Wiradjuri elder ‘Riverbank Frank’ Doolan said he would vote no in the referendum on the indigenous voice in parliament because he feels it creates racial division.
The respected community leader and poet, who lives in a caravan on the banks of the Macquarie River on the outskirts of Dubbo in central New South Wales, said he believed the change would create a divide between Indigenous communities and Australia as a whole.
Australians will be asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on October 14 on whether they wish to enshrine in the Constitution an Indigenous body, which must be consulted on all proposed legislation affecting Indigenous peoples and the Strait Islands. Torres.
Mr Doolan told journalist Hugh Riminton this week: “Amending the constitution on racial lines is repugnant to me.”
He sent Riminton a follow-up message saying he had no intention of “sparking controversy” and that he had “no animosity toward yes voters,” Indigenous or otherwise.
“I love my people and I love their right to vote as they see fit. I’m just a black man with an opinion. Respect, tolerance, peace,” he wrote.
Indigenous elder ‘Riverbank Frank’ Doolan revealed he would vote no in the referendum on Indigenous voice in Parliament, saying he believed the change would be divisive.
Riminton’s post on X, formerly Twitter, sparked a flood of comments.
“I meet some Aborigines here who say ‘No’,” wrote one person from the Northern Territory.
“Some people want a treaty first. Some simply no. But many others absolutely want “Yes”. There are four land councils in the Northwest Territories, which represent 30 percent of the Aboriginal Territories. All four support The Voice,” they said.
Riminton agreed, saying most of the natives he spoke to about Voice intended to support him in the Oct. 14 ballot.
“From the hard and enthusiastic “Yes” to the “meh, yes”. The ‘no’s tend to boil down to either ‘it won’t make a difference’ or ‘it’s just a damn advisory body – we need to do better than that!’
Mr Doolan previously told the Western Herald, the local newspaper in Bourke where he was originally from before moving to Dubbo, that the Voice sounded like a new version of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) to him. ) – the former Aboriginal representative body. people who was abolished.
“None of us know much about the Voice in Parliament, but what is suggested and offered with an almighty panache that makes us believe they are doing something magnificent for Australia, is a version revamped from ATSIC,” he said.
“As an indigenous person, I reject the government’s assertion that we need another voice to understand and hear indigenous peoples,” Mr Doolan said.
“They’ve known about aboriginal people since the days of Whitlam, when we had our first minister of aboriginal affairs.”
Mr Doolan, who lives in a caravan on the outskirts of Dubbo (left), sent a follow-up text message to Riminton further explaining his views (right)
Wiradjuri elder ‘Riverbank Frank’ Doolan explained why he is voting no on Indigenous Voice in Parliament
Opposition to the indigenous voice in parliament has now become a majority, according to a new poll.
A Newspoll poll, conducted for The Australian, showed support for constitutional change fell to 38 per cent, while support for “no” rose to 53 per cent.
Back-to-back polls have shown support for this voice declining.
Success will require a majority of voters and a majority of states voting yes.
Despite the results of the polls, the Minister of Employment, Tony Burke, said he was confident in the success of the referendum.
“(Opposition Leader) Peter Dutton also underestimated the goodwill of a lot of Liberal voters here,” he told ABC radio on Monday.
“There is a generosity in the Australian people and as people get closer to the date, focus their minds, consider the proposal, we see something where there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Mr. Dutton confirmed that if this referendum fails, he would organize a second plebiscite proposing the formal recognition of indigenous peoples in the Constitution, but without the advisory role of Voice.
“Yes, I strongly believe it’s the right thing to do,” he told Sky News.
“But putting a voice in the constitution is divisive.”
Opposition leader Peter Dutton (pictured center with Jacinta Nampijinpa Price) said he would hold another referendum to recognize First Nations Australians in the Constitution, but left out Voice
Under the Labor Party’s plan, which follows the Heart of Uluru Declaration, the Voice would be able to advise Parliament and the Executive Government on issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Mr Dutton again argued that the Voice would “split the country in two” and fail to deliver practical results for Indigenous Australians.
Megan Davis, an indigenous activist who has been a prominent supporter of The Voice, said indigenous peoples would not accept the powerless constitutional recognition offered by Mr Dutton.
“There is unity among Australians on this point: there is no point in having a referendum if it does not change the daily lives of First Nations people,” Professor Davis, one of the architects, said on Sunday. of the Uluru Declaration. .
“There is no evidence in the world that a statement of recognition (alone) changes anything.”
Kirstie Parker, strategic adviser to Uluru Dialogue, said Mr Dutton’s comments showed he was not listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the majority of whom favor The Voice according to YouGov polls and Ipsos conducted earlier this year.
“Some people have said the referendum was an expensive exercise and yet here we have an opposition proposing to spend the same amount of money on something that will not change lives,” Ms Parker said.
The Uluru Dialogue – the organization dedicated to advancing the Uluru Declaration – will continue to fight this phenomenon through “face-to-face discussions” with Australians, Prof Davis said.
The Yes and No campaigns are intensifying as the October referendum approaches.
National Leader David Littleproud on Sunday backed his Liberal counterpart, Mr Dutton, saying the referendum would be passed “brilliantly” if the Voice’s reach was more defined and limited.
“If this falls on October 14, I urge my leaders to restart a process to ensure that we achieve constitutional recognition,” he told the Nine’s Weekend Today program.
The “Yes” campaign announced on Sunday that it had obtained permission to use John Farnham’s famous song, “You’re the Voice”.
Asked if he thought Farnham’s support would make a difference to the ‘Yes’ campaign, Mr Littleproud said Australians don’t understand what a voice in parliament means.
“The phrase ‘You are the Voice, try to understand it’ is important,” he said.
“The Prime Minister may want to think about that a bit today.”
The success of the referendum depends on majority support across the country and in four of Australia’s six states.
The referendum question is as follows: “A Bill: to amend the Constitution to recognize Australia’s original peoples by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice. Do you approve of this proposed change?
If successful, the government will design the specific form of the vote, which will be implemented via legislation debated and passed by the federal parliament.