WHILE handing out pamphlets for the ‘yes’ vote at the pre-poll in Raymond Terrace last week, I was approached by a well-dressed woman of the Baby Boomer age group.
She asked me to tell her why I was voting ‘yes’, and added that she would prefer that I do this using my observations and experience, rather than reciting off the pamphlets I was handing out.
I recounted my experience as a public servant working in rural and remote northwest NSW in the 1990s. I recalled that more than once members of both governments and senior policy people had addressed our regional conferences about new innovative projects they were implementing to improve the health and well being of our First Nations people. I recall the service managers, including myself, rolling eyes when once again we realised that this would be another failed policy because no real consultation had taken place. Not with us, and certainly not with the Indigenous communities these programs were designed to support.
I told the enquirer that I believed that until we have true consultation on how to close the gap – and I believed the Voice would do this – never-ending amounts of program money would continue to be misdirected. The woman nodded, said thank you and told me that she would vote ‘yes’. I now urge other people to follow her example and vote ‘yes’.
Roz Armstrong, Soldiers Point
Don’t obscure Voice’s importance
I AM pleased that your guest columnist, David Ellery, is voting ‘yes’ (“I live in the bush and I’m voting ‘yes’,” Opinion, 5/10). I am disappointed, however, that he has given us more conservative rhetoric.
Mr Ellery has identified the problem of widespread racism and extensive disadvantage in Indigenous communities in rural areas. He indicates our efforts to close the gaps in many areas have not been very effective.
Then comes the shoot-the-messenger theme. He echoes the Murdoch press in attributing comments to Marcia Langton that she did not make and becomes an apologist for the attitudes and intentions of rural “no” voters. The Parliament approved the wording of the referendum question and it will be the Parliament, not Mr Albanese as Mr Ellery asserted, that determine what the Voice will look like, what it will cost, how it will work and what it will do.
The city/country divide and the republic referendum obscure the importance of the Voice referendum question. I do agree with his conclusion, that a constitutional Voice will recognise the first inhabitants of Australia, not easily be ignored, would be a megaphone for change and overcome widespread disadvantage.
First Nations get coal shoulder
FOR the past few months I have explained I don’t support the Voice. I believe the model is flawed, against Australian constitutional principles, and that choosing to improve the representation of just one minority group should be condemned.
But after being asked by the National Party to help with their campaign, I’ll be changing my ‘no’ vote to ‘yes’.
As a member, I once held executive membership positions and attended NSW Parliament for meetings with politicians quite regularly. At no point do I believe my advocacy (at my own expense) was listened to. I wanted to see improvements in rural education and rural health of all rural people.
So I began writing letters to the editor to put extra pressure on politicians. That was effective, but I believe the consequences are that after expressing my own opinions I was not allowed to rejoin the party.
So, I’m left thinking no system of marginal representation will ever be perfect. But if an elected office-bearing member within a political party can’t influence politicians to improve the lives for rural and regional people in health and education, maybe the Voice may have a chance.
Based on my experience as a past member of the NSW Nationals, if The Voice fails and unless Aboriginal people start paying for advocacy (like the coal industry does) politicians will never prioritise addressing the needs of Aboriginal people. I’m starting to feel the benefits of a ‘yes’ vote outweigh a ‘no’ vote. Both propositions are risky.
Is the status quo closing the gap enough?
FOR closing the gap for First Peoples, do we want more of the same ad hoc policies, or do we want an organised process of representation that most First Peoples have suggested? If we don’t take the chance now and vote ‘no’, no future government is likely to oppose public sentiment and legislate for change. So, more of the same. Is that progress after 200 years?
Lots of voices across nation
IT was reported that the Australian Electoral Commission was planning to visit all of the remote Aboriginal communities in Australia, would you believe 740 of them, to explain the nature of the referendum. If the ‘yes’ vote gets up and a representative from each of these communities were a part of the Voice, it’s going to be pretty crowded in Parliament House.
Courting a referendum result
THE case against the accused in the trial by referendum has been presented and it is time for the jury to consider its verdict, bearing in mind the legal principle of voting ‘no’ if there is doubt.
Where do we sit on world stage?
IN reply to John Arnold (“Other nations listen already”, Letter, 10/10), I would ask him to advise; did the United Nations Special Procedures Committee support a legislated Indigenous Voice or a constitutionally entrenched Indigenous Voice? While a legislated ATSI Voice complies with the United Nations Indigenous Conventions, my understanding is that putting an ATSI Voice into our constitution does not comply with those conventions. I also ask Mr Arnold if he agrees that changing our constitution as proposed would indeed contravene the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Albo leads an unwelcome race
WHO is the worst PM we have had in Australia? Rudd? Gillard? Turnbull? ScoMo? I’d contend it is Anthony Albanese. Never have we had such a divisive PM. He has succeeded with his racist referendum to completely divide Australia, irrespective of the outcome. To change our constitution forever for 3 per cent of the population? Ridiculous. Even Labor’s greatest leader, Bob Hawke, was dead against any proposal to divide us by race. Vote ‘no’.
Don Fraser, Belmont North
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https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/8380409/what-i-saw-out-west-spurred-me-to-vote-yes-on-the-voice/?src=rss Letters and short takes October 11 2023 | Newcastle Herald