Recent Notes 32: Pacific Forum backs Yes vote
The Unexplained Wealth Act & Paul Paraka

If our heroes say ‘Yes’, so can we


Noel Pearson  Josh Apanui and a crowd of supporters at Tweed Heads
Noel Pearson Josh Apanui and a crowd of Yes supporters at Tweed Heads


TWEED HEADS - Joining the Yes campaign to offer greater inclusion for Australia’s Indigenous people campaign has been a revelation for me. I’ve met people of every background, united in wanting to give giving First Nations people a voice in federal parliament.

Some of these heroes are white, others are black, brown or yellow. They are tradesmen and women, artists, musicians, solicitors, construction workers, plumbers, electricians, judges and workers from all walks of life. They represent a remarkable array of talent from every section of society.

Early polling has started across the country – an opportune time to list some of the names and occupations of those who are voting Yes in next month’s referendum.

Nathan Cleary, NRL grand final star, gave a thumbs-up to the camera as he posted a video, ‘No voice, no choice, come on Australia, vote Yes.’  Storm and international NRL player Cameron Munster also supports Yes.

Johnathan Thurston, another NRL legend from the Cowboys in Townsville, posted: “Giving them a say will mean more of our kids reach their potential. That’s what the Voice is about.”

Adam Goodes, former Australian of the Year and AFL star, declared: “There is nothing in the Constitution right now, not a single word, that mentions that anyone was here in 1788. We need to acknowledge this simple fact, and include the first Australians in our Constitution at long last.”

Cathy Freeman, Commonwealth and Olympic Games gold medallist, publicly supported the Yes campaign. “I can’t remember a time when change felt so urgent, where momentum felt so strong. Let’s show our support for the Australians who need it most. I’m voting Yes, and I’m asking all Australians to do this too.”

Evonne Goolagong Cawley has also supported Yes saying, “I believe in the simple goodness of every Australian heart. In particular, I say to Australians from my generation, the people who gave me such wonderful and warm support on the biggest stage.

“Stand with me now and help Australia grab this opportunity. You’ve cheered for me. Now, please, vote with me, vote Yes. Evonne’s protégé Ash Barty also supports the campaign.

Carlton and Adelaide AFL great Eddie Betts vowed to keep educating Australians about the nation’s Indigenous culture. “They don’t like Aboriginal people standing up for what they believe in and trying to stamp out racism. It feels like they want to put us back down in our boxes where they think we belong.”

While the 2023 AFL Grand Final was being played in front a packed house at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Brisbane forward Charlie Cameron, Adelaide star Izak Rankine and Fremantle duo Nathan Wilson and Michael Walters were being subject to the vilest abuse at other grounds.

In 2022, Western Bulldogs star Jamarra Ugle-Hagan raised his jersey and pointed to his skin in a show of defiance having also copped abuse from the stands against St Kilda.

It was a moment that drew comparisons to AFL great Nicky Winmar, who in 1993 took a now-famous stand against racism during St Kilda’s clash with Collingwood.

Musicians have been among the first to stand up for Yes. John Farnham, Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes, Missy Higgins and Midnight Oil head a stellar list.

Kelly wrote a song especially for the campaign, “If not now, when?” Barnesy appealed to the public, saying, “As an immigrant whose family fled poverty and fear to find a better life, I have always found Australia to be a fair country where most people believe in a fair go.” To answer doubters and the misinformed, rapper Briggs also put out a video which has gone viral.

Classical musicians refuse to be left behind. Statements in support have come from Opera Australia, Musica Viva, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler’s List, and another internationally acclaimed writer Tim Winton are Voice supporters.

Writers for the Voice has more than 600 members, including Shankari Chandran, winner of the 2023 Miles Franklin award, Robert Drewe, Nick Earls, Mem Fox, Helen Garner, Kate Grenville, Gideon Haigh, Chris Hammer and Richard Flanagan, who said: “The Voice to Parliament is the question that now appears over our country and, by implication, our literature.

“For us to be secure, for us to prosper, the answer lies not in relentless exploitation, nor more inequality, nor in reckless acts of external aggression to please larger countries. The answer lies in us and our land, and the way we answer this great question in October 2022. I hope, I pray that our reply will be Yes.”

The many Indigenous writers who support Yes include Stan Grant, Anita Heiss and Melissa Lucashenko, with more joining every day.

Every respected Indigenous leader, including Patrick Dodson, Noel Pearson, Megan Davis, Marcia Langton, Thomas Mayo and Rachel Perkins, have lent their names and time to the Yes campaign.   

Artists for Yes has more than 15,000 members. Artists supporting the Voice campaign include Michael Fitzjames, Lindy Lee and John Firth-Smith.

Sporting bodies, churches, arts and community organisations in their droves are also supporting the Yes campaign.

Do we stand with them, and with the finest of the nation’s heroes, or with the likes of Sam Newman, Pauline Hanson and Peter Dutton?

It’s a no-brainer.

Vote Yes on October 14!


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Lindsay F Bond

Think again, rethink, lift the thought level, give a mate a go.

That which is history is past. Opportunity to think is present.

Take a small example, as of deafness and achieved in India.

"Last week, Sarah Sunny made history after she became India's first deaf lawyer to argue in the country's Supreme Court. The Supreme Court's move has given a voice to the deaf," she said. "The court has set an example for other offices to follow as well."

A week ago I spoke with MP Peter Dutton and he heard me offer the word 'inclusion' in respect of Australians' vote on The Voice. He must have heard for he graciously thanked me for my speaking.

As a person with less than optimal hearing ability, I have experience of persuading a North Queensland court in the matter of understanding on interpretation of a town plan. It caused the judge to require two legal teams to take note.

A voice to be heard requires some equity of receptivity of understanding beyond measure of aural impact.

William Dunlop

Alboised Version of Blind Man's Bluff?

Philip Fitzpatrick

Many people, but notably Australian prime minister John Howard, have made the assertion that we are not responsible for the sins of our fathers when it comes to the past treatment of Indigenous Australians.

We Europeans have a bloody colonial history and, even though we might not have a direct connection nor any personal responsibility for what happened, it still seems to sit on our shoulders.

It’s not so much guilt but an uneasiness, especially in our relationships with our First Nations’ people who are descended from populations subjected to our ancestors' brutalities.

Some of those people no doubt fear that, given the right circumstances, the Whites' sense of superiority - innate and fixed - could again rear its ugly head.

Whether that be true or not, it is worth noting that brutal colonialism and discrimination wasn’t necessarily a Black and White phenomenon, just ask someone from Ireland who lived in England or Australia at the time of 'the Troubles'.

Also worth considering is modern day neo-colonialism where poorer countries are subjugated economically and socially by wealthy superpowers.

Colonialism is not dead, it has morphed into a new form and could do so again.

While we may not carry the stain of guilt about the actions of our ancestors, we cannot blithely disown that part of our history nor easily dismiss the hurt and fear it has carried into the present.

Showing concern for this experience is not something to be ashamed about. Neither is acting positively on that concern next Saturday by voting Yes.

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