I have thought long and hard about writing this blog about The Voice referendum on October 14th, 2023. I know that if we look at the polls there are 57% of my readers who potentially will be annoyed that I am writing a blog putting my thoughts into words as to the benefits and consequences of simply voting Yes on October 14th.
But I am old (and sometimes I like to think wise) enough to say – this matters to me, and when I am even older and in the nursing home and if I am reading back on my life through my blog, I want to be able to feel that I tried to put out a dialogue of why this matters to me and why I think we should support the Yes vote on October14.
I want to feel like I tried to be on the right side of history. I want to be sure that I have reminded everyone:
Think about this: When you look in the mirror on October 15th, make sure you are not saying to yourself – Why did I feel so worried about something I don’t really understand? Why did I Vote No…..Oh my goodness, I have Voter Regret!
There are millions of people in the UK who have Voter Regret right now about the Brexit situation there.
The best public relations campaign (and a lot of fear mongering) won the Brexit argument. There were many lies propagated (eg the situation with the NHS) and as soon as the vote was proclaimed, the noisiest leader of the Leave campaign, Nigel Farage resigned – he immediately walked away. Damage done. Ask the British people what they wish for now.
I fear that the same is going to happen here. The No campaign has three prominant First Nations leaders who are articulating their case well. There is strong relatively silent backing from some stakeholders who want to see this referendum fail. (Gina Reinhart and Lachlan Murdoch are just two billionaires who would like to see the Yes Vote fail). The mainstream media (MSM) love conflict and mayhem and are actively and loudly pushing this position. Many of the arguments that are being put forward involve danger and fear messages.
The Yes Vote campaign has pledged to remain positive with its messaging and not combatitive in its arguments, so they don’t yell and scream ‘Lies’ when bad things are said about the motives of The Voice or their words are twisted by the media and politicians. They remain polite and try to continue to send positive messaging (while I am screaming at the television and using loud profanities).
Unfortunately it looks like the Fear and Danger messages are winning.
This blog is my attempt to present an argument for Yes and to release some frustration and sadness about what I am feeling.
Let’s think about our every day lives. You are doing a breast check in the shower. There’s a new lump. That’s a scary finding. If we follow the logic of the No campaign (and our alternate Prime Minister Peter Dutton: If you don’t know, Vote No!), we should answer No to the question: “Should I make an appointment to see my GP or a specialist? If I go to the doctor I might end up with a mastectomy and I couldn’t cope with that, my husband loves my breasts and he may not cope – so I will ignore that lump”.
Similarly with a mole on your leg/face/vulva. “What if it’s a melanoma – that’s scary and dangerous. I’ve read about it on the internet. I might need chemo or radiation. I’ve read about all the horrible side effects of those treatments”. So using the logic of If you don’t know Vote No – I best ignore it and get on with life hoping it will just go away and cross my fingers that it isn’t actually cancerous or dangerous.
I mean – What The??? There are millions of examples of why that sort of thinking is a nonsense.
If you don’t know – talk to someone who does. Search the internet for the information on why it might help our First Nations people and what are the real consequences.
But….also if you actually Couldn’t care less…..Vote Yes.
This was coined by Helen Haines (Independent Member for Indi) and I did a little Canva graphic – see the image at the top of the blog. There are millions of Australians who couldn’t care less … and that’s OK. I understand that we all have issues that are much more important to your life such as some family members’ health, paying for your car/house insurance bill that has just exploded in your letter box (WTF is going on with the cost of ALL insurance???), the cost of fruit and veggies or just having fun and living your best life. And there is genuinely NO JUDGEMENT about that last statement. Good on you for being able to/wanting to do just that!
Uluru Statement from the Heart 2017
But 80% of aboriginal people do care. They have worked on this for decades. They came together at Uluru in 2017 and created The Uluru Statement from the Heart. I still remember the crushing chest pain I had on the day Malcolm Turnbull rejected acting on this. Imagine how the indigenous people who worked on it felt?
Indigenous Recognition in the Australian Constitution and The Voice are important to our current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. He said it with emotion on election night that this was a goal of his and he has brought it to the Australian people in the form of this referendum. The majority of our First Nations people embraced this with joy 12 months ago. They must now feel completely exhausted and depleted with all the talk they have to do and the negativity they have to listen to. I know I do – but how can I even know anything?
The architects of the Uluru Statement from the Heart hope that The Voice and Recognition in the Australian Constitution will change their lives for the better. An example is in the health sphere. Noel Pearson talks about the fact that two (2) aboriginal people die each week from rheumatic fever – a disease that is completely eradicated from every where else in Australia and the world. Saying Yes would allow indigenous communities to properly articulate their needs to the parliament and get effective action.
I am no expert on aboriginal affairs. I do understand why it must be difficult to trust government and authorities when you have had centuries of government officials messing with your lives. And for that reason I know many First Nations people are voting No. I also know I do not understand everything (or maybe much at all) about indigenous culture or laws and I may be doing a crap job at even writing these words. How can I articulate or speak for our First Nations people without living their life, walking in their shoes or being aboriginal?
I can’t. All I can be is the best ally I can be. And being an ally means that I mostly listen and try and learn.
It is complex when there are aboriginal people who have opposing opinions. Some believe every aboriginal person should think the same. That is ignoring the fact that we are all humans who have different beliefs that are shaped by many experiences, life events and political influences. So just as the rest of the 97% of Australia’s population have different thoughts on the pros and cons of The Voice argument, our First Nations people who make up 3% of the population are entitled to as well.
But last night I watched Noel Pearson’s address to the Press Club and I was moved to take a position out loud on my blog. If you follow me on social media there is no question you know I will be Voting Yes on October14, but many of my readers are not on social media and so I wanted to do my part in presenting a case to those readers who may have decided to Vote No or those who haven’t decided yet, as to why it may be worthy of another contemplation and considering Voting Yes.
I am embedding Noel Pearson’s speech in here. It takes 30 minutes to listen to his speech (a magnificent, moving speech) and 30 minutes of questions from journalists. Listening to anything for 30 minutes that isn’t your favourite bingeable Netflix episode is asking a lot these days. That is a long time in our current life to be pausing and taking time out for this issue (which you may not really care about). But I do hope you may try, grab a cuppa and listening to the questions as well may answer some of the questions you may have also.
Voting Yes for the Voice will not affect 97% of the population. Nothing will change in your life. Do not be afraid. Our First Nations people – just 3% of our population are relying on the goodwill of the Australian people to get a Voice to Parliament for issues that directly affect them – their health, their culture, their language, their homeland and country- and to be finally recognised in the Australian Constitution. If your favourite AFL or NRL player is Indigenous, if you love your Indigenous art think about the fact that we are ignoring their very presence in our Constitution.
What does that say about us as a country?
Well we will know exactly that on October15th. We will know exactly where Australia stands as a country and its view of itself in 2023. I hope we see ourselves as a modern progressive country who cares about all of its citizens.