Prominent Indigenous leader and politician Pat Dodson says a no result in the “Voices to Parliament” referendum would set the country back.
- Senator Pat Dodson has taken a leave of absence from Parliament after being diagnosed with cancer.
- Senator Dodson has been called “the father of reconciliation” and is a strong Yes supporter.
- He says he is saddened by the debate on Voice so far and hopes the country votes Yes, not “backwards”.
The Western Australian Labor senator has been absent from the Yes campaign and politics after being diagnosed with cancer.
In conversation with political journalist Anna Henderson today, Senator Dodson said the day after the referendum Australians will “look in the mirror” and ask themselves about the result: “What impact will this have? have on your children and yourself in the future?
“Are we going to go back in time? The police will continue to do the same thing? Are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people going to be at the table or picking up the crumbs? Like we have for the last 200 years “, did he declare.
Senator Dodson, who is also the Government’s Special Envoy for the Implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, has a long history of working on Indigenous reconciliation.
Three days after the final referendum call, Senator Dodson said the country needed change.
“We need an effective voice in Parliament, we need to be recognized as first people,” he said.
On the proposed amendment to the constitution which would see First Nations people recognized in the document, the senator said: “You can’t live in your own country and not be recognized. »
“Colonization has consequences”: Dodson
Commenting on the continued misinformation and sometimes racism the country witnessed throughout the Voice debate, the senator said “the nation is mired in division here.”
“He is stuck in a divisive position and that does not bode well for our nation. The No campaign would have achieved that,” he said.
“It saddens me that division and acrimony have crept into the debate. What worries me even more is that this goes to the very fabric of our civil interactions as a democratic nation.
“It’s not just about the Indigenous referendum. It’s about the nature of our civic society.
“It would open up a scar around the ground that we thought we were trying to address (with) the apology, the advances at the High Court and at Mabo and Wik.”
Targeting in particular disinformation about the Voice distributed on social networks: “We can say anything, it is considered true, of value, there is no weighting of the arguments, no real analysis of the arguments, no historical dimension, no acceptance of arguments.” history, no recognition of the legacy that history has created.
“Colonization has consequences.”
Price’s comments still resonate with Press Club
Henderson forwarded to the senator comments from Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, made from her own speech to the Press Club. Jacinta Price had said there was no ongoing negative impact of colonization on First Nations Australians.
Senator Dodson highlighted a number of issues he believes his people face on a daily basis.
“I look at the severe social dislocation on many social indicators that Aboriginal people find themselves in right now,” he said.
“If we were in the promised land, which a mob wants to suggest we are in, why do we have such high suicide rates? Why have so many of our children been taken and placed outside of our homes?
“Why is there so much domestic violence and internal violence? Why do we live in poverty? Why do we still suffer from mental health problems? Why are our children victims of drugs and alcohol, you know, the opportunities that society offers.”
Senator Price’s comments have upset many First Nations people, with several experts refuting his comments entirely.
At the Press Club last week, former Western Australia High Court chief justice Robert French dismissed concerns the Voice was legally risky. Today, Senator Dodson did the same: “There is nothing to fear here, only good to come out of this.”
More than 70 constitutional and public law professors have signed a letter saying Voice to Parliament “is not constitutionally risky” in a bid to combat “misunderstandings and misconceptions” among Australian voters.
Asked about polls published in the media suggesting a No victory in the run-up to the referendum, Senator Dodson said the only poll he was concerned about was the one “coming out of the polls”.