Seize this opportunity
Professor Marcia Langton is to be thanked for her untiring work for reconciliation and her informative article (“Marcia Langton: ‘Whatever the outcome, reconciliation is dead’ ”, October 14–20). As one of those many millions of non-Indigenous Australians who stood by Indigenous Australians throughout the referendum campaign, I fully support her call for the Albanese government to work with Indigenous leaders “to develop a robust policy stance ... to turn the tide of the vicious assault on us ... our right to health services, our right to live as long as other Australians and to thrive rather than just survive”. The Albanese government came to power with a commitment to deliver that, to address Indigenous disadvantage. With the failure of the flawed referendum this commitment is even more important and critical to both heal the open wound of the referendum, to embrace the goodwill offered by the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and to close the gap. This is an opportunity for policy reform that must be seized now.
– Adrienne Kabos, Lane Cove, NSW
Langton’s article a must-read
Although too late to change the outcome of the referendum, Professor Marcia Langton’s concise and eloquent review of the history of Australian government relations with the country’s Indigenous population and her bleak assessment of the prospects for the future, post-referendum, should be read by everyone. Shortly before reading the article, as I bought The Saturday Paper, another customer declared to the newsagent the necessity of voting “No”. This woman insisted that the goal, or the result, of a “Yes” vote would be “division”. When I took issue with this claim, she asserted that she knew remote Aboriginal people and that she cared about them. She went on to assert that the Voice would not benefit the people she knew so well but “the elites” who are already “getting $350,000 per year”. All I could say was that her claims are unfounded. I wish I’d already read the Langton article and could have handed it to her, but I doubt it would have changed her view.
– Myrna Tonkinson, Nedlands, WA
Rage against the result
I am 87. I was born within earshot of Bondi Beach. For most of my nearly nine decades, I’ve been proud to call myself Australian – until this last weekend. Do not ask me to gently respect the self-serving carpetbaggers who spouted the deceitful confusion and conflict of the so-called “No” case, nor the self-proclaimed overnight experts in constitutional law who’ve never actually read the document, nor the lazily gullible lumpen Australian citizens who made no attempt to understand this referendum. They do not represent the sort of Australia I grew up to believe in and thought we had. I do not, I will not, grant them a respect they do not deserve. Do not expect apologies for my anger – at my age, I can claim that privilege. Instead, with Dylan Thomas, I simply say to the adults among us: Do not go gentle into that good night /Rage, rage against the dying of the light. And wait for the dawn.
– Ronald Burnstein, Heidelberg, Vic
Who are we really?
The ugly outcome of the Voice referendum demands that we now ask, “Who are we really?” By voting “No” we have denied First Nations People an enshrined right to speak to power about matters that directly affect their lives. What sorts of people do that to their fellow Australians? Those who peddled a dishonest and dishonourable “No” case have much to answer for. I am deeply ashamed of the outcome of the referendum and grief-stricken for all Aboriginal people who had every right to expect better.
– Janet Field, Swan Hill, Vic
“Unsafe haven” (Mary Allstrom, October 14-20) is yet another horrific example of the systemic treatment of people who rightly sought asylum. It is unconscionable that people have died waiting for justice. It demonstrates the inequalities that determine when refugees arrived and where they were kept in detention. To have years of neglect and diminished hope casts a very dark shadow across us all. What does it say when a person states that in prison one is treated better than in detention?
– Judith Morrison, Nunawading, Vic
Murray–Darling affects us all
Margaret Simons’ informative piece about the Murray–Darling Basin Plan was spot on (“Basin instinct”, October 14-20). Water is a precious resource and, as our world becomes hotter and drier, we must be scrutinous about how we manage it. Ensuring the environment is adequately resourced alongside primary production industries is essential to our ongoing wellbeing. Although the Murray–Darling plan seems like a regional issue it impacts all of us, as Simons explains. Food shortages and costs will rise if water isn’t managed effectively. All options for saving precious water reserves must be on the table or, more appropriately, in the basin.
– Amy Hiller, Kew, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on October 21, 2023.
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