September 9, 2023
Why I am voting YES – Philip Nitschke
It is not often that I stray into mainstream politics, but the forthcoming Australian Referendum on a Voice to Parliament is one issue that I cannot stay silent about.
I am voting YES because Aboriginal people have received a raw deal from us white Australians for over 200 years (to put it mildly).
Genocide and dispossession are more accurate descriptors?
It is not good enough for the ‘white man’ to continue to think that they know best for black Australia.
The Voice to Parliament is a very small step:
- An advisory body to be consulted on policy matters
- An advisory body whose advice the government is under no obligation to accept, only to hear
It doesn’t seem like much does it.
Of course, the Voice should be the first step along the road to Aboriginal Australians being formally recognised in our country’s Constitution – itself correcting an embarrassingly racist, colonial wrong.
Treaty and reparations can and must follow.
But for now, let us concentrate on a Voice.
To those nay-sayers who argue the Referendum is a political grab for power, I don’t actually care which side of politics works to bring about this change, as long as one side does.
This is history in the making.
I despair that the conservative side of Australian politics have been, and are doing their utmost to create confusion and doubt and to bring the Referendum down.
Australia is racist to its core as a country.
This is not the reason that I left, but it provides absolutely no incentive to ever return.
I treasure my years when I worked as a scribe for Vincent Lingiari out at Wave Hill in the early 1970s.
Following my pacifist action against the Vietnam War when I was at university, it was Aboriginal land rights that took me to the Northern Territory all those years ago.
Even I got a taste of white racism back then, as I was harassed by the powers of the day: those who saw me as traitor to my race, those who believed the Gurindgi should remain in servitude to their white pastoral masters.
Lord Vestey was in outback Australia for one reason: to make money. Free black labour was his stock and trade.
Fast-forward 50 years and it should be a no-brainer to vote yes in the Voice Referendum: to help black Australia reclaim its pride, its dignity and its self-determination.
If now is not the time to begin to right the wrongs of the past, then when?