Queensland and South Australia have already enacted treaty enabling legislation which will create unprecedented, monstrous, elitist, black bureaucracies funded from rent paid by white landowners across the nation. Football followers and players around Australia were horrified when the National Rugby League elitist board had two bob’s worth backing the Voice.

By Nicolle Flint

Federal and state government proposals for poorly-defined “Voices” and “Treaties” are not the only forms of Indigenous recognition currently being considered by our Parliaments. 

There is a far more detailed proposal under examination by the Joint Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs that could have serious ramifications for our democracy: the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Declaration contains 46 Articles, which set out specific rights the United Nations think any country with an Indigenous population should adopt and enshrine in law. 

These include an Indigenous “right to self-determination”, including “political status”, “autonomy or self-government”, their own “decision-making institutions” and “the right to a nationality” (Articles 3, 4, 6 & 18). 

The Declaration also says “Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions” while separately exercising their rights in “the State” if they “choose” (Article 5). 

Additionally, “the State” must consult with Indigenous representative institutions “in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them” (Article 19).

Now, many Australians would consider that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians already have all of these rights.

Every single Australian has the right to contact their MP or Senators and put their view about absolutely any issue concerning them. 

Federal Parliament has eleven elected Indigenous Senators and MPs who represent Labor, Liberal, Nationals, Greens and Independent political views. 

Australia-wide there are Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate, Land Councils, Registered Aboriginal Parties, and the “Coalition of Peaks” – a group of community-controlled peak organisations who formally represent the interests of Indigenous Australians in the Closing the Gap Agreement.

All of these groups advise and interact with government and business.

At state and federal government levels there are departments and dozens of agencies for Indigenous Australians, and total government spending on Indigenous affairs is estimated at about $35 billion a year.    

So why, then, does Australia need to legislate to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and what would it mean for our nation? 

What it appears it would mean on a radical interpretation is a separate Indigenous nation, separate Indigenous government, and separate Indigenous rules and systems for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

It would also mean that just like the ALP Voice, the federal government would have to consult on literally every single law it wanted to pass before doing so.

Of greatest concern, however, is what this would mean for Indigenous Australians who want to live and work and enjoy equality, rights and freedoms like any other Australian.

Would they be able to opt out of a completely separate nation?

How would that work in a practical sense?

The arguments against the Voice as proposed by the ALP government are the same that should be applied to legislating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

There are the practical reasons; the enormous cost to establish fundamental changes to our Constitution and political systems, the significant annual running costs of vast new bureaucracies to support the changes, the amount of time before new bodies were up and running before they could actually get to work to support Indigenous Australians, the difficulty in deciding how many Indigenous representatives would be elected (the Voice proposal suggested just 24 to represent some 500 different tribes), the threat to the very operation of government in Australia, and the corruption of the concept of equality before the law.

What is most infuriating about these debates is the shift of energy, focus and funding from practical outcomes agreed in the Closing the Gap Agreement.

These practical outcomes include increasing Indigenous life-expectancy, increasing the percentage of babies born with a healthy birth weight, increasing the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in early childhood education, getting more kids to finish Year 12, getting 15-24 year olds into study or a job, and for over-25s getting 62 per cent of Indigenous Australians into employment.

There are further specific targets on housing, incarceration, out-of-home care for children, domestic violence against women and children, suicide, land rights, language and digital literacy.

These are the issues that should be our foremost national priority. 

As such, we must ask will the time and cost required to establish “Voices”, “Treaties”, or legislating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples fix these heartbreaking issues any sooner?

Will Aboriginal men, women or children be happier, healthier and safer?

The answer can only be no, which is why we should vote no to the ALP Voice, and any proposal to legislate the UN Declaration, and instead demand state and federal governments actually deliver the outcomes agreed in Closing the Gap. 

Under the present Voice proposal there is no obvious, tangible benefit to any members of remote Aboriginal communities.