On Saturday, October 14, 2023, Australians went to the polls to decide whether a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament should be written into the Constitution. The outcome (or 'outcomes' if you are a bureaucrat or socialist) was that that the 'Yes' campaign was 'done like a dinner'. All six states voted 'No', 60% of the population voted 'No' and 78% of the Federal electorates voted 'No'.- of the 151 Federal electorates only 33 voted 'Yes'.
To change the Constitution requires the majority of States and the majority of the population to vote in favour of an amendment. Because it was the States, as Colonies, which agreed to federate, it was made purposely difficult to change the Constitution without their consent. In following the story of the progress of the colonies towards federation, it is paramount to recognise the importance of the financial benefit to a few of colonies, particularly for Victoria. Conversely, there were a few, such as Inglis Clark of Tasmania, who genuinely believed that a federation of states could form a commonwealth, similar to the American paradigm, and that federation was in the best interests of the nation.
Andrew Inglis Clark was the Attorney General for Tasmania. He was the 'father', and the primary intellect, behind the Australian Constitution. Australia did not have its Jefferson, Washington, Madison or Hamilton, but it had Clark, who knew their writings well. Here was a scholar of political philosophy, law, history and politics. In 1891, at the National Australasian Conference in Sydney, he circulated his draft constitution to the delegates and called the federated national government the 'Commonwealth of Australia'. He also offered the design for what became our Australian flag. Clark's constitution had 96 clauses, of which only 10 were amended, and he was to contribute 75% of the 128 clauses in our current Constitution. Indeed, we really have but one Founding Farther, with some low-light premiers standing on the national stage taking the glory away from him.
It should be mentioned that the Labor Party opposed federation from the beginning remaining lukewarm, and even hostile at times, throughout the federation conventions. They saw it as a diversion from industrial grievances and the fight of labour against capitalism. The motivation behind their inactivity was the notion that if they were going to represent workers in industrial disputes in order to gain more money and better conditions, fighting a state government was easier than trying to fight a federal government. In the national arena they were not influential and had no significant input to the constitutional debates. Indeed, the Labor Party ran campaigns in every State against Federation.
Of the 45 referendums since Federation in 1901, only eight have passed, and of the 37 failures, Labour has proposed 25 of them. The Labour Party has had only one (1) of their proposals get a 'Yes' in 122 years.
In the 2023 referendum, the people have voted down another Labor proposal. The nation has voted 'NO" to a Voice to Parliament but they have also voted:
- 'No' to smoking ceremonies at the beginning of sporting events and public gatherings
- 'No' to 'Welcome to country'
- 'No' to changing the names of our cities
- 'No' to Aboriginal names for our cities at airport terminals
- 'No' to plaques on government buildings and churches declaring the land belongs to indigenous people
- 'No' to declaring all people with Aboriginal blood are 'special needs' people deserving higher benefits to anybody else with social needs.
- 'No' to corporates and entertainers getting involved in politics
- 'No' to dividing the country
- 'No' to racism and enshrining one race of people above all others in the Constitution.
- ‘NO’ to signing treaties, both State and Federal.
In the evening of October 14, Peter Dutton, the Leader of the Opposition said what all the 'No' votes want and said he would now move on to see a Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in Indigenous Communities, to oversee an extensive audit of Indigenous programs, to get money to where it is needed and to families in regional and remote areas, to boost law and order, to increase school attendance and employment in remote communities; and to listen to people in local communities. But, as he knows, we don't need a referendum to do all this: 'Just do it!'
This is Australia. On January 26 each year we celebrate that we could be known as Australian and have claimed Australian citizen ship from January 26, 1949. We all have one vote. We are all equal citizens in a democratic country with equal rights under the law as the people of Australia.
I am not a 'non-Indigenous' person: I am Australian. And I will vote 'NO' again to prevent this country from being denigrated by division, racism and inequality. Read my vote!
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