Painful legacy of failure
In the midst of the astonishing torrent of misinformation and manufactured fear released by the “No” campaign on the Voice, it was wonderful to read the articles by Barry Jones and Paul Bongiorno (“The Voice is our Brexit moment”, “To HAFF and have not”, September 16-22). Jones correctly identifies the referendum as one in which failure to pass will almost undoubtedly be bitterly regretted by much of the electorate, tarnishing Australia’s reputation abroad and alienating many of the Indigenous people whose hand of friendship will have been rejected. Bongiorno points out the vanishingly small chance Peter Dutton would honour his pledge to hold a second referendum, which would offer only purely symbolic recognition of the undisputed fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were here before colonisation. It would stand absolutely no chance of passing. It is regrettable almost beyond words that the federal opposition has deliberately cast itself in the role of spoiler. One can only hope they are unsuccessful.
– Juliet Flesch, Kew, Vic
Shout it out
Thanks, Saul Griffith, this is most definitely the message: “Contrary to the conservative narrative that what we do doesn’t matter, we are critical to global success in tackling climate change” (“How to build a green economic boom”, September 16-22). Let’s shout it loud from all the rooftops, and across all the valleys, waters and seas. Let’s talk it up at every opportunity. Now.
– Ellie Bock, Mena Creek, Qld
Thank you for your editorial (“In defence of Marcia Langton”, September 16-22). Langton was called undisciplined on Insiders, but I see her as a truth-teller. I think many people cannot see the racism – we need more articles pulling apart the “No” case and exposing that racist root. The country–city divide is another matter. The Nationals attempt to say they represent rural people, but it is a narrow band. I would like to hear more voices from rural people: the Aboriginal leaders in towns and in small community organisations; the regenerative agricultural farmers; the stories where racism happens and where there are local solutions.
–Jasmine Payget, Lawson, NSW
A vote for recognition
So much has been written and said about the forthcoming referendum and the Voice, both truth and lies. For me the decision is a simple one. My “Yes” vote is about recognition, of the rights of the Aboriginal people in this country to be heard. The Voice is not something that will divide the country. Rather it is an incredible opportunity to bring us together, to make us more. The people who say this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity are right. If we do not take it, we will be forever less.
– Francis Pollard, Moffat Beach, Qld
The long view
While I support the proposal in the Uluru statement for Voice, treaty and truth-telling, I have concerns about a constitutionally enshrined Voice being a necessary first step towards recognition of First Nations people. As a former Western Australian public servant, I served as executive officer on a number of committees, councils and advisory bodies. All of these bodies were disbanded once their objectives had been met, or when they had outlived their usefulness. Taking the Voice as a permanent advisory body, it seems reasonable to ask what role it might play, in say 50, 100 or 200 years, when hopefully the Closing the Gap targets have been met and First Nations people are participating fully and actively in society. If, however, the Voice is regarded as a consultative process, it could take different forms at different times in response to changing circumstances. It would seem to be counterproductive for a body to be permanently established that served, even inadvertently, to promote and perpetuate a perception of ongoing Indigenous disadvantage, the very disadvantage that we are all seeking to make a thing of the past.
– Tony Dean, Booragoon, WA
Jonathan Pearlman’s report (“Kim travels to Russia in show of support for Putin”, September 16-22) is a worrying development. Two dictatorial leaders of countries hostile to the West supporting each other with weapons of war, one with bellicose intent and the other at war, is bad enough. But when you consider that Russia has abundant nuclear weapons and North Korea is amassing a nuclear arsenal, an actively bellicose alliance is possible. Western nations must do all they can to prevent such an unthinkable outcome. The main problem with that is their seemingly impenetrable security. But we must form an even stronger alliance and do our best.
– Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin, ACT
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on September 23, 2023.
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