Mon, 06 Feb 2023

Indigenous Voice to Parliament a good step, but not far enough

Independent Australia
07 Dec 2022, 16:52 GMT+10

While the Federal Government has taken steps towards reparation with Australia's Indigenous people, more needs to be done to confer independence and sovereignty, writes DJ Cronin.

IMAGINE THE SCENARIO of invading a continent with many countries, wiping out most of its population, hoisting their flag and saying they discovered the "country". Imagine putting some of them in zoos, stealing their children to bring them up differently and then celebrating the invasion day as a holiday.

Imagine some in the new country still having racist feelings towards its Indigenous people both overtly and covertly and governments introducing policy that does not truly address generational trauma.

Imagine this new country today deciding to give its First Nations people a "Voice to Parliament". Imagine some major political parties disagreeing with this.

The Voice to Parliament was described by one Twitter user as:

While I personally support the Voice, simply because the alternative "No" answer is too horrific to even contemplate, I believe it simply does not go far enough.

Albanese's Voice to Parliament referendum should be a no-brainer

Is a Voice to Parliament really such a difficult thing or is it a simple change?

But here we are, in a continent of nations asking one made-up nation and its majority whose population is now mainly White to vote on something that should have been enshrined in different ways many years ago.

We are offering the "Voice" while we still celebrate the day this continent was invaded. Our national flag still has the Union Jack - the invaders' flag - on it. We sing a national anthem in English and were so kind in changing one word in it as some so-called great token to our First Nations people - from 'young and free' to 'one and free'. What a big deal.

We have a National Sorry Day. But are we truly sorry? Maybe it's just a national "make us feel better" day for all the terrible injustices and problems we have brought to this continent.

I used to ignorantly celebrate Australia Day until I completed a cultural awareness two-day training course.

Most Australians grew up not knowing the true history. History is oft written by the victorious.

As an Irishman, I can experience firsthand what invasion means even today. I think and write and speak in English as speaking Irish was once forbidden in Ireland by the invaders. The native language was practically wiped out except for some western areas of the island.

Over a million starved to death and another million left the country to survive during the famine-genocide in Ireland. Ireland was abundant with food that was only to be used by the invaders and shipped offshore. But they allowed the Irish the potato. And when blight eradicated the potato it eradicated a million lives. Some had to "take the soup" and change their religion to eat.

Ireland is wrongly still divided into North and South. But that will change soon.

What changes for our First Nations people here on this continent? We will give them a Sorry Day and "a Voice" but even this will sit 'outside of Parliament'.

A step, but a step not far enough.

All or nothing: Including a First Nations voice to Parliament

Changing the Constitution to include an Indigenous voice to Parliament would require other changes for inclusiveness.

The question in the referendum will be:

Yes of course but...

Whose Constitution? Ours?

According to Amnesty International:

Having a Voice without having a treaty is very problematic in my mind.

Colonial wounds: Australia must prioritise Indigenous Voice over Republic

As the mourning period for Queen Elizabeth II nears its end, Australia remains a nation divided on the monarchy issue with an unhealed colonial wound, echoed in the Voice debate, writes Belinda Jones.

Australians Together states:

Sometimes systemic issues require radical change. I would propose that a First Nations party be elected by First Nations people and be given 51 per cent of seats in every future Parliament. It gives independence and sovereignty back to the First Nations people.

But what type of democracy is this? What type of democratic nation invades another? What type of democratic nation fights wars and spends billions on nuclear submarines and weapons of mass destruction when millions are starving all over the globe? What type of democracy takes part in war without the consent of its people?

We are living on First Nations land. It's time to sign a treaty and give back the land to its rightful owners. It was stolen. We truly say "sorry" when we give it back.

The First Nations people have always had a connection to and cared for their land. With the rightful owners re-established we can see a new continent develop - one with a bright future, a clean future, a peaceful future and a continent that is truly neutral. And a new Constitution that respects the dignity of all.

Perhaps 90 per cent of you may think this idea is outrageous. Thought provocation can lead to systemic changes.

American author George Lois once said:

DJ Cronin is a guest on Quandamooka land and has been living on this continent for 27 years after emigrating from Ireland. He writes on volunteering and mindful leadership and is also a poet, actor and general larrikin.

Indigenous Voice in the Constitution is the only meaningful option

The Government has made little progress on enshrining an Indigenous Voice to the Federal Parliament. It's clear the Voice must be incorporated into the Constitution, writes Ronahi Demirbag.

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