In which a conservative commentator is temporarily confused abut the Voice and racism. Chris Kenny writes:
In the interests of helping with useful detail, as a former member of the Morrison government’s Indigenous voice co-design senior working group, let me try to answer some of the questions. …
Some attacks on the voice are little more than red herrings designed to generate fear. It is clearly and demonstrably wrong, for instance, to claim a voice would be a third chamber, would exercise a veto over government decisions or could free-range across all government decisions.
It is also wrong to claim this is a racial or racist measure — it proposes a representative body for Indigenous people not based on racial characteristics but on the simple reality that they are the descendants of the original inhabitants. Nor does it confer special privilege; it allocates only an opportunity to offer advice on matters affecting Indigenous people.
It does not insert race into the Constitution.
Kenny is usually fairly clear headed, but he’s been seduced by the bureaucracy on this one. (How often does “seduced” and bureaucracy” appear in the same sentence? Not often enough.) They made him feel important by putting him on a “working group”, perhaps with an allowance, and all he had to do to belong is to go along with the fiction that the Voice is not racist because <insert pathetic excuse here>. What the bureaucracy were really doing was buying off a leading commentator in the newspaper most likely to rally public opinion against the Voice.
Racism is where you treat people differently on the basis of their race.
Using a proxy for race, such as “descended from people living in Australia before 1788” does not change the discrimination one bit. You are still discriminating by race.
Would the South African apartheid regime have been excused by the rest of the world if they had merely explained that they were in fact not treating people differently on the basis of race, but on the basis of whether their ancestors had lived in southern Africa before 1500? Or arrived from India in the last 200 years?
Could the Klu Klux Klan be morally rehabilitated by explaining that it does not discriminate against black people, oh no, but against people recently descended from slaves?
I don’t think so.
And the rest of the world will know perfectly well that Australians have created a racist system with the Voice, even if Chris Kenny thinks he has found the perfect excuse.