A commentary about the upcoming referendum on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, and comparisons in the rhetoric in this referendum to the Brexit Referendum in the UK 7 years ago.
Ideally, the commentary will be for The Australian, but could also be published in The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age or as a commentary piece for ABC News Online.
Later this year, Australians will be asked to vote in an historic referendum to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. This referendum, the first since the doomed 1999 republic referendum in which 55-46% margin, will be historic, not least because the Albanese administration has made it a signature policy, as mentioned at the Garma Festival last year.
The intentions of the Prime Minister and the Commonwealth Government are honourable, But, recent events and rhetoric suggest that political divisions between the capital cities, Canberra and regional Australia are widening and can divide Australians. Jacinta Price, the Country Liberal Senator who sits with The Nationals, and the now Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, has been told in no uncertain terms by pro Voice activists that she cannot and will not speak for Alice Springs (despite living in the town all her life) and being Indigenous herself, whilst Noel Pearson, one of the great orators of this country has used hyperbole language to describe Liberal leader Peter Dutton as the gravedigger who will bury Uluru.
The seismic nature, coupled with this hyperbole rhetoric, is in my mind, is delivering a sense of déjà vu to the Brexit Referendum seven years ago. I still recall to this day Chancellor (the UK Treasurer) George Osbourne threatening an Emergency Budget if Britain votes to leave, and posters driven around London of kicking migrants out, and then, in the aftermath of it all, those who held Remainer views denounced as traitors and un-patriotic to their country.
Given the rhetoric by Senator Price, No Campaign head and prominent Indigenous Australian Warren Mundine, as well as recent hyperbole employed on the yes side, then Australia will fall into the pit of division, the same pit that the UK fell into, and is still struggling to climb out of.
In my mind, there is one way that this debate can be civil, and that is an end to the ‘my way or the highway’ approach to politics. This weekend, the Sydney Swans will face Geelong at Moore Park and supporters of the Red and the White will sit alongside supporters of Geelong to engage in the Australian tradition of mate ship and sportsmanship.
Dr Mitchell Hobbs – Politics lecturer at the University of Sydney – Mitchell.email@example.com
Jenny Long – Legislative Council Member for Newtown – (02) 9517 2800 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Someone advocating a no vote (TBC)
Multimedia to include:
- Senator Price No Campaign Ad
- Picture of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the Garma Festival 2022
- Audio of Noel Pearson claiming Peter Dutton is a grave digger who will bury Uluru.