Recent Notes 31: Japan’s oppressed minority
Recent Notes 32: Pacific Forum backs Yes vote

Referendum No vote means a worse Australia


TUMBY BAY - Retired Labor Party politician Barry Jones writing in The Saturday Paper recently pointed out that the Australian constitution is a “profoundly racist document”. He called it “an expression of White Australia” and “of settler history”.

His intimation is that the Constitution is already a racist and divisive document and introducing recognition of Indigenous people and affording them a Voice will not make it any more divisive. Indeed, enshrining the Voice in the constitution may, in fact, introduce a much needed element of balance.

This makes sense when you consider race as a social construct. That is, race does not have an inherent physical or biological meaning and cannot logically be used to promote the superiority of one race over another.

What the debate about the Voice is clearly indicating is that no, matter how often it is denied, there is a very strong undercurrent of racism in the Australian community.

This is despite the fact that the Whitlam Labor government, whose predecessors supported the White Australia policy, renounced it in 1973 and replaced it with a policy of multiculturalism.

If the polls can be believed, it appears that this undercurrent of racism stands a very good chance of tipping the referendum in favour of a No vote on Saturday 14 October.

If that happens it is likely to be taken as a vindication of every racist and white supremacist and hand a free pass to them and their like to express their racism.

This outcome will hurtle Australia back in time and irreparably damage our international reputation as well as creating a feeling of great shame among Yes voters who naively believed we are a better nation than that.

There is no doubt that Australia will be irrevocably changed for the worst by a No vote. Many Australians will have to decide whether they can live with such a change.

More productively, they can support the many organisations that I feel sure will overtly pressure governments at all levels to frame laws and regulations and deliver campaigns to drive racism out of our national conversation or at least force it back into the vile and wicked space it inhabits in their brains.


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Philip Fitzpatrick

Former Chief Justice Robert French, speaking at the National Press Club this week:
"Whatever your views on the idea of the Voice, it is not just the ugly racism exposed by the debate about it — which has seen Indigenous people on both sides of the debate subjected to abuse and death threats — it is the spectacular failure, hypocrisy and opportunism that has been on display on occasions among our politicians that has already marked it as another ugly chapter in our history."

Philip Fitzpatrick

One thing that the run up to the referendum on The Voice on 14 October has clearly demonstrated is the rancid nature of many users of the internet and social media.

These despoilers of truth not only include the usual nitwits but also politicians and so-called celebrities.

One of the more stupid propositions being suggested is that the Voice is a United Nations plot to take over land in Australia.

Rather than discounting this kind of rubbish, proponents of the No case are egging it along.

When asked about it, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price said that if the Voice was successful land claims would “come thick and fast”.

The No case also claims that a Yes vote would divide Australia.

Anyone reading the debate on social media couldn’t help but be made aware that Australia is already divided by racism.

A successful Yes vote would, in fact, help heal that divide. Whether it would heal the stupidity we are seeing on social media is another question altogether.

William Dunlop

Do we, in general, trust our bodies' politic in Australia? No, we bloody well do not.

The outcome of the last referendum conducted under Malcolm Turnbull was a resounding No to Australia becoming a republic..

It wasn't about remaining with Britain. It was about whether we, the voters, trust our politicians to not have a hidden agenda. We voted that we didn't want a republic or hidden agendas.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Too good to be true Jack?

Jack Humfrey

Enjoyed reading your comments. Whatever the outcome of the vote, it will always be deemed to have been "a masterpiece between dream and reality".

Bernard Corden

"It's not the people who vote that count. It's the people who count the votes" - Joseph Stalin

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