Letters to the Editor: June 23

Voice ‘myths’

WE are very concerned that conservative politicians in this region are misrepresenting the purpose and scope of the Voice.

For example, conservative politicians have recently stated that their constituents “feel the government does not trust them with information about the Voice”.

However, access to information regarding the Voice is readily available.

For example, the Indigenous Voice Co-design Process Final Report outlines what the legislation could look like following a majority voting ‘yes’ in the Referendum. This can easily be Googled by their staff if they lack the skills to Google it for themselves.

There are also many myths about the history of the Voice which need dispelling.

These include the myth that the Voice is an Australian Labor Party initiative.

In fact, it was Tony Abbott in 2014 who began consultations with our Indigenous people in an attempt to improve their lives. This initiative supported by successive LNP Prime Ministers as well as opposition leaders ultimately led to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the upcoming referendum.

Another myth is that the Voice will amount to a third chamber of Parliament as well as give Indigenous people special rights.

In fact, firstly, the Voice will be a representative body advising Parliament as opposed to being in the Parliament. Secondly, the government has been advised by the Constitutional Expert group comprising nine experts including former High Court judge Kenneth Hayne and chaired by the Commonwealth Attorney-General that a First nations Voice will not give First nations Peoples special rights.

Our Solicitor-General has also said the Voice will only serve to enhance our Constitution.

Thirdly, all Australians have the right to make representations to Parliament due to constitutional implied Freedom of Political Communication.

Although it is widely touted by conservative politicians that the Voice will be a lawyer’s picnic leading to lots of High Court challenges, the facts are that the separation of powers principle underpinning the Westminster system of government means Parliament and the judiciary are separate institutions.

Finally, regarding questions about the need to enshrine the Voice in the Constitution, the electorate needs to know that if it is not included in the Constitution, it can abolish or rescind/remove at the whim of another government. For example, other Indigenous advisory bodies like ATSIC were abolished by other governments. In contrast, if the Voice is included in the Constitution, it can only be changed by another referendum, which gives it security and longevity.

While it is true that a few very high profile Indigenous elites (such as Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, Warren Mundine and Lidia Thorpe) do not support the Voice, the truth is that an IPSOS poll conducted in January 2023 found that 80 per cent of First Nations peoples support the Voice.

Therefore, conservative politicians should not continue to misrepresent the truth about what the majority of Indigenous Australians think.

There are also those who believe the Voice will not help to close the gap or have a positive impact on the lives of Indigenous people.

However, as the Voice will provide advice to the Parliament only on those laws affecting First Nations peoples, Parliament will be better-informed about the impact of the proposed laws on First Nations peoples, logically leading to better control over their lives and outcomes.

Hopefully the Australian nation will see the Voice for what it really is … a mechanism to enable our First Nations people to finally be included in government decisions which impact directly on them.

This initiative can only lead to improved policy making for our first Nations Peoples.

Susan Casey (Carrajung Lower)

Jillian Carroll (Heyfield)

Rosemary Dunworth (Heyfield)

 

Path to reconcilliation

THE weekend of June 3 marked the last day of Reconciliation Week, with the theme ‘Be a Voice for Generations’.

It was wonderful to see what looked like memorial wreaths adorned with the Aboriginal flag laid at the McMillan cairns in Sale and Rosedale as an obvious thought provoking act of reconciliation. The cairns are a painful reminder to the Gunaikurnai people of atrocities inflicted upon their ancestors.

As we participate in truth telling, it’s important to reflect on our nation’s history and acknowledge the painful experiences endured by the Gunaikurnai people. Whoever was responsible for laying the wreaths are clearly recognising and reconciling with the truth in a solemn, respectful manner.

Reconciliation is both complex and ongoing and acts of empathy like this play a pivotal role in building bridges within divided communities.

The simple act of wreath laying demonstrates a powerful display of acknowledging past wrongs, expressing remorse and embracing the principles of reconciliation. It is through small symbolic acts like this that a future built on mutual understanding, empathy and justice can be nurtured.

To whoever was responsible, the action did not go unnoticed.

Leanne Flaherty

Sale

 

Labor’s insulting game of dodgeball

REGIONAL Victorians are still reeling from a brutal State Budget, with agriculture, roads and health funding all slashed.

Labor is making life tougher and deserves to face the blowtorch.

Yet with so many unanswered questions, Labor remains largely silent, even as the Public Accounts and Estimates Hearing unfolds.

PAEC (Public Accounts and Estimates Committee) should be the ideal platform for Victorians to get straight answers to hard questions.

The process is designed to flush out the devil in the detail. Victorians need to hear the reasoning behind budget cuts as they continue to pay for Labor’s incompetence.

It comes less than a fortnight after the budget is delivered. The timing is ideal to get to the bottom of what is happening to taxpayer’s money.

Instead, a procession of government Ministers have dodged questions and wasted time by purposely drifting away from the issues at hand.

Time after time, the responses have lacked detail and substance. The clock runs down in Labor’s game of dodgeball.

It comes as Labor has cut $1 billion from the health system after slashing $2 billion in last year’s budget despite the system being in crisis.

Our roads system is crumbling, yet Labor has cut maintenance funding by 45 per cent since 2020, with $260 million slashed this year alone.

And regional development funding has been halved to $106.6 million in the brutal Budget, with funding cut an alarming 80 per cent since 2020.

Labor, sadly, is sticking to type when all we need is answers.

The Nationals have led the fight for transparency via the Member for Gippsland South and PAEC committee member, Danny O’Brien, who has become increasingly frustrated by the process.

Mr O’Brien branded the process “a joke” last week as the government continually shut down questions about the State Budget.

No one is laughing.

There has to be a better way.

It is time Labor faced the heat and provided honest answers.

Peter Walsh

Leader of The Nationals

 

Look to the future

CONGRATULATIONS to the Labor government for their decision to stop logging our native forests.

We are quick to judge other countries for destroying theirs but forget how much we need to all decide to create other ways to live.

Many jobs have to change once we run out of natural resources – remember the panic of Y2K.

Let’s get more creative and forward thinking and stop using all our natural resources and leaving nothing for our descendants.

Hemp can replace timber, solar can replace oil, and maybe we could even plant some trees for the future.

Marg Desira

Loch Sport

 

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