Many welfare concerns

Last week the legislation for the vote on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament passed the Senate.

Australia is now set to vote on the proposed changes to the Constitution by the end of the year.

The campaign for both the Yes and No vote hasn’t even started and yet we are already seeing our communities being divided.

We also still have limited information as to what the Voice will actually do, who will be on it, how they will be elected and what actual benefit it will deliver to at risk Indigenous communities that cannot be delivered through our existing systems.

Rather than being upfront with the Australian community, Anthony Albanese has instead created a vacuum of information about the Voice – relying more on motherhood statements than actual facts and merits.

He has now created a “crash or crash through” strategy that, no matter who wins, there will be irreparable division and damage caused to our communities, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

It looks likely the vote will come down to a 50 / 50 split which means that half the population will be left disappointed no matter the result.

The sad fact is – it did not need to be this way.

The original proposal for Indigenous recognition under the Federal Constitution included two parts:

1. Do you support the recognition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of Australia?

2. Do you support an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the Constitution?

The first question who have received an overwhelming large majority support – similar to the 1967 referendum which enshrined Indigenous rights under the Constitution.

The second question might have won – but if it lost – there was still a fall-back position.

There is also the ability for the Federal Parliament to pass legislation for the Voice tomorrow without having to change the Constitution.

A smart play would be to establish the Voice in Federal Parliament, iron out the process and systems and if appropriate then run a campaign based on demonstrated success to amend the Constitution.

Then at least people would know what they are voting for.

But the question that the Australian public must now answer is a combined question which includes: “In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of Australia should there be an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice which can provide representations direct to the Federal Parliament?”.

This means that the only way that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can be recognised under the proposed changes to the Constitution is through the Voice.

The details on the Voice are so scarce, even Anthony Albanese doesn’t know how it will work.

Instead, he has asked Australians to simply trust him with the most significant change to our Constitution and democracy since Federation.

I hope he does a better job on the Voice than he has with power prices, cost of living pressures and inflation.

He could have also taken a bipartisan approach and taken caution using at risk Indigenous communities as political footballs.

Instead, he has decided to play Russian roulette with the consequences to be felt long after he has left office.