Monday, July 15, 2024

Response to the Referendum Result

The Voice Referendum Result

In response to the Referendum result on whether or not Australia should recognise Aboriginal peoples in the Constitution through a Voice to Parliament, we express our profound disappointment and sadness that it did not succeed.

That it was defeated by 60% of the population voting NO is devastating. As confronting and and unpleasant as it may appear to be, it is not overstating the result to report the fact that 60% of the population voted WITH Nazis, who also voted NO. Anyone paying attention to the lead up to the Referendum would have seen them come out against the the Voice. While most of the NO voters wouldn’t even realise this fact, it is still a fact, however unpalatable. The Voice Referendum result is devastating for the future of our country.

Why?

“…the Uluru Statement from the Heart was a staggeringly generous offer from Indigenous Australians, the easiest of olive branches to clasp, moral and justifiable legally, economically, philosophically; a course of action with precisely fuck all negative consequences…”

– David Milner, The Shot


The Yes Campaign was characterised by positivity and kind words. When Indigenous campaign leaders pointed out racist comments, they were called racists themselves via a massive media pile-on. Still they kept on, with their message of positivity and hope.

Lies & Disinformation

The No Campaign was characterised by lies and disinformation, some of it fed via right wing channels from the USA. The Leaders of the No Campaign repeatedly lied. The worst of these lies was that Aboriginal peoples in remote communities did not want a Voice to Parliament. The voting results proved this to be a lie. Almost all remote communities, with many people enrolling to vote for the first time in their lives, which they did in record numbers, overwhelmingly voted YES. In some remote communities the vote was as high as 93%. These figures came from Antony Green, the ABC’s election expert.

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The biggest lie was that the Voice would CREATE Division on the basis of RACE, by inserting race into the Constitution. Gaslighting at its best, this lie told Australians that the Voice would give special rights to Aboriginal peoples who would then be able to take back their land. Such scare tactics and appeals to base instincts worked. We saw our personal social media accounts in support of the Voice attacked by some of the vilest, racist comments we have ever experienced, having to block up to 50 such accounts per day from our feeds. Our personal experience is that the No Campaign emboldened people with racist views and anonymous accounts, some not anonymous, to share their anti-social views.

Constitutional “Experts” on Division

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The fact is that the vast majority of Australians do not even know what the Constitution contains, much less what it is for. If they did, they would know that race already exists in the Constitution, and that the race power has only ever been used in relation to Aboriginal peoples. They would know that the Constitution was written by only white men who specifically excluded Indigenous peoples from it. The sudden rush of legal Constitutional “experts” with an opinion on the Constitution, who obviously had not the slightest idea of what the Constitution does or says, was like a massive tidal wave rushing over mainstream and social media, awash with the false slogan ‘NO to division’.

Division

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The country is already divided. Very few non-Indigenous people have visited remote communities, completely separated from the rest of the country by distance and disadvantage. Many from those communities have never ventured outside them.

The disadvantage we speak of includes those communities having the highest rates of infant mortality in the world; the highest rates of imprisonment in the world; highest suicide rates in the country; the shortest life expectancy, poorest health, education, housing and employment in the country. This should not be normalised. It is not normal for non-Indigenous Australians and it should not be normal for Indigenous peoples. That life can be experienced so differently for Aboriginal peoples compared with the rest of the Australian population means we ARE divided. There is a clear divide in all these quality of life measurements, and the Voice sought to reduce this divide and close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The Voice to Parliament would have helped redress this division and the utter powerlessness of Indigenous peoples that has been caused through structural racism (where legislation, policies and institutions are designed for non-indigenous peoples). It would have let Aboriginal peoples have a say in decisions that affect ONLY them. It would have established an advisory committee, elected to represent Aboriginal peoples to the Government of the day about what would work best in policy and implementation. This would have helped address extreme disadvantage. The committee could take any form the Parliament of the day would give it. It could be changed, improved, replaced, but there should always be one, recognising the special place Aboriginal peoples hold in the history of this country.

Changing the Constitution

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The only way to change the Constitution is by a Referendum. Sadly, that meant that 97% of the country would be deciding on whether or not they would recognise Aboriginal peoples – 3% of our population – through a Voice to Parliament. This is inherently racist and yet it was the only way to make a permanent change. The reason for such permanence was to prevent erasure of such advisory bodies on the whim of the prevailing Government, which has happened in the past. We have already seen how shaky a legislated (rather than Constitutionally enshrined Voice) can be.

The Leader of the Opposition has already inadvertently reminded us why it was important to enshrine such a Voice in the Constitution and not to rely on legislation. Prior to the Referendum, the alternative Prime Minister had announced that should the Referendum not succeed, if elected he would hold a second Referendum that would symbolically recognise Aboriginal peoples in the Constitution. Almost immediately after the Voice Referendum result, he announced that he had changed his mind.

Who Cares?

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Ultimately, with so much disinformation perpetrated through both mainstream and social media, it is sad for us to see the complete lack of interest by 60% of the population in knowing that Australia has always been a divided country, where those living in remote communities experience extreme disadvantage much like the townships of South Africa. For those who had never given Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander disadvantage a thought, who are primarily focussed on the quickly rising cost of living, or their latest fashion purchase, who simply wrote “No” on their ballot paper and then moved on with their lives, they gave not a thought to the impact this would make to the future of Aboriginal peoples. Of equal importance, they never gave a thought to the far-reaching possibility of moving forward together: a tremendous step forward for UNITY and the future of this country.

And move on they have. Social media feeds continued without pause, posting people “celebrating” minor events in their lives with not the slightest idea of the devastation the Referendum results have brought to Indigenous people and their communities. The mainstream media has moved on, while the most marginalised peoples in this country now live with the added burden that the rest of the country are simply not interested in them, happy to continue with the status quo of division.

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What do they tell their children?

Indigenous peoples have survived a bloody and genocidal experience since colonisation. Yet the referendum was not about that. It was about going forward together and giving HOPE.

Their simple, humble and gracious request to be seen and be given a powerless committee through which they might be heard was met with conspiracy theories about what they “really” wanted, the next cunning step in their grab to get back their land, and the ridiculous idea that the most marginalised peoples in the world would somehow have more rights than anyone else.

“…the Uluru Statement from the Heart was a staggeringly generous offer from Indigenous Australians, the easiest of olive branches to clasp, moral and justifiable legally, economically, philosophically; a course of action with precisely fuck all negative consequences for anyone except mining companies and the sick fucks that still get a kick out of Indigenous subjugation.” – David Milner, The Shot

Our hearts go out to the Aboriginal peoples of this country.





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