In the past week we’ve seen how the Voice is divisive and dangerous in so many ways it’s hard to keep up.
And it’s barely been two weeks since the Prime Minister announced the wording of the referendum. The referendum Bill itself only entered the Parliament in the past few days.
Yet the idea of the Voice is so bad for our country and so threatening to our constitutional order that you can’t go anywhere without seeing someone raise a new problem with it.
The fact is, it’s not just that the Voice will divide us if it is established – it’s already dividing us now.
The Human Rights Commission is divided on it. After they issued a joint statement supporting the Voice, one of the Commissioners, Lorraine Finlay broke with her colleagues and penned a piece in The Australian explaining why she doesn’t support the Voice.
The draft wording that has been announced goes beyond ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a right to participate in decision-making that affects them. It inserts race into the Australian Constitution in a way that undermines the foundational human rights principles of equality and non-discrimination and creates constitutional uncertainty in terms of its interpretation and operation.
She is rightly concerned about the fact that the High Court is inevitably going to be involved in what powers the Voice has and that it undermines our “unity of sovereignty”.
After Finlay’s article was published, a number of former Human Rights Commissioners popped up with a statement that she was wrong and, don’t worry, the Voice is totally fine.
According to The Guardian:
They said, in their opinion, Finlay’s view “is likely to mislead Australians” who will be required to vote on this proposal at a referendum.
Quite how it is likely to mislead Australians is not made clear. The five commissioners simply state they disagree with Finlay, but offer no substantial evidence as to what exactly she got wrong.
This has been the playbook all along, of course. Someone issues concerns with an aspect of the Voice and Voice supporters simply say “no, that’s not right” and move on.
Even the Prime Minister is doing the same – claiming the Voice won’t be about foreign policy even as his own Government has just appointed a First Nations’ Ambassador whose role is to “develop a First Nations Foreign Policy Strategy”.
So foreign policy is a matter that affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and therefore entirely within the remit of the Voice.
The incoherency is self evident.
The division is already happening.
And we’re only getting started.
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