This Is Not Democracy
An open letter to the Prime Minister of Australia, the Parliament and to those who might be looking for ideas to rectify this sorry mess.
Please share widely.
I'll make it clear first. I voted Yes. It was the only right thing to do, but from the beginning, I felt this referendum was the Labor Party's "plebiscite moment." I had hoped that the majority of Australians would have the sense and compassion to vote yes, like they did for the gay marriage plebiscite. That poll was 62% of Australians voting for the bigots and haters to MIND THEIR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS! It was also a vote for Parliament to do their very overpaid jobs.
This was worse than Labor’s plebiscite moment, this was a disaster. Anthony Albanese PM should "throw himself on his sword" and call a spill for the party leadership. Unlike the gay marriage postal survey, Australians didn’t vote for decency, they voted for cowardice. They didn’t vote for justice, they voted selfishly and from a place worse than fear - a position most Australians would call “gutless.” Yet most Australians proved themselves gutless. (Kudos, ACT, but the rest of this nation? Well...)
Let me explain, my heritage, before I explain my anger and where the fight should go next.
I’m white, I have no indigenous heritage, yet still I support the traditional owners of this land. Because that is what we should do. We who are not of indigenous heritage, not of the first nations, not a traditional owner, are descended from colonial thieves, or were invited invited here by those descended from thieves. We are invaders. When the first fleet landed at Botany Bay, they began an invasion, an undeclared war. Like Russia marching into Ukraine, only with the whole "civilised world" turning a blind eye to terra nullius.
White Australia, supposedly my people, supposedly the people of a “fair go” (Hah!), acquired this land illegally when, 200 years ago, terra nullius, literally "uninhabited land," was required before one could occupy such new lands. The English invaders lied to the King and Parliament, and when the lie was uncovered, everybody treated the first nations like vermin and tried to create terra nullius with the gun and disease. Dawn raids and eugenic policies. In the Barwon region, for example, just west of Melbourne, there are historical reports of “troopers” burying babies up to their necks and kicking their heads off, repleat with artists' impressions of the event.
We’re lucky surviving indigenous people don’t murder us in our beds. However, they don’t because they’re better than us. They're negotiators, staunch and fierce, yes, but they’d rather find a peaceful solution. Treaty, maybe. But still, white Australia, like miserable cur dogs, chose to say, "No, we won't recognise traditional ownership or the first nations." On referendum night, I realised I don't like "my" people. I disown white Australia - the no voters can piss in a bucket and drink it.
OK, I'm calming down... for now...
The Federal Discrimination Act’s very existence says they are covered by the Constitution of the Commenwealth of Australia. The “Legality Principle” of constitutional law in Australia says that the constitution can only be applied in so far as the application is lawful. For the application of the constitution to be lawful, recognition of the first nations as people of this land could have been done by a legislative amendment to the Federal Discrimination Act. The Federal Discrimination Act, AS IT STANDS, could be probably be proven in a court that any non-recognition of indigenous Australians is an unlawful application of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia. The legislative of these two options would be preferable of these two options, because it would be clarification that makes the application of the constitution valid for all Australians.
Not easy, but not hard, and courageous. It would be a moment like Whitlam pouring sand through Vincent Lingiari's hand to symbolise recognition land rights. like Keating admitting the truth of the "stolen generations." Like Rudd apologising for Australia's bloody colonial past. Albanese has achieved as gutless an act as Howard refusing to apologise.
Had Anthony Albanese, Prime Minister, had the brains and courage, he could have taken that course. That would have been justice and law done right. Prove it in a case before the High Court, then legislate an amendment to the Federal Discrimination Act, so that it expressly makes non-recognition of indigenous ownership illegal. That's how Westminster style constitutional law works.
To change the constitution you have to get a majority vote of the people, in a majority of the states, to get approval for the amendment. To alter the application of the constitution, you can make ordinary Parliamentary law that makes a particular application of the constitution unlawful, or prove it, in a court, to be unlawful by using existing legislation. To call a referendum was political cowardice. "Albo" is a coward. Labor, once a proud social justice party, have become corwards.
And, once again, the gutless pricks who sponge off our taxes, failed to do their jobs. They went to the people with a "democratic vote" to decide, effectively, if "indigenous people had human rights." Cowardly, lazy, miserly and fascistic. "Two-side-ism" a friend calls it. There aren't two sides to this argument. Indigenous people were here first, the colonists were ordered here illegally and, if the traditional owners aren't recognised, the Federal Discrimination Act makes that lack of recognition of indigenous people an unlawful application of the constitution.
A simple amendment to the Federal Discrimination Act could clarify this in a trice. Then we can move on to Treaty.
Jesus! The ONLY solution to this is for the various, united indigenous groups and nations to bring a case in the Federal Court, using the Federal Discrimination Act makes the only valid application of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia one which recognises indigenous people as the first people and then go straight to demand Treaty and Reparations.
Crunchysteve is a retired broadcast audio producer, was once a pub musician, the foundation president of Bicycle Tasmania, has never forgiven Bicycle Network for the demise of Bicycle Tasmania, identifies as neuro diverse and enm-quasiqueer, rides a bicycle and eats a low meat diet for the planet as well as for pleasure, and identifies politically as a social anarchist. He has been married twice, has 3 intelligent, beautiful, successful, feminist daughters from his first marriage and, with his current partner, proudly stands with indigenous Australians for treaty.