Many knew this was coming

By April 4, 2023Australian Politics

Ever since Peter Dutton kept rabbiting on about needing more detail on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament1, many know he has been simply looking for an excuse to oppose the Voice after the National Party decided to oppose it, despite some members indicating they will support it2.

Julian Leeser, the shadow attorney-general, spoke at the National Press Club on Monday (April 3) and called for changes that have already been rejected by Indigenous leaders. He claimed this “clause is ultimately the lead in the saddlebag of a successful referendum,” and insisting he wanted to see the voice succeed, but that the referendum should be delayed. Rachel Withers has hit the nail on the head in saying that “Leeser is the lead in the saddlebag of the referendum, the man putting a smiling, ‘pro-voice’ face on the ‘No’ campaign”3.

However, perhaps the most appallingly disingenuous drivel from Leeser was when he said: “Why would you want to risk the social and racial harmony of the country, a reconciliation process, by putting a referendum whose success is not guaranteed? I think that is a reflection that the prime minister needs to seriously think about. I think the first thing to say is that we shouldn’t put a referendum if it is in any danger of failure, that’s the first thing. The government should not put the country through this.”4

This sort of verbal excrement is in part what has delivered the Liberal Party into its current precipitous decline. There is one way that the referendum can get up, and that is for the Liberal Party to support it. For Leeser to put the onus on the government to alter the wording to make it unacceptable to Indigenous leaders or to delay its being put to the Australian people, is solely to muddy the waters, and is purely for political purposes. It is to make it as difficult as possible to get the Voice to Parliament up and running so the opposition can point the finger at the government and scream ‘incompetence’ (pot, kettle, black). 

This may all be moot, as there is a growing clamour within the Liberal Party for a conscience vote, which may torpedo any attempt to oppose the Voice as a bloc. If that clamour is denied, I suspect there will be some who will support the Voice anyway, something that will perhaps increase the rate of decline of the Liberal Party.

Update: After a party meeting today, the Liberal Party said that they will formally oppose the Voice to Parliament. Surprise, surprise.



One Comment

  • Arthur Baker says:

    Leeser’s speech is partially “verbal excrement” (“risk the social and racial harmony of the country”). So-called “Liberals” couldn’t give a shit about social and racial harmony, they thrive on divisiveness as long as they can command a majority, their only real concern being to hold onto political power when they have it, or wrench it back when they don’t.

    But Leeser’s speech also (unbelievably, perhaps accidentally) includes some good sense as regards political strategy. The Voice referendum is currently scoring about 60% support (and allegedly rising since Dutton’s decision to go with a big NO), but although that’s an obvious national majority, it’s looking risky as a referendum success. Wikipedia tells me there was an instance back in 1977 when a referendum supported 62.22% nationally bombed because it failed to attract a majority in three of the six states.

    This is always the risk in referenda. You might need 65%, or two-thirds, or even 70% national support to get it through at least 4 of the 6 states.

    But the Albanese government could legislate the Voice NEXT WEEK, with 100% guarantee of success in both houses with crossbench support. No risk of failure.

    So legislating it doesn’t make a constitutional change. Big deal. What it does do is say to the next so-called “Liberal” PM, whoever that is (and it WILL be someone savvier than Dutton), you try reversing that legislation buddy, and see where it takes you long-term – into oblivion. It’s the perfect political wedge.

    Why in the name of all that’s holy would anyone risk a referendum loss, with its concomitant dismissal of the issue for at least a generation and possibly for ever (like the 1999 Republic fiasco), when you could legislate the Voice to be up and running NEXT WEEK, have it running and doing good work for years, and wedge the so-called Liberals into leaving it as it is even when they do eventually hoodwink the voters into putting them back into government?

    For me, it’s a no-brainer.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.