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The Voice debacle locks in Albanese’s 'Huge Australia' and his King Charles

By Stephen Saunders - posted Thursday, 19 October 2023

Soon after Anthony Albanese activated the tear ducts, the media drift was clear.

The Voice was going to fail, they conceded. Not because Albanese had got it wrong - nothing that simple. No, it must be bad Peter Dutton. Also, we must be racists.

There was "conservative" commentator Nikki Savas at Costello Nine media. A No vote would mark us as "frightened, resentful" people, not "measured, generous".


Over at Not My ABC, David Speers tried out a novel excuse – blame Hamas. "The Israel crisis has made it harder for Yes to be heard." Therefore "Australia will go backwards."

For sheer weirdness, you couldn't top the Guardian martinet, Katharine Murphy. Dastardly Dutton was an "exploding fire hydrant" pushing his party to "electoral oblivion".

Another Costello organ, the Financial Review, argued different. Like, why didn't Albanese first try legislation? Isn't that what parliaments do? Heck, ever since that 1967 referendum, they can even do it for "Aboriginal people".

A word about that Albanese. It's true the 2017 Uluru Statement demands constitutional change. It's true Noel Pearson had continued to push for this.

So what? As Albanese knew, a referendum lacking opposition support had never won.

Especially in indigenous policy, where failure is a byword, why not try for modest wins instead. Under-promise and over-deliver to first nations.


Ironically, cruelly, among all our "ethnic" groups as it were, the Indigenous and their cultures are sometimes regarded as the most "foreign". Politicians fall over themselves to appease Chinese "migrant electorates" - not indigenous.

Check the successes highlighted in the official Yes/No pamphlet – community-controlled Aboriginal Medical Services, a community-driven Arnhem school, and Indigenous Rangers.

Valuable, but smallish, programs. Rangers has taken 15-20 years of painstaking collaboration and effort to get to 2,000 places. Still just a dot, in the federal Budget.

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About the Author

Stephen Saunders is a former APS public servant and consultant.

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