I see that the Voice of distraction and misdirection was at it again in the Weekend Australian. Chris Kenny lays bare the No campaigns “Hateful Eight” scare tactics. I can’t cover them all. Here are the first three. I’m sure you can as easily knock down the other five.
According to Kenny, it is a “blatant untruth” that the Voice inserts race into the Constitution. He notes that race is already in the Constitution and that, in any event race, is an “outdated concept.”
Race is in the Constitution; that’s true. It is in section 25, where it was placed at federation to ensure that states could not exclude people from particular races from voting for their parliaments, if they wanted to count them as part of their population for calculating their representation in the federal parliament. It is an anti-racial-discrimination provision. In section 51 (xxvi) the Commonwealth was given power, through the 1967 referendum, to make laws for the people of any race. The purpose was to allow the federal government to make laws benefitting Aboriginal people.
OK then, “race” is in the Constitution. What isn’t in the Constitution is a provision which gives any racial group a right which others don’t have. Because that would be racist. What is in there now is not racist. The Voice would be racist. Kenny needs to stop playing clever games and learn the difference between race and racism. When those supporting the No case talk about race being inserted into the Constitution, they are, in that context, talking about racism being inserted. And, right now there is no racism in the Constitution; as there would be, if the Yes case were to get up. As to race being an outdated concept, if only it were.
According to Kenny, the argument that the Voice “will deliver a treaty, reparations and more…form the heart of the scare campaign and deliberately ignore” its lack of legal power.
Legal power comes from two primary sources. A vote of the majority of the parliament. And decisions of the High Court. The Voice of itself cannot exert legal power. But as a constitutionally enshrined body it will wield significant influence. How that translates into action over time will be dependent on the ever-changing political composition of the parliament and on the political leaning of the High Court. Both unpredictable. However, the Voice will only have to find one or two propitious sets of circumstances to get its radical agenda through.
We know that treaty is the next cab of the rank after the Voice. That’s part of the Uluru Statement. We know that many activists behind the Voice see reparations and some form of sovereignty wrapped up in a treaty. Does Kenny lack imagination? The activists don’t. For them, the Voice is simply the first step to give them a sold constitutional base from which to seize the opportunity to build a much grander edifice.
According to Kenny, the Uluru Statement is not more than one page. Claims that it is longer are “false.”
Again, Kenny is indulging in game playing. The Uluru one-pager is a distillation of a process captured in the records of discussions and meetings. It is surely fair enough to regard those records as pertinent to interpreting and better understanding the one-pager? That is the substance of the matter. Instead of engaging with that substance, Kenny dances around it. It’s unedifying from a supposed conservative. I suppose “supposed” is the operative word.