by GABRIËL MOENS – IT WOULD be an exaggeration to describe the Voice referendum as Australia’s nadir moment.
But Australia has certainly avoided – at least for now – becoming a country divided by race.
Indeed, if the “Yes” vote had prevailed, a potentially divisive and conflict-ridden organisation would have been permanently enshrined in the Constitution, giving some Australians a privileged position in this country.
In the end, the magnificent campaign run by the No camp, especially by Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister, Senator Jacinta Price, and the coherent message communicated to the electorate prevailed.
The message reminded electors that the success of the Yes campaign would result in the allocation of special rights to some people and not others.
Indeed, a successful Yes vote would not have contributed to reconciliation, but instead would have resulted in incessant demands for more benefits, reparations, land rights, treaties and truth-telling commissions, and more.
It would also have overturned the noble aspirations and achievements of the 1967 referendum, which is credited with promoting a “colour-blind” society.
However, although 60.6 per cent of the electorate voted No, it is important not to be euphoric because it is a pyrrhic victory.
This is because the relentless pressure for special rights for Indigenous Australians will undoubtedly continue and may even accelerate.
The architects of this disastrous endeavour will continue to push for other benefits.
In this context, our political Parties should be blamed for giving in to the politics of victimisation and divisiveness.
Even some factions of the Opposition promised that they might want to conduct a second referendum, involving the establishment of regional voices via Parliament, but would nevertheless add an extra layer of red tape to the government.
Such promises merely continue the debate about the propriety of replacing individual rights with group rights.
So, while the defeat of the Yes campaign is obviously very pleasing, it is not something that should be celebrated wildly.
It is also most unfortunate that the Voice campaign failed to live up to the requirements of a civilised discussion.
Indeed, the mud-throwing and use of invectives, especially by some proponents of the Voice proposal, have further aggravated the division that the proposal generated in the first place.
The Voice debate has revealed just how far along freedom of speech in this country has been eroded.
The immediate task of Australia, in this post-Voice world, is to learn from the past and get on with the job of making a better future for those who now live in Australia and for those who follow, without excoriating those who believe in the implementation of the principle of political equality.PC