Later this year, Australians will vote in a referendum. It’ll ask whether Indigenous Australians should have recognition and a representative body, known as ‘the Voice’, enshrined in Australia’s Constitution.
Throughout the debate, I’ve been on the fence. In my opinion, so far, the arguments for the ‘Yes’ case have been weak. The aims of the body have been too vague; just worn out platitudes and phrases.
The ‘No’ case hasn’t been compelling, either. There’s been a lot of fear mongering. A lot like there was during the same – sex marriage debate. On Chris Kenny Tonight, journalist/ commentator, Chris Kenny, frequently criticises opponents to ‘The Voice’ of fear – mongering.
Has MP Linda Burneyprovided a solid argument for the Voice?
Labor MP, Linda Burney addressed the National Press Club during NAIDOC Week. She argued that steps to the Closing the Gap are still needed. Australian governments — both State and Federal — weren’t doing enough. And too often, policies were imposed without consultation.
The first question I want to address today is ‘why is ‘The Voice’ needed? And the simple answer is, because the gap isn’t closing fast enough. For far too long, governments have made policies for Indigenous Australians, not with Indigenous Australians. We need a Voice to change that.
Burney pointed out numerous areas where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over – represented, including:
- That ATSI people are fifty – five times more likely to die prematurely of rheumatic heart disease
- ATSI young people are twenty – four times more likely to be incarcerated
- ATSI peopke are twice as likely to die by suicide
- Only four out of nineteen of Close the Gap’s targets are making progress.
So, what will the Voice do?
This is why I’ve been on the fence. Until now, the ‘Voice’ debatehas bedn clouded with fluff and cliches, at least in the media. To Burney’s credit, she was (seemingly) more informative.
She said the Voice — which should be in the Constitution, not just legislated — was about “advice”.
The body will consist of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across generations, geography and genders. Burney suggested that they focus on four key areas: housing, education, jobs and health.
She said that the body would be tasked in taking “the/long view”, and not be affected by election cycles.
After that, Burney’s speech fell flat. She accused the proponents of the ‘No’ case of “Trump – style politics” and spreading false information. She only called out One Nation’s Pauline Hanson by name.
She didn’t address Indigenous people, such as Senator Jacinta Nampijimpa Price and Warren Mundine who are also against the Voice.
Has Burney’s speech affected my view?
So, has Linda Burney’s speech affected my view? Well…. I was already sympathetic to the ‘Yes’ case. And as I’ve said, kudos to Linda Burney for actually explaining what ‘The Voice’ will (supposedly) do.
Will ‘The Voice’ end up being a bureaucratic mess? That’s a concern still in the back of my mind.
However, if the Indigenous Voice to Parliament does what Burney argues it will, I can see its benefit. If it helps to close the gap, then go for it. If it helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people flesh out what they need from governments and, ultimately improve their lives, then great.
But is it guaranteed?
What are your views? Are you for or against the Voice? Why or why not? Are you on the fence? Let me know your thoughts below.