Being gluten and lactose intolerant and having irritable bowel syndrome can make going out to eat a bit more challenging. I remember at a school reunion last year, they’d organised pizzas, but I couldn’t have any. If I know a food contains gluten, I have to go without and it’s better to pass up that piece of cake because it may be labelled “Low Gluten” to cover the baker against accidental cross-contamination, than to get sick.
The same logic cannot be applied to voting against the Voice to Parliament, especially when a member of the party that is saying No is on the same side as those muddying the waters. We saw the deliberate lies told by the Conservatives during the Marriage Equality Debate, where a woman said that her son was told he could wear a dress to school, when the reality was not that the principal stood up on assembly and said, “Right, boys are permitted to wear dresses to school,” rather, to raise money for girls to go to school in Africa, boys could come to school in a dress on one day of the school year and bring a coin donation. It was like when I was in Year Nine and the Friday before the Easter Holidays, we were told that we could come to school out of uniform and pay a “fine” which would be used to help raise money for something at the school. Then, we saw the gutter nonsense from the likes of the hysterical conservatives that it would lead to bestiality.
Now, in this debate, we have seen the histrionic, hysterical nonsense from opponents claiming that people will be forced to pay rent and that if you buy a house without a pool and you want to have one that you’ll need an Indigenous adviser to come and ensure that you won’t be disturbing a sacred site. Then, there was the preposterous lie that you’ll wake up one morning to find two Indigenous Australians standing on your doorstep telling you that they were repossessing your house and were going to demolish it! If a developer is interested in buying your property to demolish it and build a shopping centre or block of units, you do not have to sell. If your neighbours wish to sell, and do so, the developer can build around you. If the government wishes to resume your property to run a road through, you have to accept it, but the government will compensate you. I knew of a man who was a small-scale farmer, who, after the government resumed his property, had enough to buy a mansion on the other side of town and he was laughing. There are reasonable requests to be able to restrict access to public places, such as Uluru. Non-Indigenous Australians, and tourists alike can still visit Uluru, they can photograph it, they can walk around it at a distance, but they are not permitted to touch it or climb it. A ridiculous right-wing senator opposed this and made a prize fool of herself climbing Uluru and becoming stuck and needed to be rescued!
There have been claims that the Voice will create apartheid. When one considers what apartheid was like in South Africa, whether or not you could use a certain public facility was determined by the colour of your skin. Under apartheid in South Africa, a black person and a white person could not marry. During Australia’s Stolen Generation, and indeed prior to that, despite John Howard’s denials of genocide, Australia may not have had the same policies of the Holocaust, but they poisoned the waterholes of Indigenous Australians, distributed tuberculosis-infected blankets to them, and had a policy of breeding out Aboriginality, whereby, say, a European Australian stockman had married an Aboriginal woman employed as a domestic, and they had a child, that child, when it reached adulthood, was pushed or encouraged to marry a European Australian, and if they had a child, that child would be pushed or encouraged to marry a European Australian, with the aim of breeding it out. No Indigenous Australian who supports it has said that they wish to ban marriage between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
The Liberal Party frequently trots out the line that it was the party that abolished the White Australia Policy. That is an oversimplification. The one thing that all parties agreed upon was that immigration from non-European countries was not wanted. Asian people were allowed to enter Australia; indeed, Japanese businessmen were permitted to enter on five-year contracts. There were some exemptions to the White Australia Policy for people such as cooks, and the Banana Industry in North Queensland was started by the Chinese. And yes, a Chinese man born in Australia who wanted to bring a woman over here to marry her, could have an exemption. Harold Holt granted the Japanese wives of Australian BCOF Ex-Servicemen an exemption from the Dictation Test, in 1952, and six years later, the Liberal Party abolished the Dictation Test itself. The Liberal Party made it easier, but not easy for Asians to enter Australia, but it was the Labor Party that abolished the White Australia Policy officially. Yet, the Liberal Party is the party that promotes bigotry in modern Australia. John Howard, who has also said that he will vote no, challenged Malcolm Fraser when he said that we would be accepting refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, who arrived by boat. During Howard’s first term, he was silent regarding Hanson, before he went to the opposite extreme, saying that she was “bordering on the deranged,” only to, in the second term of his government, adopt her refugee policies. John Howard is proof that the Liberal Party has not shaken off racism.
We need to have a treaty with the First Nations Australians, but what is more important is not to listen to the nonsense from Cash that if you’re unsure, vote no. If you’re unsure, ask questions, but what is most important is to question the motive of someone who is opposed to the Voice and if their motive is to muddy the waters, don’t follow them. After all, the implications of passing up cheesecake because it might contain gluten are not as serious as denying Indigenous Australians the right to have their concerns heard, validated and acted upon.