OPINION: Why the Indigenous Voice to Parliament matters

DEAR News Of The Area,

MANY questions have been raised regarding the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

‘Don’t we already have enough Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations?’ is a common one.

It is true that there are already many Indigenous organisations but Indigenous people are saying that they feel that they are not being listened to and that instead solutions to problems are being imposed on them.

Indeed, the Uluru Statement from the Heart uses the words “the torment of our powerlessness.”

The Uluru Statement proposes an ongoing Voice to parliament as the way to ensure that Indigenous voices are heard in matters that concern them so that they may have some control over their destiny.

Another common question is ‘Isn’t it better to have more Indigenous members of Parliament?’

We currently have eleven Indigenous members of Federal Parliament, which is excellent in regard to diversity.

As members of parliament they are not elected to represent Indigenous peoples; they are elected to represent all the people of their electorate.

At any future election they could well lose their seat to a non-Indigenous person.

The current eleven Indigenous persons in parliament could even dwindle to zero.

A Voice to Parliament would directly and continuously express the specific issues and concerns of Indigenous people.

It is often asserted that Indigenous peoples are not in agreement and that the Voice is not of grassroots Indigenous origin but rather comes only from elite Indigenous people.

It is true that Indigenous people do not all agree on the Voice.

It would be surprising if they did.

However, there is a large and widespread consensus in favour of the proposal.

There has been broad consultation of Indigenous people at the grassroots level leading to a consensus and the Uluru Statement from the Heart is the culmination of this process.

That this process has been followed is one of the strengths of the Voice proposal.

It cannot be said that the Voice is driven by elites or political groups.

The Voice has not emerged as part of the agenda of a particular group or as an idea from a particular political party.

It has emerged as an expression of the wishes of Indigenous peoples and the referendum is in response to their request in the Uluru Statement from the Heart for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

Our Prime Minister described it as a “gracious, patient call for respect and truth and unity”.

John GRAY,
Coffs Harbour.

One thought on “OPINION: Why the Indigenous Voice to Parliament matters

  1. Week one and the ‘yes’ campaign is off to a rocky start.
    Marcia Langton, high-profile activist and boss of the committee that invented the Voice, accidentally let slip the part they’ve all worked so hard to keep hidden.
    They want the Voice to have the right to take the government to the High Court of Australia if it’s not listened to.
    Get a load of this as reported by the Fair Australia campaign:
    Langton was asked if she thought there were legitimate concerns that if the government made a decision without listening to the Voice, it “could be challenged in the High Court and potentially stopped from being implemented until the Voice had been heard”.
    Langton’s response?
    “That’s a possibility. And why wouldn’t we want that to be the case,” she said.
    “The Voice has to be able to give advice. If nothing that the Voice says is subject to the ordinary laws of Australia, in other words, it’s completely gutted and has no safe standing, if you like, then the government can ignore all of the Voice’s decisions with impunity.”
    She said the quiet part out loud.
    They don’t want the Voice to be just another “advisory body”.
    It won’t be just another symbolic, “modest” gesture to give Indigenous Australians a Voice.
    Make no mistake about what this is, it’s a dangerous threat designed to undermine your democracy.
    It’s an exclusive, race-based body holding the government ransom as it says “listen to us … or we’ll see you in court”.
    It’s another Canberra gravy train for activist elites like Langton, with a huge cost to the Australian taxpayer.
    A Voice to Parliament with teeth, capable of bringing government to a standstill if it doesn’t get its way.
    “And why wouldn’t we want that to be the case?” says Langton.
    This isn’t modest, symbolic or right.
    It’s dangerous, divisive and expensive.
    It’s not fair, it’s not Australian, it’s not on.
    It’s a ‘NO!’ from me.

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