Hamas, Iran, Israel & war without end

A statement for our people & our country


Australia is our country. We accept that the majority of non-Indigenous voting Australians have rejected recognition in the Australian Constitution. We do not for one moment accept that this country is not ours. Always was. Always will be. It is the legitimacy of the non-Indigenous occupation in this country that requires recognition, not the other way around. Our sovereignty has never been ceded - Uluru Statement from the Heart, Aboriginal Convention, Central Australia, May 2017

Statement of 22 October 2023

To the Prime Minister and every Member of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament. This is an open letter which will be circulated to the Australian public and media.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have observed a week of silence across Australia since the outcome of the Referendum on Saturday, 14 October 2023.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags have flown half-mast and we have refrained from media commentary, even as politicians, governments, media commentators and analysts have spent a week exonerating – and indeed, lauding – the nobility of the 60.8% of Australians who voted to reject Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of Australia.

These are the collective insights and views of a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, community members and organisations who supported ‘Yes’:

  1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are in shock and are grieving the result. We feel acutely the repudiation of our peoples and the rejection of our efforts to pursue reconciliation in good faith. That people who came to our country in only the last 235 years would reject the recognition of this continent’s First Peoples – on our sacred land which we have cared for and nurtured for more than 65,000 years – is so appalling and mean-spirited as to be utterly unbelievable a week following. It will remain unbelievable and appalling for decades to come.

  2. We thank the 5.51 million Australians who voted Yes to recognition. This represents approximately 39.2% of Australian voters on 14 October 2023. At the 2022 Federal Election the Australian Labor Party received support from 32.58% of voters, the Liberal Party 23.89%, the National Party 3.6% and One Nation 4.96%. We thank those Australians who gave Yes more support at this Referendum than they did to any political party.

  3. We acknowledge the resounding Yes vote in discrete and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The high levels of support for Yes in our communities exposes the No Campaign’s lies, taken up by the media even in the last week of the campaign. The situation of these communities needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

  4. Australia is our country. We accept that the majority of non-Indigenous voting Australians have rejected recognition in the Australian Constitution. We do not for one moment accept that this country is not ours. Always was. Always will be. It is the legitimacy of the non-Indigenous occupation in this country that requires recognition, not the other way around. Our sovereignty has never been ceded.

  5. The Constitution still belongs to those who the founding fathers originally intended it for and remains unchanged in our exclusion. We were asked to be recognised over a decade ago; we sought to be included in a meaningful way and that has been rejected. In refusing our peoples’ right to be heard on matters that affect us, Australia chose to make itself less liberal and less democratic.

    Our right to be heard continues to exist both as a democratic imperative for this nation, and as our inherent right to self-determination. The country can deny the former but not the latter. A ‘founding document’ without recognition of First Peoples of this country continues the process of colonisation. It is clear no reform of the Constitution that includes our peoples will ever succeed. This is the bitter lesson from 14 October.
  1. The support for the referendum collapsed from the moment Liberal and National Party leaders, Mr Dutton and Mr Littleproud, chose to oppose the Voice to Parliament proposal after more than a decade of bipartisan support. The proposal was tracking 60% support compared to 40% opposition for several years until the National and Liberal parties preferred wanton political damage over support for some of this country’s most disadvantaged people. There was little the Yes campaign could do to countervail this.

  2. Lies in political advertising and communication were a primary feature of this campaign. We know that the No campaign was funded and resourced by conservative and international interests who have no stake or genuine interest in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We know this funding supported multiple No campaigns that intentionally argued in varying directions to create doubt and fear in both non-Indigenous and Indigenous communities.

    This included resurrecting scare campaigns seen during the 1990s against land rights, but the scale of deliberate disinformation and misinformation was unprecedented, and it proliferated, unchecked, on social media, repeated in mainstream media and unleashed a tsunami of racism against our people. We know that the mainstream media failed our people, favouring ‘a false sense of balance’ over facts.
  1. There has always been racism against First Nations people in Australia. It increased with multiple daily instances during the campaign and was a powerful driver for the No campaign. But this campaign went beyond just racism. ‘If you don’t know – Vote No’ gave expression to ignorance and licensed the abandonment of civic responsibility on the part of many voters who voted No. This shameful victory belongs to the Institute of Public Affairs, the Centre for Independent Studies and mainstream media.

  2. Post-referendum commentaries that exculpate those who voted No were expected as the usual kind of post-election approbation of the electorate. The truth is that the majority of Australians have committed a shameful act whether knowingly or not, and there is nothing positive to be interpreted from it. We needed truth to be told to the Australian people.

  3. We will maintain the vision of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. We will continue to uphold the outcomes of the Uluru Dialogues to which more than 1,200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across the country contributed – culminating in the Uluru Statement signed by 250 people on 26 May 2017.

    It is evident that many Australians are unaware of our cultures, our histories, or the racism imbued in the Australian Constitution. That so many Australian people believe there is no race or division on race in the current Australian Constitution speaks to the need for better education on Australian history and better civics education. We have faith that the upswelling of support through this Referendum has ignited a fire for many to walk with us on our journey towards justice. Our truths have been silenced for too long.
  1. We want to talk with our people and our supporters about establishing – independent of the Constitution or legislation – an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to take up the cause of justice for our people. Rejection of constitutional recognition will not deter us from speaking up to governments, parliaments and to the Australian people. We have an agenda for justice in pursuit of our First Nations rights that sorely need a Voice – we will continue to follow our law and our ways, as our Elders and Ancestors have done.

