Slim Pickings at the End of History

Peter Dutton and Warren Mundine should be fixing bayonets, not consoling their devious enemies

DESPITE the polls and the victory laps, I still think the Yessers could Matilda their way to a win on 14 October. The media will sell the Voice to the so-called “soft nos” and the hitherto uninterested – that’s almost everyone – as a Steven Bradbury classic in the making. Plus: never underestimate the Liberal Party’s ability to squander the lead in any contest. Anthony Albanese could skate past a pile of bodies and win gold yet. The first book I read on military history was Field Marshall Sir William Slim’s chronicle of the Burma campaign. The title on its spine – facing out in a miscellany of beige-paged tomes in a bookshelf at home – drew me in as a teenager: Defeat Into Victory. They sounded like words to live by. Being enticed by hard-to-win prizes – the quiddity of romance – is natural in the young before the Shallow State finesses their idealism into licensed temerity. Phoebe Plummer, 21, and Anna Holland, 20 – the Just Stop Oil protesters who threw soup at van Gogh’s Sunflowers last year at the National Gallery – are useful examples. If they were really serious about rebellion, they’d march for affordable electricity, get married and have children. But they were duped. All the Quixotes these days tilt at truth and worship the windmills.

As the recent fake pandemic proved, the only difference between dupeables and deplorables is the favour of the left-wing establishment. Its proficiency at choreographing a flash mob of enthusiasm where apathy formerly reigned shouldn’t be doubted. It helps that Labor governments can’t shoot dissenters like they could just a few years ago and that respect for the Constitution hasn’t yet been classified as a virus. They are working on the latter hindrance, of course – that’s the whole point of ‘misinformation’ bills. As things stand, however, the No case is winning and many would say Peter Dutton has proved his rightist critics wrong. It was smart to play the long details game, his backers will say, rather than oppose the Voice from the start on principle. While his “try and understand it” riposte to the John Farnham ambush was karaoke karate of the first rank, such a defence assumes the impossibility of doing two things – opposing and interrogating – at once. I still wouldn’t lend Dutton my copy of Defeat Into Victory because of the risk he’d read it backwards. Liberals get the jitters when they’re winning a battle in the culture war.

Take, for example, the Opposition Leader’s grand declaration of a new plan to enact constitutional recognition via a second referendum. Besides pulling up outright – arms aloft, one lap short of the distance – this was the silliest thing to do at the end of a marathon. It affirms Labor’s predilection for casually interfering with the country’s foundational document, dilutes the Yes or No nature of the contest, gives iffy antis cause to reconsider and facilitates for the Aboriginal Industry a second crack a few years from now. Adding to the unforced confusion, Warren Mundine has today decided to throw a lifeline to the Voice by supporting so-called treaties, changing the date of Australia Day and disagreeing with Jacinta Nampijinpa Price on the supposedly lingering effects of colonisation. What are they thinking? Is the burden of being a meanie in the eyes of the Guardian proving all too much? Do they believe resolve is unbecoming; that it needs to be offset by concessions to the other side? Or are they doling out victor’s spoils on credit to sandbag their reputations after 14 October? Only Senators Price and Pauline Hanson are holding the line.

The point is, it’s foolhardy in the extreme to celebrate until the fatuous ladies, Phoebe and Anna – repurposed above as exemplars of sanctimonious vandalism – scream. There is a lot more at stake than an ‘advisory body’ for Aborigines. Megan Davis was correct to say that Trumpian politics had come to Australia – albeit for the wrong reasons. The voice now being amplified is everyone’s and polls show Australians haven’t been as easy to browbeat as the government hoped. Largely thanks to the ineptitude of the Prime Minister – remembering that most voters don’t read op-eds or watch Sky religiously – those who want to control what we say, think and do have floundered like Hillary Clinton. The cost of not pushing on to smash the Voice will be enormous and inter-generational. At the ALP national conference last month, Wayne Swan extolled like Fukuyama the normalisation of socialism and mocked the Liberals for losing the moral authority to “demonise” deficits ever again. Swan may be a dolt but he wasn’t wrong. If team No gets the wobbles and fails in four weeks’ time, forget the budget. Start getting used to a one party state.

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58 Responses to Slim Pickings at the End of History

  1. and says:

    LGBT groups lobby for voice to parliament

    The esteemed Sir Les Patterson, seer of things, was already down this track. What’s needed is a voice to parliament for blak lespians in the Yartz.

