Never had a voice? Where’s this $2b a year going then?

The campaign for the divisive Voice opened last year with an ad that made a simple claim. That Indigenous Australians have been speaking for thousands of years but they had “no voice, no say on matters which affected them”.

That’s been the reasoning put forward by Voice supporters from the Prime Minister down, that this is a simple proposal to give Indigenous Australians a voice on matters which affect them, because they haven’t had that in the past.

You have to wonder, then, what is the purpose of the National Indigenous Australians Agency?

This is the government agency responsible for Indigenous policy development and delivery. It was founded in 2019 and sits under the banner of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. It reports to the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, who sits in the Cabinet.

According to the Daily Telegraph they receive nearly $2 billion in funding each year – much of which is for grants programs – with a staff of around 1300, including 40 executives.

And the kicker is their vision as stated on their website, that: “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are heard, recognised and empowered.”

And then, right there further down in their “purpose” section of their website they say:

We lead and influence change across government to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a say in the decisions that affect them. [emphasis added]

So let’s get this straight: right now there exists a government agency with the explicit vision of ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are “heard” and “have a say in the decisions that affect them”. It’s a body with $2 billion in funding, 1300 staff, and a minister in the Cabinet.

Oh, and don’t forget that one of their “areas of focus” is to provide advice to government and parliaments:

The NIAA provides advice and information to the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Australian Government, State and Territory governments, organisations, providers and communities to inform policy development, programs and monitoring of the effectiveness of programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

And with all that money and resources, the Albanese Government is tasking the NIAA with “educating” Australians on the divisive Voice.

They reckon it’s not a ‘yes’ campaign but in their corporate plan, the NIAA is very clear that they are working to “achieve the Government’s commitment to implement the Uluru Statement”.

That sounds a lot like a ‘yes’ campaign (with a decent sprinkling of Canberra bureaucrat-speak).

Understanding the NIAA is important, not just because it calls into question the claim that Indigenous Australians have never had a voice, but also because it lays bare the real intention of the divisive Voice.

If an agency exists that has the funding, resources, and stated purpose of providing advice and giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a say in matters that affect them, why do you also need to change the Constitution?

Keep in mind that there is no suggestion from anyone in government or any Voice advocate that the NIAA should be folded or integrated into the Voice should the referendum be successful. No, the NIAA will still exist, still get its funding, alongside an even more powerful constitutional voice.

And that’s the issue here: making the Voice powerful and separating it out from the normal democratic system of government in the Constitution.

Despite the best efforts to obscure this, the NIAA’s mission and purpose makes clear what’s really going on.

The Voice isn’t a modest proposal, it’s not about having a say. The NIAA is a voice, it has a say, it’s led by Indigenous Australians, it reports to an Indigenous Minister.

What’s the point of the divisive Voice? It’s to have more than ‘have a say’. It only makes sense if it’s about changing the Constitution to divide Australians and to set us on a road where we’re no longer one together, but two separate.

And that is the ultimate destination of the dangerous and divisive Voice.