Labor Senator Pat Dodson is one of the big guns in the Indigenous reconciliation movement. He’s the Albanese Government’s Special Envoy for Reconciliation for a reason. No one doubts his sincere commitment to improving the lives and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.
But his comments on Monday about his own Government’s inaction on Indigenous deaths in custody goes to the heart of why the Voice is such a confused idea – and why that confusion makes it a dangerous and divisive one.
In an interview with Nine newspapers, Dodson called for the recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. As they reported:
Arguing that institutional racism continues to pervade criminal justice systems around the nation, Dodson said the federal government should immediately set up a national Indigenous justice committee, a federal office to oversee state coronial inquests and ensure the provision of Indigenous-tailored health services in jails.
The most obvious question here is: what is the real purpose of the Voice if there remains a need for a new national committee and a new federal office to deal with specific Indigenous issues?
It’s one of the major contradictions of the pro-Voice side that they say none of the previous Voices like ATSIC have worked, nor have the 300 or so Indigenous community and government organisations, yet at the same time there are no calls to abolish those groups or the National Indigenous Australians Agency.
And now we have Senator Dodson calling for another body – two bodies in fact – to be established.
So what is the Voice for, exactly? Is the Voice really about Closing the Gap or is it something else?
Because you don’t put it in the constitution unless you want it to be feared and have teeth.
Dodson’s intervention is revealing because if you need another agency on top of a Voice to deal with Indigenous deaths in custody, the Voice must have another purpose.
The fact is the Voice is about enshrining race separation in our founding document and setting us on a path towards Treaty and Truth Telling which involves further separation, further division, and the end of our one-vote-one-value democratic system.
That’s not hyperbole: it’s right there in the Uluru Statement and in the Voices that have already been set up in places like Victoria.
To be clear, Fair Australia is not saying we shouldn’t address Indigenous Deaths in Custody.
Rather, the concern is that Australians are being told by politicians in Canberra that the Voice is a ‘modest’ request yet all their actions say otherwise.
The question should not be, “Do you want to fix Indigenous disadvantage?”
It should be, “Do you want to change the constitution?”
And there’s nothing modest about changing the constitution.
Do you like this page?