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Recognition and closing the gap are lost in the Voice debate

By Dinesh Malhotra - posted Thursday, 28 September 2023

As we approach October 14, the campaign is hotting up with Australians being hounded through emails and phone calls and SMSs to vote a particular way.

The problem is, this being a referendum and not the ordinary election, an email or phone call cannot do justice to what is at stake and thus may prove fruitless in the end.

The idea to recognize Indigenous people in our constitution has now been tied to a body – the Voice – to be enshrined in the constitution; which should have been a two separate steps process.


Recognition of Indigenous people should have happened a long time ago – even before the 2008 symbolic apology. Our Indigenous people were the first inhabitants of this land and it must be recognised in our constitution and we all should respect Australia's Indigenous heritage.

The question though is – is the Voice the only way and the right way to do that?

Before we examine that, it is important to note that there are three facts beyond debate:

1. recognition of Indigenous people in our constitution is the minimum we can do;

2. that many Indigenous people would have been victims of colonization of this continent; and thus,

3. their claims for compensation are worthy of attention for redressal, going forward.


On behalf of those victims, let us call it the first 'wrong' in Australia's history.

And the Voice, in my view, will be the second 'wrong.'

As they say two wrongs do not make one right, we should remedy the first wrong, not descend to commit the second wrong.

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About the Author

Dinesh Malhotra is the contributing editor of Bharat Times, an Indian community publication based in Melbourne since 1997.

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