ONE SMALL STEP

Sometime during 2023, a referendum will be held to determine whether constitutional provisions can be approved to create an Indigenous Voice within the process of democracy in Australia.

Its passing will not alone solve the many cultural, social and economic challenges that face Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, but it will constitute a step forward along a pathway to find solutions to some of the more significant divisions in our society.

At the annual Garma Festival held recently in the Northern Territory, Anthony Albanese announced the words that are proposed to be included in the Australian Constitution if the voters of Australia approve them.

They are –

1. There shall be a body to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

2. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to Parliament and the Executive Government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

3. The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have powers to make laws with respect to the composition, function, powers and procedures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

Consultations will be held around Australia before the final wording is put to us at the Referendum when we will vote quite simply – YES or NO.

I intend to vote YES and to publicly campaign strongly for a majority of voters to do likewise.

How did we reach this point in our history?

Except to state in the Constitution that Aborigines are a responsibility of State Governments, the Founding Fathers in 1901, ignored them.

There was a widely held belief that they were a dying race and would have no part in the future of the nation. Indeed, the indigenous population was declining at that time, but this is not now the case. The reverse is occurring. 3.5% of the population of Australia now identify as being indigenous.

At that time, New Zealand withdrew from participating in the proposed Federation as they had already signed a treaty with the Maoris at Waitangi in 1840 and made them full citizens, something that the Australian States did not ever attempt to do and were not willing to do.

To our eternal disgrace, indigenous people were not given the right to vote until 1967, when a referendum gave approval with a vote of 97% in favour.

Then, in 1992, the High Court of Australia held that native title existed for all indigenous people.

Far too many Australian Governments have believed that they could achieve peace with aboriginals by buying their goodwill with money. Although billions of dollars have been spent in this way, little has been achieved.

Then, just a few years ago, the Uluru Statement from the Heart was prepared by the most significant gathering of Indigenous people in the history of Australia and presented to the Federal Government. Malcolm Turnbull declared that the voters of Australia would never accept it. Anthony Albanese believes otherwise.

So it is that you and I will now decide.

I wont set out here the case for either YES or N0.

This will be presented to us in the official referendum documents before we vote. I will now just comment on the draft wording that the Prime Minister has presented to us for consideration.

I find it to be acceptable except for two words.

The word ‘powers’ in the second line of paragraph 3, could cause the referendum to be lost. Paragraph 2 gives the Voice power to make representations only. Paragraph 3 gives Parliament power to give more power to the Voice. In my view, this can only be done via another referendum. The word should be removed from the paragraph.

The word VOICE is a strange title to give to a constitutional entity. It would be far better to call it an ASSEMBLY. This gives it the stature it deserves and we can more readily understand what it is.

Let me make an additional comment.

Once this new body is formed, I hope that it will of its own accord reach out to every nationality now living in Australia to mutually agree of ways and means of becoming a more cohesive society. There are now more than 100 nations represented here and each could send one delegate to a gathering of goodwill organised by the Voice once every parliamentary term.

Finally, may I note with dismay that Pauline Hanson has announced that her political party will campaign for a NO vote. I had hoped that political parties would stay out of it so we can enjoy a genuine exercise in democracy that will bring us together as a nation. Sadly it wont be so. Racism will raise its ugly head and divide us.

After all, we are simply acknowledging that people whose ancient heritage of 65000 years, the longest in the history of the entire planet, should be recognised in our national constitution.

Its just a small step to take.

Everald.

PS. Buy my book DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS from my website

EVERALD@LARGE

It tells the mighty story of how our Constitution was written and approved back in 1901. Sadly it reminds us that only 20% of referendums to change or add to our Constitution have ever received the approval of voters. I hope that this one adds to the list of winners.

A NEW PARLIAMENT FOR AUSTRALIA

This weekend, 227 Members and Senators will travel to Canberra from all corners of our continent to be sworn in on Tuesday to serve in the 47th Parliament of Australia since Federation in 1901.

It will be led by the nation’s 31st Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, who as the Leader of the Labor Party, follows three conservative Prime Ministers, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison, whose tenure will not be treated by historians as kindly as they may have hoped.

Many significant changes have been promised and are expected to be implemented.

If they are not achieved satisfactorily, and begin to produce promised results, voters will react harshly in Election2025 as the people of Australia now have a low tolerance level for crude party politics and inept governments.

So, what are the priorities and which of them are the most urgent?

While I dont expect Albo to take notice of my thoughts, these are my top ten priorities and I have listed them in what I believe is their order of importance.

*HEALTH – We have massively underinvested in all aspects of health, while private health insurance has been plundered by the medical profession and allowed to descend into an unaffordable disaster.

*INFLATION – This is seriously expanding the daily struggle for existence of a growing number of Australians in more ways than any other factor. It has been mainly caused by the greed and corruption of capitalism at its very worst, with costs being faked as a excuse to generate excessive profits. This must be eliminated quickly .

*ENERGY – a costly disgrace, caused by a decade of irresponsible neglect in failing to replace ageing power sources, that is particularly severe on pensioners and low income earners.

*AGED CARE – pitiful and disgraceful. Words cant adequately describe the humiliation and misery that people are suffering in their final years for no valid reason.

*CLIMATE and ENVIRONMENT – long overdue for serious investment, plus personal changes to our own lifestyles. Climate deniers are the world’s most irresponsible people and must be sidelined.

*AFFORDABLE HOUSING – will be solved only when governments make their surplus land and airspace available long term via low cost leases.

