There has never been a political alignment like this

There has never been a political alignment like this. By Paul Kelly.

In post-war Australia there has rarely, if ever, been a political alignment like this. Our elites have come together — political, corporate, financial, university, media, sporting, trade union and religious — to persuade and intimidate the Australian people to put an Indigenous voice to parliament into the Constitution. …

Going for broke:

In an impassioned and defiant speech this week Anthony Albanese has dismissed any further modifications to the constitutional amendment to arrest the decline in the Yes vote though most polls still have the Yes case in front. The Prime Minister is convinced the tide of history is with him and that Australia will empower Indigenous people in a vote that is about “recognition and listening”.

An architect of the voice, Noel Pearson, has made clear the Indigenous leaders behind the concept will accept no retreat — and Albanese cannot promote a referendum the Indigenous leaders won’t endorse. In effect, he seems to be an enthusiastic political hostage, passionately embracing his mission.

No reviews, no due diligence, no trial:

The majority report of the parliamentary committee with its absurdly inadequate six-week review of the proposed referendum found “no basis” for concerns. The dissenting report from Liberal MPs recommended radical surgery on the bill, warning its “uncertainty and risk” — including the risk that government could become “unworkable” — constitute permanent dangers if the referendum is adopted unamended. …

The elites are deceiving the rest of us:

The nation confronts an unparalleled contest between an alliance of elites and a public that is wary and suspicious, increasingly resentful of the pressure to do the “polite” thing.

Many Australians see the Yes campaign as well-intentioned deception. They feel they are not being levelled with but patronised, their goodwill exploited. The more the Yes campaign is scrutinised, the more the scale of serial deception is apparent.

This is a government that refused to convene a constitutional convention, refused to authorise a full-scale parliamentary assessment at the outset, made no early effort to achieve bipartisanship, declined to legislate the voice first to test its viability and decided the details of the voice would be released after the referendum, not before.

We will reject it:

There have been 44 referendums since Federation. Labor has sponsored 25, for one success. Albanese with the voice has broken every rule in the book about winning referendums in the belief Australia has changed fundamentally and that past norms are obsolete. If the referendum fails it will be Albanese’s responsibility given the astonishing and dogmatic tactics he has pursued. …

Father Frank Brennan … said a decisive test was whether it united Australians. We know the answer. The polls, the policy and legal disputes, the formal opposition of the Liberal and National parties show the voice singularly fails that test. This is a deeply divisive proposal.

Reconciliation cannot be achieved by division. It cannot be achieved by Labor demanding people fall into line. It cannot be achieved by elites, assuming their superior morality, lecturing the people about how their country must be changed in perpetuity – that is the guaranteed path to backlash. Yet it is now rife throughout Australia.

The 2018 Dodson-Leeser jointly chaired parliamentary committee reported “no fewer than 18 different constitutional amendment” variations, but Labor is putting a radical model of the voice that divides the nation on principle, morality and equality. In his Thursday speech on the referendum bill Albanese was aggressive and political, with any hope of a shared approach now long gone and the country heading into a destructive struggle over a fundamental change to its Constitution. …

Competitive virtue signaling among the elite — leaves just emotion:

It is a mistake for the country to make such a defining constitutional change – probably the most far-reaching in our history – on emotion. The vibe is designed to deceive and dodge the pivotal question: what is the meaning of the power being created? This is the issue.

The heart of this proposal ties recognition and the voice together. Recognition could be achieved in many ways. But it is the voice that matters in this referendum. Most opponents of the referendum support recognition but they cannot support the voice.

Elites abandon colorblindness for racial discrimination:

The notion of an equal citizenship is terminated. This is the consequence of implanting in the Constitution a group rights body that represents one group of Australians for the specific purpose of giving this body unique access to advise, influence and determine public policy across the board. …

The Yes advocates dismiss the idea of the voice as institutional separation based on race. Highly respected legal figures French and Geoffrey Lindell in their joint submission say “the voice is not about race” but “about our First Peoples as the Indigenous people of Australia”. It is a critical distinction but unpersuasive for most people. …

Sigh. You’re not fooling anyone. It’s racist.

It’s also about more power for the elites, undermining democracy further. The elite will control the Voice, which will undermine or override the will of the rest of us:

Don’t be fooled by constant assurances, reminiscent of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, that there’s nothing to see here. There’s everything to see. The voice is about power. Only one thing counts: the words of the amendment and the powers being created.

Pivotal to this issue is the determination of the Yes camp that the voice exists in perpetuity. This is not a ministerial decision that can be made and unmade at the stroke of a pen, not about a law that can be modified or repealed, not about voting for Liberal or Labor for a parliamentary term. It’s entirely different — it’s forever. Cross this constitutional threshold and there’s no return.

If it’s to rectify disadvantage it should be temporary since we assume the gap will be eventually closed. The implication is apparent: the First Nations people have a sovereign right to a voice and the voice is the first stage leading to a treaty and truth-telling that will raise questions about sovereignty. …

The media is part of the elite, so any speech contrary to the Voice is ignored in public, as if it was never spoken. Same old tactics as every other recent issue.

Sadly, much of the discussion about the voice is conducted in a fog of utopian unreality generated by a media that prefers not to ventilate a robust, open-ended discussion. …

As Albanese once conceded, when the voice takes a strong stand it will be difficult for government to resist it. Just imagine the coverage the ABC would provide when the voice challenges the government or parliament? The voice will be a new arm in our governance system. The upshot is that Australians will have different democratic rights based on race and ancestry.

Looking forward to the tears and insults from the elite when this loses. Especially Noel Pearson’s.