  2. We will regather in due course and develop a plan for our future direction. While this moment will be etched into Australia’s history forever, today we think of our children, and our children’s children. Our work continues as it has always done. We will continue to fight to seek justice for our peoples. We are three percent of the population, and you are 97%.


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Philip Fitzpatrick

Bernard - Michael Pascoe has some interesting statistics which include Maranoa:


Bernard Corden

Dear Lindsay - The meaning of life indeed....




Lindsay F Bond

"Always was. Always will be."
Pronoun not needed.


Yet it seems far from suggesting that the person or people being described spend too much time thinking about themselves and the meaning of their lives.

Bernard Corden

Dear Phil - In Deep North Queensland, especially in the Maranoa region, many rednecks are still driving around with 'Free Pauline' stickers affixed to their rear windscreens or bumper bars.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Apart from enlightened advancements in Indigenous affairs, South Australia has enacted many other progressive measures of which it can be proud.

South Australia was the first to embrace free settlement without convicts.

In 1838 South Australia was the first colony to establish a police force. In 1915 it became the first state to allow women to become police officers.

In 1894 South Australia was the first to give women the vote. The following year South Australian women gained the right to run for parliament, a first for Australia and the British Empire.

The state was also the first in Australia to establish a state secondary school for women, the first to allow women to pursue university degrees, the first to have a sex discrimination act and the first to legalise abortion.

In 1876 South Australia was the first part of the British Empire to legalise trade unions.

In 1966 it was the first state to legislate against discrimination on the grounds of race, colour or country of origin.

In 1881 Adelaide was the first capital city to stop flushing raw sewerage into its river system.

In 1965 it became the first Australian state to appoint a woman as a Supreme Court judge and in 1975 the first to decriminalise homosexuality.

The list goes on but there was one anomaly that disturbed my free thinking father when we first arrived here in 1956.

To his surprise he discovered that he couldn’t vote in the South Australian Legislative Council, the Upper house, because he didn’t own or lease any land. There was no similar restriction with respect to the Federal parliament.

He and my mother rented a house from the South Australian Housing Trust right up until they passed away. Only in 1973 was the property qualification removed.

Better late than never I guess.

Philip Fitzpatrick

One of the biggest surprises in the Voice referendum was the result in South Australia. The No vote was 64.32% and came in just below Queensland at 68.49%, where a No vote was wholly expected.

In my own electorate of Grey the No vote was 79.55%

And yet, South Australia has long been known as the most progressive state in Australia, particularly in terms of Indigenous issues.

Don Dunstan and his Labor Party turbo-charged that proud reputation when they came to power in 1967.

When South Australia was founded in 1836, it acknowledged the Indigenous people who already lived on the land and effectively rejected the idea of terra nullius.

It also granted Indigenous people and British Settlers equal rights under the law.

In 1844, it became the first Australian colony to accept evidence from Indigenous people in courts of law.

In 1856 it offered Aboriginal men the right to vote. In 1901, if they were on the South Australian electoral roll, Indigenous men and women also had the constitutional right to vote at Federal elections.

It wasn’t until 1962 that the Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended to give all Australian Indigenous people the vote.

In 1966 South Australia was the first state to recognise Aboriginal land rights and return freehold title to Aboriginal communities

Fifteen years later, in 1981, it returned inalienable freehold title of over 100,000 square kilometres to the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara peoples.

And in March this year South Australia became the first state to enact a First Nations Voice to Parliament.

So why did we turn our backs on our fellow Indigenous citizens so rudely?

Our premier, Peter Malinauskas, doesn’t know and neither does Kyam Maher, the Attorney-General and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

Kyam Maher is an Indigenous man who piloted two other firsts for South Australia during the Weatherill Labor Government (2011-18) by commencing Treaty negotiations and implementing a Stolen Generations reparations scheme.

The only thing I can think of is that despite the state’s otherwise proud record its voters fell for the dishonest and vicious campaign conducted by the No side.

Paul Keating has now come out and said that he did not believe constitutional reform was the best route to recognition.

I think he is right.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Paul Keating has an interesting view on The Voice.

Keating said he believed the No vote “has ruined the game for the treaty and probably for the republic as well”.

But he saw merit in a suggestion contained in the open letter to parliament from Indigenous leaders who supported a constitutionally enshrined voice to parliament, who said they now wanted to consider establishing a voice “to take up the cause of justice for our people … independent of the constitution or legislation”.

“Even opponents of a voice in the constitution supported the idea, so let’s establish a voice to put views to government about whatever matters they wish … all it would require of the government is a bit of funding from the commonwealth electoral commission to help set it up,” he said.

Keating told The Australian newspaper in the week before the referendum that he would be voting Yes and that he believed a voice could dramatically improve outcomes, a view he stands by.

But he said he had long told Indigenous leaders he did not believe constitutional reform was the best route to recognition, pointing to a letter to professors Marcia Langton and Megan Davis, first revealed in Troy Bramston’s biography, Paul Keating: The Big Picture Leader, in which he said “the route to recognition has to be straight through the front door: with a document acknowledging prior occupation, including recognition and atonement for dispossession. A treaty is the best way to do this, notwithstanding it has to be two hundred years late.”


Philip Fitzpatrick

"We want to talk with our people and our supporters about establishing – independent of the Constitution or legislation – an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to take up the cause of justice for our people."

I think that is the best option now.

A representaive Indigenous lobby group with powerful support is the only way to counter the depressing greyness of Peter Dutton's mean and punitive world.

Bernard Corden

"You stop telling lies about us and we'll stop telling the truth about you" - Adlai Stevenson

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