I am just amazed that we seem to be sleepwalking into a complete overthrow of our structure of government and cementing pure racism into it, yet no one seems alarmed by it and no one will do anything about it. So I am going to make a valiant attempt to draw attention to this instalment of the long march through the institution of parliament to generate some opposition to what is going on before it is too late. The whole basis of our system of government is one person, one vote and one body to govern us all. And our system is non-racial, with no favours or benefits for one race as against another. Yet both of these cherished principles are being abolished. Now, with these opening comments you probably think I am preparing the ground for another attack on the proposal for a Voice to the parliament, the socialists’ plan to weaken our federal constitution by creating a third chamber and giving it a racist franchise for candidates and voters. This is the proposal now being actively promoted by the Liberal party which has been foolish enough to commit budget money to ‘co-design’ the Voice. But my complaint today is not about the federal proposal, but the other one bubbling away under the auspices of that great reformist entity, the Victorian state government. It is far more advanced than the federal one, more racist, more indefensible, more destructive and more likely to be successful. And yet it has escaped all attention.
Victoria is well on the way to providing for treaties between Aboriginals and the whole of the Victorian community and a whole range of treaty-making bodies. The structure of what is being proposed should be of concern to everyone. Candidates have nominated and enrolment is now open for electing a body called The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, which will make the treaties. I cannot see any fair way of describing this body other than some sort of parliament for an alternative government. Its very title says that it is an assembly, it has candidates, electoral districts, members, electoral officers who must be Aboriginal (and who curiously will be paid ‘above award wages’), an executive government and a franchise to determine who is entitled to vote. And, lest anyone gets the idea that it will deal with trifles or tokens, the official announcement unashamedly says that it will be ‘powerful’ and it certainly will be. Its job will be to negotiate treaties with the Aboriginals; and don’t get any ideas that there will be one little treaty we can live with. Every statement from the government and the Aboriginal lobby on this issue says that the assembly will negotiate ‘treaties’, so get ready for a treaty coming near you.
And what are these treaties to be all about? Well, they build on the foundation of what this whole movement is about – that the Aboriginals ‘never ceded sovereignty’ over Victoria, that it is still Aboriginal land and unfinished business to be set to rights by treaties. Now I do not want hares running about dispossessing land owners from their land. But if that is not going to happen, why do these proposals make so much of sovereignty and the claim that it has never been ceded?
To revert to the federal proposal, its advocates are at pains to say ‘It is only advisory’, so we will think it has no real power and go along with it. The advocates for the Victorian assembly are not so coy. They concede it will be ‘powerful’ and no Victorians, other than Aboriginals, will have any say on what its treaties will do or say.
But surely there will be some sort of umpire in the process to resolve disputes about what is in and what is out of a treaty. Yes, but the umpire will be The Treaty Authority set up by the Assembly itself. Surely, then, some law should say what the treaties should contain. Yes, it will, but it is the Treaty Negotiating Framework, another body set up solely by Aboriginals who will decide ‘how Treaties can be agreed in Victoria’.
So when you have an assembly of elected representatives, with a ‘powerful’ writ, and when its starting point is the sovereignty of the whole state, you are dealing with something monumentally significant. And what is the foundation of the whole exercise? Race, both to decide who can stand for election, who can vote and who can count the votes (with above -award wages). Already, the candidates have qualified on the basis of their racist entitlement, for there is no other. Now we decide who can vote, but that again is a racist test.
Voting is open and will go until 20 October. But who is to vote? Well, just fill in a form and say you want to vote, ‘identify’, and you are on the electoral roll. And the assembly has a uniquely wide jurisdiction, because you need not live in Victoria to have a vote! We are so generous, opening up our franchise for this unique body to people who live interstate or presumably overseas.
Secondly, you do not want it to be known that you are on the phantom electoral roll with a dubious claim? That’s alright too; the scheme provides for ‘silent’ voters who want to remain secret for a good reason, or for no reason!
Is it too late to stop this racist and public scandal? There are three things the federal government should do. First, remind the states that treaties can be made only between countries and that we are all one nation. Second, remind them that it is the federal government that is responsible for treaties. Third, pass a federal law saying so and declaring that any imaginary state treaty, like the Victorian ones, will be void and of no effect and that pretending they have any validity at all will be a federal offence.
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