there has been a historic reluctance to accept that Aboriginal Australians deserve anything more than they now have.

The Celtic tribes well knew the adage, ‘To the victor go the spoils’!

Likewise, the ‘Celtic’ in John Howard never really accepted the legitimacy of Mabo, refused to apologise, and still refuses to acknowledge the Sovereignty of Aboriginals which would be a precursor to a formal Treaty.

It is a glaring contradiction that he was happy to acknowledge the Sovereignty of the Timor-Leste people and send in our troops to support their self-determination election result in 1999, although there were of course ‘strategic’ reasons.

This referendum is a one-off.

There is no plan B, and a NO as predicted, will scuttle hopes of national Aboriginal reconciliation for a long time; certainly by a national referendum.

While the Voice proposal may have been naïve, it was never intended to be deceptive or divisive as critics make out.

It has been at best an opportunity to imagine a different and potentially better Australia.

History has also sadly shown however that we have always struggled to have an adult conversation around race (and immigration for that matter) without ugly coming to the fore.

Our resilient Aboriginals will no doubt dust themselves off as they have always done and show that quiet resilience and dignity which has sustained them for the last 60,000 years.

Meanwhile, many outsiders will still view us as unable to deal with our past.

Dave WOOD,
Boambee East.

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