Andrew L. Urban
No, no, no! It’s not the lack of detail nor the promise of its permanence in the constitution, nor that it is the path to treaty and to the fight for reparations. It is that it is a bellicose insult on its face. The mere idea and pursuit of the Voice ruptures the bond that has strengthened between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians that was so vividly demonstrated in the result of the 1967 referendum.
The proposal itself smears Australians as uncaring bigots. And that’s before anyone says so. It has the appearance of being based on the false premise that Australia has until now failed to take note and acknowledge the needs of the vulnerable elements of the indigenous community. There is simply no evidence of that. On the contrary.
Enormous and sincere effort has been made by contemporary Australian society to apologise and atone for the rough-edged sins of the past and ensure everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
Australians know that. There are no corners of society, government, the law or institutions where Aborigines are discriminated AGAINST. There is no greater social taboo than to be perceived as insensitive to Aboriginal culture, history and needs. The realisation of being egregiously defamed is eroding support for the Voice.
I can’t help but think of the words of Hanna Arendt: “In the case of the worst historical wrongs the victims and perpetrators die out–the one who gave offence and the person to whom offence was done. Some descendants may remember for a time. But as the insult and grievance fade from generation to generation those who hold on to this grievance are often regarded as displaying not sensitivity or honour but belligerence.”
Sky News’ Matt Cunningham put together a fine documentary for Tuesday night (July 25), probing the question from both sides; Yes / No. But what has always been elusive in the debate is the ground zero question: what is the premise on which the referendum is based? Not even Sky’s documentary could pose that question or answer it, all good intentions notwithstanding. Because it is preposterous to contemplate.
Some felt this insult instinctively. Others are realising it as the campaign goes on and their consciousness is raised.
The really sad result is that resentment feeds on this misplaced, belligerent activism. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s evident emotional investment in the Voice gives political cover to the activists who glow with the radiation of ‘blak’ power – and that is not in the interests of the majority of indigenous Australians. As Matt Cunningham showed, blackfellas removed from the cities and from the politicking do not sympathise with or even hear the Voice.
But the supreme irony for me is Noel Pearson’s sage and practical desire to focus on education and jobs as a way of closing the gap and improving lives, offering a future for the young. Sounds a lot like Warren Mundine and Jacinta Nampijinpa Price talking. Maybe together they could convince the Minister for Indigenous Australians to do something positive and help enable those goals. In those ambitions, Australia is already united. To these voices we all say yes.