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The defeat of ‘The Voice’ will not trigger much self-reflection

By Graham Young - posted Monday, 23 October 2023

The huge defeat of The Voice proposal is a clear signal that Australians want a change in direction in policy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people-but not just any change.

There was no triumphalism in the victory speeches of the main No campaigners, like Senator Jacinta Nampijimpa Price, and even an underlying tone of sadness that things had come to this.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in his referendum night speech seemed to be soliciting a new approach and bipartisanship with Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, which he seemed to be welcoming of, albeit with some political thorns.


Labor is promising to get back to bread and butter issues, claiming The Voice campaign will have no effect on their vote at the next election.

I think this is wrong.

The prime minister may have called on all Australians to accept the result, but Yes23 campaigners are casting around for reasons why they lost. While many of these are self-serving, they point to systemic problems for Labor which reach right down into their ideological roots.

Labor's approach to governance exposed

The first problem is that Yes campaigners cannot accept the truth that the major reason they lost the campaign was that the proposition was a non-solution to a very real problem. Advertisement - Story continues below AD

Labor has a drawer full of such policies.

They are collectivist, top-down, and often give special privileges to particular groups. And they have been produced without consultation with the wider community by people whose practical experience and understanding are limited.


It's not enough for Labor to name the problems that people are suffering from - interest rate increases; housing affordability and rental crises; stuttering electricity systems and escalating power prices; low economic productivity; lack of childcare and aged care places; and massive debt and the threat of higher taxes.

There was no positive connection between a constitutionally enshrined bureaucracy full of well-known activists who already had the ear of the government, and improving outcomes for Aborigines.

Likewise, there is no positive connection between a small increase in government housing expenditure and housing affordability; ever-higher penetrations of wind and solar, and lower power prices; higher nominal wages but an inflexible workforce to higher economic productivity; unrealistic staffing demands to available increased child and aged care availability; or all of the above to lowering debt and keeping taxes under control.

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This article was first published by The Epoch Times.

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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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