The Aboriginal bureaucracy, and possibly some Indigenous people themselves, have been agitating for a ‘Voice’.
Surprisingly, these advocates think that having their own ‘Voice to Parliament’ – whatever this might actually mean – will improve their lot.
They make two errors.
First, they seem unaware – or are at least unwilling to admit – that they already have a voice. As it happens, a ubiquitous and thunderingly loud voice. Everywhere you go, everywhere you look, and everything you hear, promotes the interests of our First Peoples.
I attended a graduation last week and what felt like the first ten minutes of the occasional address – given by the Governor of New South Wales – were taken up with eulogies to the traditional owners of the land. It was a turbo-charged acknowledgment of country. Even supposedly right-wing premiers feel the need to plonk Aboriginal flags atop national landmarks like the Sydney Harbour Bridge despite saying as recently as 2018 that such histrionics was blatantly self-serving virtue signalling.
When you have a conservative Premier in the palm of your hand already, why is there a need for the additional ‘Voice’?
The other week, I had the bright idea to visit Mt Warning (near Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales) for some bushwalking only to find that you’re not allowed to climb Mt Warning (named, alas, by Captain Cook and inevitably re-branded ‘Wollumbin’). Sacred site.
Network television runs many adverts celebrating Indigenous culture and achievements, and to alert the community of upcoming ‘healing’ events like NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week. This is doubly true for the ABC. Even the football codes have their Indigenous rounds. It strikes me that, for a ‘voiceless’ group, they are already in fine voice.
The second mistake made by the ‘Voice’ advocates is thinking that Australian Parliament is a vehicle for ‘being represented’ or the fulcrum for effecting beneficial change. If you want to reform systems, improve outcomes, or advance cultures – you best do it by electing members of the Parliament. What is being proposed is simply ridiculous.
We have had a party in the Parliament for seventy-odd years that declares to act purely and simply to defend individual freedom. That party has, in the last two years, overseen the complete destruction of freedom in this country, without blinking. There is another party in Parliament, which has recently formed government, that says it exists to promote the interests of the working class. It does not. Its recent actions suggest that it loathes the working class and its values. That party is there to advance the interests of what David Goodhart has called the ‘anywheres’; rich, green, globalist, footloose progressives who cannot comfortably define the word ‘woman’.
One of these parties, the one that ‘won’ the recent election scored 32 per cent of the primary vote. The other party, the one that lost, achieved 35 per cent.
That leaves a third of Australians who do not remotely feel they have a ‘voice’ in or ‘to’ the Parliament.
The Greens and their Teal friends have seats, of course. They can do preference deals. They have the media and wealthy friends on their side. They have a voice that echoes, without cease, around the boardrooms, campuses, and the better dinner parties of the nation.
On the other hand, the million and a half outsiders, the so-called ‘somewheres’ that are generally of suburban or regional abode who cherish traditional values and who voted for right-of-centre minor and micro parties, do not. They are the true voiceless in this country, patently without influence.
This voiceless group makes up nearly one-third of the people of Australia. Perhaps they educate their children in religious schools. Maybe they are unjabbed and remain Covid dissidents. I am guessing they value freedom and patriotism. Resent Woke corporatism. Feel that customer service no longer exists. Are ashamed of what is happening to our culture. Cheer on battlers and champion small businesses. Maybe unfurl an Aussie flag on Australia Day. Fear the coming digital surveillance state. Mourn what we have lost.
For all of these reasons they are resented, sneered at, and ignored by the two major parties. Alas, these voiceless have no veto over harmful legislation.
Once upon a time, when Edmund Burke was recognised as the doyen of theorists of representative democracy – citizens rejoiced at representatives leaving their ideological baggage at the door and proceeding to decide the affairs of the nation through reasoned and reasonable debate or evidence-based policy. These were the days when the (now obsolete) description of ‘rational actors’ actually meant something. Indeed, it was always first model of decision-making mentioned in the Pol Sci 1 texts.
The true voiceless have nowhere to turn in Australia’s degraded parliamentary democracy presided over by a Lib-Lab duopoly in the service of unelected creatures of the administrative state, the medical establishment, big corporates, and funky tech companies run by the Woke. The only way to break up the major party cartel is to embrace a hung Parliament. Unfortunately, any joy derived from a hung Parliament would be short-lived, given the make-up of the current crossbench. I don’t see much prospect of ‘we-the-outsiders’ getting the attention, let alone the sympathy, of climate botherers.
Sadly, the nation’s woes go much deeper than voicelessness in Parliament.
Parliament is a shadow of the institution that once steered the nation on safe paths. We have experienced what might be called a ‘closing of the Australian mind’, at just about every level and across all of our public-facing institutions. Why create a ‘voice’ when you don’t have a rational parliamentary mind? The political class is driven by power and self-interest. It no longer listens to evidence-based arguments or cares less about getting policy right. Politics has become a species of marketing, happy to use its preferred tools of propaganda and narrative maintenance.
It is a Parliament where ideology trumps reason. Where appearance is everything. Where minds are shut. Where ears are blocked.
This sort of Parliament could not hear a ‘Voice’, even if it was shouting. Ask the tens of thousands of truckers who marched on Canberra in their fight for basic rights and freedoms, whether they think their extremely loud and eminently reasonable voices ‘to Parliament’ resonated at all with those who abide in the nation’s capital, and who, alas, run our lives.
No, I didn’t think so.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.