*ULURU STATEMENT – Its time to rectify the omission of Indigenous heritage from our original Constitution in 1901. It can be delayed no longer.

*INFRASTRUCTURE – it is either ancient or inadequate or inferior or inefficient. Huge defect in our quality of national life and our level of productivity

*WATER – we are the driest continent on the planet, yet we have never ever harnessed and sustained our water resources in an intelligent manner.

*CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE – long overdue, especially reform of the size and powers of the Senate and the powers of the Crown being passed to the People of Australia,

I an attending the entire opening week of Parliament in Canberra.

Have arranged 24 appointments with Ministers, Shadow Ministers, cross benchers and back benchers from all parties and Independents. I carry out my negotiations as a swinging voter who never has and never will join a political party as I regard them as gatherings where closed minds can flourish.

My personal mission on this visit to Parliament is to take part in discussions on the Inland Railway, Gladstone Railway, Aged Care, Affordable Housing, Uluru Statement and Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation for ACT & Northern Territory. My intention is to follow up these issues relentlessly until results are achieved.

Am hopeful of positive results as the Prime Minister appears to be seriously implementing a significant agenda for change, quite different to the negativity of recent governments that sought to revive ‘good old days’ that have never existed.

Over and above all of this, I hope that dignity and decency will return to the Parliament after a long absence.

Especially, I hope that Question Time will become a place of respectful debate. At present, it projects to the nation a very divisive and angry image which fosters discourtesy in our society.

It particularly encourages school children to speak in the same way to their teachers. They are just following the poor example of our national leaders.

I yearn for the dignified tradition of Menzies and Chifley who regularly debated one another in Parliament with huge courtesy and respect, as well as making excellent use of the English language as their sauce of power.

Yours in genuine hope for a Parliament of quality and achievement.

Everald.

And don’t forget to buy signed copies of my three books from my website

EVERALD@LARGE

or online from Booktopia or Amazon or Dymocks or Fishpond etc.

Even though I say so myself, they are an entertaining read.

USA SUPREME COURT DENIES WOMEN THE RIGHT OF ABORTION AND GIVES MEN YET ANOTHER PASS TO ‘GET OUT OF JAIL FREE’

During Donald Trump’s four year term as President of the United States of America, three vacancies occurred in the ranks of the nine Justices of the Supreme Court.

He nominated three ultra conservative judges to replace them and made it clear to those judges that he expected them to remove the constitutional right of women to have an abortion whenever the matter came before the Court. He has now publicly confirmed that he had obtained their commitment to do this. His own staff, who witnessed the discussions, have also confirmed what Trump had demanded.

Thus, it happened last month.

The Court struck out the famous ruling in the case of Roe versus Wade, made by the Court 50 years ago, and which rightly and justly gave women control over what happened to their own bodies.

The margin of the vote was 6/3. The winning votes were those of the three #Trump appointees.

At that moment, those three judges ceased to be independent custodians of the Law.. They became politicians, low grade ones. A sad day for America, and the world.

The decision hotly divided the American people who are already hugely torn apart by the issue of gun ownership.

Indeed, it is deplorable that the same people who defend the right to life of unborn babies are the same people who demand the right to own a gun so they can shoot people at will.

It is also unbelievable that, in a grossly overpopulated world,which is in grave danger of having insufficient food and fresh water for its 8.5 billion people, anyone would want to fight for the life of an unwanted child who is likely to live an unhappy life.

So it is that when an American woman falls pregnant and has reasons to abort the pregnancy, she now bears alone the full trauma, responsibility and cost of having to proceed with the birth while her male partner is not burdened in any way. He can simply walk away and make it look as though she ‘deserved it’.

Sadly, this is the way of the world in far too many unfair ways.

It becomes more clear every day that, in every challenge of life, it is women who become second class citizens.

This is not a society that I want to live in and I am certain that most of my readers will agree with me.

What can be done about it in America?

Absolutely nothing.

The Justices of the Supreme Court have lifetime appointments.

The devotees of Donald Trump will control the Supreme Court for a generation and will continue to practice their extremism. The blunt fact is that while Trump lost the election, his legacy lives on.

There is little chance of new legislation passing the Congress that will give approval for abortion as Republicans and Democrats are bitterly divided to the point of total hatred.

An unfortunate fact is that the female Justice who wrote the abortion judgement on behalf of the Court is a devoted Catholic who is a mother of 6. Her world is one in which she accepts that husbands are the head of the family. She did not set out to persecute women with this judgement. She just restored what she believes is the natural place of women, primarily child bearers, a role that she appears to have accepted herself.

It is a tragedy of history that the person she replaced on the Court was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in my view the finest jurist ever to sit on the American Supreme Court in the history of the nation, She firmly stood for justice for all humanity, especially the poor and the oppressed and especially women who were denied their rights.

Her legacy has been demeaned by her successor but her book MY OWN WORDS is inspirational. I warmly recommend that you read it and applaud the prejudice against women that she had to overcome on her way to the top of her profession. Millions of women have been similarly oppressed.

And it cannot ever be denied that 5 male Justices voted to ban abortion.

They quite clearly do not believe in gender equality.

The same judges repeated their destruction this week by decimating the powers of the USA Environment Protection Agency.

A very disappointed

EVERALD

Don’t forget to enjoy some good winter reading with my books

A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET

DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS

THE MAN ON THE TWENTY DOLLAR NOTES

Buy them online from any bookseller or get a signed copy from me.

EVERALD@LARGE

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