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What if Albanese doesn’t care if the Voice succeeds?

By Graham Young - posted Friday, 2 June 2023

Remember when Albo said, 'I like fighting Tories, that's what I do'?

What if that is really what defines the man? Put those glasses on, and he may think that a perpetual culture war is all to the best. Far from wanting to unite the country, a position such as this may see an advantage in dividing it.

That certainly seems to be the Democrat model in America where President Joe Biden talks about the Republicans as domestic terrorists. In an under-reported incident, Albanese adopted a similar approach when he agreed in an interview that 'democracy was on the ballot' in last year's US mid-term election, echoing the Democrats divisive dogma.


What if Albanese sees The Voice in terms of a wedge rather than good policy? Australia has to be careful not to turn Aborigines and Aboriginal welfare into fodder in the culture wars. It's not as though Labor has paid much attention to real Indigenous issues, with their leader spending more time at the footie than touring Alice Springs, even after its recent crime spree.

While Albanese reaches back nostalgically to the 1967 Referendum when the country really came together in the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander well-being and citizenship with 90.77 per cent voting Yes, there is no way he is going to get that result with this proposal.

If he wanted to promote reconciliation and national unity Albanese could put forward a simple proposal for constitutional recognition in the preamble, and legislate the Voice as an ATSIC 2.0. We'd grumble about the latter, but somewhere around 90 per cent of us would vote for the first.

Instead of this, he's taken a proposal floated by a tiny minority of the Australian population, who have a vested interest in it being passed, which would massively change our Constitution and institute a race-based franchise for one of its major organs; subjected it to the minimum of parliamentary scrutiny; and expects the population to pass it on the basis of 'politeness' without any more detail.

It's a pretty cavalier approach all around.

But he's enlisted every business and organisation reliant on government grace and favour to back the government's position, while the Greens and Teals enthusiastically mobilise because they get the vibe.


If the proposition gets up, it will be barely with a majority. The country will be permanently split and the wound continually aggravated every time The Voice makes a recommendation. If it goes down, it will be less fundamentally split, but the battle will continue. Reconciliation, which may always have been a mirage, will recede yet again.

The Liberal and National Parties may well find themselves disconnected from their erstwhile wealthy backers, guaranteeing the continuation of Teal rule in wealthy metropolitan seats, while Greens voters will be more inclined than ever to give preferences to Labor, a necessity for a party that gets barely more than 30 per cent of the first preference vote.

Albanese and the Labor Party have the Coalition where they want them, if this is his thesis… If they were to fold they lose the votes of the mainstream Australians who are their main support base.

If your aim was to rule it and wreck them, this might look like a smart strategy.


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This article was first published in The Spectator.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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