by ERIC ABETZ – LEADERSHIP elites too often live in their own bubble divorced from their members, customers and supporters – and reality in general.
The current debate over whether Australians should insert a whole new chapter into their Constitution to establish the Voice in perpetuity – allegedly to assist Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – is a classic example.
On October 14, Australians will decide in a referendum whether to alter the Constitution’s preamble to recognise Indigenous people and to set up a permanent advisory body to Parliament.
The body will comprise 24 Indigenous individuals selected – not voted in – for a national committee that will receive feedback from the community and can then make “representations” to Parliament.
Irrespective of one’s view on the issue it cannot be denied that the issue is dividing the Australian community.
If opinion polls are a guide then the “No” advocates have a marginal upper hand over the proponents at this time.
In the direct face of this clear division, certain leaders are brazenly using their privileged positions to hijack their organisations into supporting the so-called Voice.
Be it the AFL, national carrier Qantas and universities – the leaders of which speak about diversity and tolerance while practicing the exact opposite against anyone questioning the Voice.
They sing from the same hymn sheet with a disregard for their membership, customers and supporters.
Is there anybody, anywhere who in any way believes the AFL’s promotion of the Voice is representative of its membership and supporters?
Given the polls and demographics involved, the AFL leadership might be singing from the same song sheet, but they are way out of tune with their supporters.
Not one club is willing to give expression to the current majority view expressed in opinion polls.
Then there is Qantas’ abuse of its shareholders’ money, which is both brazen and highly inappropriate.
Surely the role of a company with shareholders is to maximise dividends within the law for the shareholders, who can then determine on which campaign they may wish to spend their returns or on none at all.
What right does Qantas have to skim a proportion of shareholders’ dividends to promote a cause that is deeply troubling to many of them?
As for universities, they are self-righteously promoting “information sessions” where only the “Yes” case is promoted.
Where have the days gone when universities were a hotbed of discussion and debate with opposing views being robustly thrashed out?
Now they use the excuse of “trigger warnings” and “sensitivity” to bulldoze and show gross insensitivity to those expressing any opposing view.
That the alternate thinkers might be triggered or feel alienated by such a high-handed approach is simply not even considered.
Critical thinking has been pushed aside for groupthink woke style.
This corrosive malaise is not only in our public institutions but in the leadership of the Coalition Parties as well.
There is no doubt, according to the polls, that Coalition supporters are overwhelmingly opposed to the Voice.
If the recent votes at the Liberal and National Party are any guide, the membership of the Liberal and National Parties is even more strongly opposed.
In the face of this, we have former Deputy Leader Julie Bishop actively promoting the Yes case along with former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
But let’s not forget that she and her leader Mr Turnbull wanted to foist an extradition treaty with the Chinese communist dictatorship on Australians, which thankfully was stymied by a few Liberals who remembered that one of the founding principles of the Liberal Party was to oppose the autocracy of communism and fascism.
Another outworking of Liberal principles was the 1967 Referendum which took “race” out of the Constitution with a mammoth 90.77 percent supportive vote. A truly unifying and nation-building referendum.
Yet there are Liberals seeking, albeit one hopes unwittingly, to undo the wonderful gains of 50 years ago to shoehorn “race” back into the Constitution.
The behaviour of the leadership elites in 2023 promoting the Voice is reminiscent of the leadership elites in 1999 promoting the hapless republic proposal of the time, which was so soundly and roundly defeated by the people in every single State.
Thankfully Australians have a history, unlike the leadership elites, of politely listening. Australians also have a history of ignoring such elites.
Time will tell.PC