  2. Buccaneer says:

    Governor Bourkes Proclamation

    “Whereas, it has been represented to me, that divers of His Majesty’s Subjects have taken possession of vacant Lands of the Crown, within the limits of this Colony, under the pretence of a treaty, bargain, or contract, for the purchase thereof, with the Aboriginal Natives; Now therefore, I, the Governor, in virtue and in exercise of the power and authority in me vested, do hereby proclaim and notify to all His Majesty’s Subjects, and others whom it may concern, that every such treaty, bargain, and contract with the Aboriginal Natives, as aforeseaid, for the possession, title, or claim to any Lands lying and being within the limits of the Government of the Colony of New South Wales, as the same are laid down and defined by His Majesty’s Commission, that is to say, extending from the Northern Cape, or extremity of the Coast called Cape York, in the latitude of ten degrees thirty seven minutes South, to the Southern extremity of the said Territory of New South Wales, or Wilson’s Promontory, in the latitude of thirty nine degrees twelve minutes South, and embracing all the Country inland to the Westward, as far as the one hundred and twenty ninth degree of east longitude, reckoning from the meridian of Greenwich, including all the Islands adjacent, in the Pacific Ocean within the latitude aforesaid, and including also Norfolk Island, is void and of no effect against the rights of the Crown; and that all Persons who shall be found in possession of any such Lands as aforesaid, without the license or authority of His Majesty’s Government, for such purpose, first had and obtained, will be considered as trespassers, and liable to be dealt with in like manner as other intruders upon the vacant Lands of the Crown within the said Colony…”

  3. NFA says:

    January 6 would make a good Australia Day.

  4. SydGal says:

    Fr Frank Brennan and Louise Clegg gave talks at a Voice event at St Mary’s North Syd last Fri night. About 300 in attendance at the venue – the Church! FB commenced his talk referring to the “mess we are in” and provided an outline of the development of The Voice. L Clegg was particularly concerned about laws of general application re the clause “on matters relating to”. In response to a question from someone who works in the public service about how they engage with The Voice, FB said he had raised this with the Attorney-General early in the discussion. I think he said that this issue had not been put to the Solicitor-General and that there was no formal legal advice. Is the Voice debate missing this legal advice?

    Senator Pocock referred to lobbyists and later “representations” in his Senate speech last Thurs:
    … I have learnt a great deal over the last year, and the number of people who have access to this building has shocked me. It is a good thing that Australians can make representations, that they can access policy experts, and I believe the sponsored pass system is also a very good thing: you can give people access on your behalf to get into the building, to just swipe, not to have to sign in—but Australians deserve to know who those people are. It’s not good enough…
    This is in the interests of Australians, of our democracy and our future, and
    we’re currently failing Australians when it comes to lobbying. We are failing them….We’ve got to get serious about this. Our democracy is at stake if we keep taking it for granted. There are companies and industries that have figured the system out. They are working the system. They are wielding their power, and it’s on all of us to ensure that this system is as transparent as possible so that we can have trust in government decisions; so that we know that, when the government make decisions, those decisions are being made with good advice; and so that we know who is accessing the government and making representations.

  5. Jannie says:

    Fine words from Pocock, but he is talking to the ref. Then he will steal your ball and run away. Don’t trust him.

  6. Buccaneer says:

    Someone tell Pocock it’s the violence of his mates on the left that makes his vision totally unworkable.

  7. NFA says:

    The Lobbyist Register

    Please note that this information has been provided to the Attorney-General’s Department by external sources and is not intended for any purpose other than in connection with the Register of Lobbyists.

  8. SydGal says:

    Recent Guardian story re JP NPC Speech:
    ‘Price took issue with the fact that the proposed constitutional amendment says the voice “may make representations” to parliament and executive government about matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. She claimed it meant the voice would “be more like a lobby group” that would act “only in the interests of its clients, not the interests of the government, the parliament or even the nation”.
    “However the legal advice of federal solicitor general Stephen Donaghue, released months ago in April, said the voice’s representations would have to be on matters with a “sufficient connection” to Indigenous people, and not an “insubstantial, tenuous or distant” connection.”
    But how can that be under the laws of general application as highlighted by LC?
    and “The advice said the voice would not impose any obligations upon the executive to follow the voice’s representations, or consult with the voice before making decisions, and that the voice would also have no power of veto over parliament decisions.” …
    “Donaghue’s legal advice goes on to state the voice’s power to make representations to executive government “does not impose any reciprocal requirement upon the Executive Government to consider or otherwise address those representations” – and that the proposed constitutional amendment gives parliament the power to set the legal weight of the voice’s representations. “The influence of the Voice’s representations to the Parliament will be a matter to be determined by political considerations, rather than legal considerations,”
    he wrote. So why did FB refer to no formal legal advice? Was the SG to ask for legal advice from the Heads of Govt Depts?

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