A leading international human rights lawyer says Australia will not be able to criticize Muslim re-education camps in China if the No vote wins in the next Voice referendum.
Geoffrey Robertson KC, an Australian-born lawyer based in London, compared Australia’s treatment of Aboriginal people to the detention of Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang province.
While opinion polls show the Yes vote is in trouble, Mr Robertson also suggested a No vote on October 14 would destroy Australia’s international reputation and make it harder for former Australian politicians to gain access to elite positions at the head of global organizations.
In a opinion article Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Robertson, who appeared on panels with fellow human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, suggested Australia would lose the authority to speak out on human rights issues. man if the no vote prevailed.
“They should not underestimate the toxicity that attaches to people linked, even inadvertently, to racism,” he said.
Geoffrey Robertson KC, an Australian-born lawyer (pictured right with Amal Clooney) based in London, compared Australia’s treatment of Aboriginal people to the detention of Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang province.
“It will tarnish Australians if this referendum, now publicized around the world, is not successful.
“It will open Australia to accusations of hypocrisy when its government complains about China’s discrimination against Uyghurs, and it will undermine the important efforts we are making to be a force for good in the Pacific.”
Mr Robertson KC’s essay angered several readers, with one critic pointing out that China’s attempt to eliminate the religion and culture of the Uighurs was not comparable to the disadvantage suffered by indigenous people in Australia.
“Chinese genocide does not equate to Australian racism.”
A Yes voter was also outraged. “Yes, voter, but it’s completely unfair to compare China’s situation with ours. Sorry, this will only encourage No voters.
One critic pointed out that China was actively oppressing the Uyghur minority, while Australia was trying to improve the living standards of the Aborigines.
“China’s current discrimination (more detention and torture than just discrimination) against Uighurs is not at all the same as the current experiences of Indigenous Australians,” this reader said.
“You cannot confuse past actions, which are acknowledged, with something that is currently happening and is denied by the perpetrators.”
Another reader wondered why concerns about Australia’s international reputation should decide how people vote next month.
“What a strange thing to base a vote on that can change the overall legal document that governs a nation. Global perceptions of racism,” one man said.
But one reader agreed that a no vote would make Australia look racist, comparing it to the election of Donald Trump as US president and the UK’s Brexit vote, both in 2016 .
‘Absolutely. People who actually care about our reputation overseas already know that Australians are seen as racist and unintelligent,” the reader said.
“By voting no, we will only reinforce this idea. We align with Trump voters and Brexit supporters.
Mr Robertson, who was previously married to author Kathy Lette after dating media personality Nigella Lawson, also suggested an unsuccessful vote would make it harder for Australians to secure leadership roles in international bodies.
The lawyer, who hosted the television show Hypotheticals in Australia in the 1980s, referred to former Liberal finance minister Mathias Cormann who would become secretary-general of the OECD in 2021.
“Ironically, Australia will have to significantly lower its voice in the international community, and this will harm the chances of Australian applicants for international positions if they come from a country perceived as unfair to its indigenous peoples,” Ms. .Robertson. .
He compared Australia’s treatment of Aboriginal people to the detention of Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang province (pictured, a camp in Lop County).
The lawyer, who hosted the television show Hypotheticals in Australia in the 1980s, referred to former Liberal finance minister Mathias Cormann (pictured) who would become secretary-general of the OECD in 2021.
“I doubt that Mathias Cormann would have been appointed to the OECD if his candidacy had come following a referendum defeat of The Voice.”
A Resolve Strategic poll published this month in Nine Newspapers showed No leading 57 per cent to 43 per cent, with support for The Voice now lagging in New South Wales and Victoria.
Only Tasmania obtained a majority in favor of Yes.
If these results were replicated in the referendum, the Voice would fail with a majority of votes required nationally as well as a majority of votes in four out of six states.