The Voice tragedy forces choice between goodwill to Indigenous people and a Trojan horse in the heart of our Constitution. By Tony Abbott.
All of us want to close the outcomes gap between the First Australians and everyone else; and almost all of us are happy to see Indigenous people recognised in the Constitution. …
But the challenge is to find a way of doing this that doesn’t divide Australians by race and end up making an unsatisfactory situation worse.
And the risk is that an abundance of goodwill might lead voters to support a change that turns out to be much more than they thought.
There are much more straightforward ways to recognise Indigenous people in the Constitution than via a voice. One would be to insert into the preamble, right after “ … one, indissoluble federal commonwealth” and before “under the crown … ”, these new words: “with an Indigenous heritage, a British foundation and an immigrant character”.
The advantage of doing this would be that it’s indisputably true, has something for everyone, and would become a good one-line description for the country we love.
Another would be to insert an acknowledgment into the Constitution that the continent and islands now known as Australia were first occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, using the words of the Recognition Act of 2013 that the parliament passed without dissent. …
Let’s be clear that it’s no longer just constitutional recognition that many Indigenous leaders now want and that the government is proposing to give. They’re seeking a mechanism to overcome, in Senator Pat Dodson’s words, “the tyranny of our dispossession”, as if history can be undone. …
By so irrevocably committing the government to the maximalist Indigenous agenda, albeit with the best of intentions, the PM has set us up for tragedy.
Instead of sticking to the achievement of constitutional recognition (as is all but universally supported); and instead of implementing the voice through legislation (to be adjusted or even ended as needed, as other Indigenous bodies have been), he is forcing us to choose between our goodwill for Indigenous people and our wariness towards a Trojan horse in the heart of our Constitution.
The referendum will fail, and then there will be an almighty tantrum from the aboriginal activist industry (can we call them “Big Aborigine”, a la Big Pharma, Big Green, Big Banks, etc?) because Australia has disrespected them. Cries of racist will descend upon us from the ruling class. Can’t imagine what we’ll be feeling.