Referendum No vote means a worse Australia
If our heroes say ‘Yes’, so can we

Recent Notes 32: Pacific Forum backs Yes vote


The head of the Pacific Islands Forum, Henry Puna, believes Australia’s credibility will be boosted globally if the Yes vote on 14 October wins referendum, which ends tomorrow week. Puna said he respected Australia’s right to make its own democratic decision, but he wanted to see a Yes vote.

Asked at a media conference to describe the consequences for Australia’s relationships with the Pacific Islands in the event of either a Yes or No victory, Puna said “it would be wonderful to see Australia vote Yes, because I think it’ll elevate Australia’s position, and maybe even credibility, on the international stage.” An article by Daniel Hurst in The Guardian said Puna’s comments shine a spotlight on the potential impact of the referendum on Australia’s international relationships.

Meanwhile, Vanuatu’s former foreign minister Ralph Regenvanu said a No vote would be a blow to Australia’s relationships with the region. “It’s by no means a radical proposal,” Regenvanu told the ABC’s Pacific Beat, “it’s just providing an advisory voice. We have that in our constitution in Vanuatu. We have an advisory voice to parliament for customary chiefs.”

Regenvanu said the Pacific region was aware there was “a huge disparity” in health, social and other indicators between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. He said a failure to listen to Indigenous voices was a great injustice. “We’ve always seen that as an injustice and we see this as a unique opportunity to right that injustice,” Regenvanu told the ABC.


“There's just over a week until Australians get the chance to vote in the Referendum on whether to include an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in our Constitution. Research shows many Australians are still undecided. Our purpose at the Australia Institute is to produce research and advocacy that contributes to a more just, sustainable and peaceful society

“Few issues embody that purpose better than the Voice to Parliament. The Voice will deliver on the call made in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. It will enrich our democracy and help make Australia a more just country.” [Richard Denniss, The Australia Institute]


The Conversation website reports that a pollster has identified more than 1.7 million mentions of the Voice referendum in traditional and social media globally over the last three months. It has gleaned from this data that the issue had 148,000 mentions in overseas media in the last three months.

More recently, global media have reported on the ‘backlash’ against the referendum, as well as the spread of disinformation online, as polls suggest declining support for a Yes vote. Most news and social media mentions of the Voice were generated in Anglosphere countries, the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand.

Previous research by Professor Simon Jackman shows uncertainty about Australia’s national character among people in Japan, South Korea, China, Indonesia and the US. A successful No vote will make it more difficult to establish Australia as a credible leader on Indigenous and human rights issues, particularly in its relations with neighbours in Asia and the Pacific.


Jack Waterford writes that “sooner or later people will decide that the scourging and self-flagellation of PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the big consultancies has gone far enough. A few penances – perhaps if the Australian FederalPolice are up to it, a few prosecutions – and government departments can resume the business of outsourcing most of its thinking to former colleagues at about 10 times the cost of doing it themselves.

He writes that many retired senior public servants who have landed rich gigs as consultants “will breathe a sigh of relief and get quickly back to old ‘relationships’, by which one hand washes the other, to the mutual benefit of those letting contracts and those winning them.” Waterford also remarks that politicians - “many of whom have never worked other than in politics, or for their party or related entities” - will resume the business of forming the post-political connections by which they can prostitute their access to power and their imagined knowledge of how things work, generally to enemies of their old party.”


Nature magazine announces that the World Health Organisation has endorsed a second vaccine to prevent malaria in children. The vaccine, R21, has an efficacy of about 75%, similar to that of the first approved malaria vaccine but is easier to manufacture on a large scale and will cost less than half the price per dose. “There’s going to be enough of it to actually give out to children,” says malaria researcher Jackie Cook.


Also in Nature, an article suggests that volcanic activity, not an asteroid, killed the dinosaurs. Volcanic gases would have started to cause dinosaur-dooming climate chaos long before the asteroid impact. “You can actually recreate the environmental conditions that could cause a dinosaur extinction solely by volcanism, as if the asteroid weren’t there,” says computational geologist and study co-author Alexander Cox. “But of course, we can't discount the fact that the asteroid definitely didn't cheer up the dinosaurs.”


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Lindsay F Bond

Australia please note: Vanuatu has an advisory voice to parliament for customary chiefs.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)