Veteran broadcaster, seasoned journalist, and five-time Gold Logie winner Ray Martin, I have concluded, has spoken an uncomfortable truth about Indigenous affairs. His remarks will no doubt outrage many Australians who consider themselves caring and decent, but what he had to say is far more important than placating easily offended types.
“There is $34 billion going out there every year somewhere and it’s doing next to nothing,” Martin said in January 2019, referring to the Productivity Commission’s 2015-16 estimate of the total spending by the state, territory, and federal governments on Indigenous Australians. “You can’t just keep calling the ‘poor bugger me’ card and blaming whitefellas when kids don’t go to school and get their faces and noses wiped.”
Dead right, Ray Martin. You cannot realise sovereignty without self-responsibility. And to think that nearly five years after you made that observation, the Albanese government wants to entrench the poor bugger me presumption in our constitution forever more. Something to do with making progress and moving forward, we are told.
But that was the Ray Martin of 2019. The one of 2023 is far different. As reported last week, he spoke last month at the pro-Indigenous Voice to Parliament ‘West Says Yes’ rally in Marrickville, Sydney. There he derided the No campaign’s slogan ‘If you don’t know, vote No’.
“What that asinine slogan is saying is if you’re a dinosaur or a dickhead who can’t be bothered reading, then vote No,” said Martin, to the cheers of the crowd. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who was present, told ABC radio the next day that Martin had made a “great speech”. …
Speaking of dickheads and dinosaurs:
As for Martin’s tirade against “nonsensical and stupid” referendum slogans,” I am all for calling them out.
Here are a couple for starters: “It’s just a modest request” and “Our nation’s birth certificate should recognise this”. How many times have we heard Albanese say, “It is a generous and gracious invitation”?
Thank goodness the referendum campaign ends this weekend, otherwise there would be a real risk of death by platitude.