Australian Liberals Oppose the Voice

Australian Liberals Oppose the Voice. By Greg Sheridan.

Dutton’s position has overwhelming support in the federal Liberal Party. Several backbenchers were in tears in the party room meeting describing their profound commitment to equal citizenship, which the voice contradicts.

If the No vote is successful, the nation will owe Dutton a debt. Whereas if the Yes vote is successful we will institutionalise racial division and rancour, the endlessly escalating demands of identity politics, and extremely ugly ideological enforcement, into our Constitution.

The Liberal Party has huge work ahead in respecting its local branches in preselections, improving its pitch to the aspirations of young people, getting back to coherent economic policy, consciously seeking the support of ethnic communities, radically improving its social media efforts and much else. It would achieve less than nothing by contradicting a basic liberal principle — equal citizenship — in a cowardly effort to appease the zeitgeist.

There are undemocratic elements in the way our public culture operates today. When a cause is declared essential by the woke orthodoxy, institutions run after it almost mindlessly. Some are determined not to look out of date, others to be part of the crowd, some are terrified of non-conformism, some just accept that what is declared to be public virtue must be just that.

There are also many good, conscientious people who think the voice would help Aboriginal Australians and benefit race relations. But every bit of evidence we have internationally tells us the reverse is true. …

The proposed voice is by far the most radical change we’ve considered to the Constitution since World War II. As my colleague Janet Albrechtsen has persuasively argued, it effectively pro­duces at least an arguable model for co-government and indeed co-sovereignty. That’s the ambition of at least some of the Aboriginal leadership class. Why else are we constantly told that sovereignty was never ceded? Issues of sovereignty have been decided by the High Court already. But that’s on the basis of the existing Constitution. A rewritten Constitution may yield entirely different rulings, with who knows what chaotic outcomes. And for what benefit?

The voice is all about power. Identity politics is always about power. No one opposes giving local Aboriginal communities greater say in the policies that affect their communities. There are already a million consultative mechanisms. There’s not a speck of evidence the voice would do any better. But it would enable big power plays on the national stage.

This is entirely undemocratic. It proceeds from the fatally flawed proposition that liberal democracy and the universal franchise are inherently incapable of serving the interests of a particular minority. But if that’s the case for one minority, why not conclude the same for any other minority?

Some Liberals are sucked in by the left’s assumptions:

Former Liberal MP Dave Sharma made a characteristic mistake when he argued last weekend that the Australian people expected his party to contribute to the nation coming to an “enduring settlement with Indigenous Australians”.

That’s a ghastly way to talk about our democracy, as though Australia and our Indigenous people are separate entities. Democracies don’t have lasting settlements among their various ethnic groups. They have citizens, individual human beings, who have equal rights in the endless political debate about good policy and purposes.

They say a referendum without bipartisan support never succeeds. But in these days of the left’s overwhelming political dominance in the media, bureaucracy, and academia, perhaps the Voice referendum will win.