As a committed YES voter and campaigner in the Referendum on VOICE, I am concerned that it is in danger of defeat by a powerful and negative campaign that is demanding details in advance of what powers VOICE will have, how it will operate and what it will cost.
This significant threat can be answered in full, simply and easily, by Parliament passing clearly defined legislation prior to the Referendum which will become law automatically when the Referendum is passed and which cannot be altered without another referendum being held.
I want to humbly suggest that the wording of the legislation should be in this concise form.
ABORIGINAL and TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER VOICE.
VOICE will be established with the authority of a Referendum which adds appropriate words to the Constitution of Australia.
It will have 35 Members who are Indigenous Citizens elected by Indigenous Voters.
Each State shall elect 5 members, Northern Territory 4 and Australian Capital Territory 1.
Their election will be arranged and implemented by the Australian Electoral Commission.
The Rules and Procedures for the work of VOICE shall be determined by Act of Parliament as will its operating Budget
Voice will meet 4 times annually for one week on each occasion.
Its Members will debate and submit policies applicable to the livelihood of Indigenous Australians.
The policies will be transmitted to the Speaker of the House of Representatives who will make appropriate arrangements for both Houses of Parliament to consider them.
Parliament will be under no obligation to accept them but the Speaker must convey a response to VOICE on each occasion.
This legislation automatically becomes law on the passing of the Referendum.
Lawyers can add legal words here and there but this is a concise basis for the creation of VOICE.
Lets do it NOW and cut out all the nonsense about the Opposition wanting detail and the Government saying it is not needed.
Sometime during the second half of 2023, we will be given the opportunity to vote YES or NO in what will be known as the VOICE REFERENDUM that arises from the ULURU STATEMENT FROM THE HEART.
As announced by the Prime Minister earlier this year, a YES vote in the Referendum will create an amendment to the Australian Constitution that will enable Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders to participate in a democratic election to establish a VOICE which will meet regularly to recommend policies to the Australian Parliament which will have the total authority to accept or reject them.
After the Referendum, Parliament will debate and enact a Bill that creates the rules that will apply to the way in which the VOICE is elected and operates.
In reality it is quite simply a positive step forward in integrating 65000 years of heritage into our Constitution and our life as a nation.
I will vote YES and actively campaign for a Yes vote.
In doing this, I am well aware that a significant number of my friends intend to vote NO and have carefully considered reasons for doing so. I respect their right to vote according to their conscience.
Here are some of their reasons for voting NO.
*Australia is a nation that already has a voice – our Federal Parliament – to which we have elected a significant number of indigenous parliamentarians.
*The Voice will create apartheid.
*Australia provides billions of dollars to Indigenous people every year and this has been wasted. No matter what is done for them, they are ungrateful and will always want more.
*The establishment of a Voice will not solve the problems that are ingrained in indigenous society such as crime, unemployment, alcohol, drugs, health, housing, domestic violence, poor education and lack of skills.
*It is only city aborigines who want a Voice. Country aborigines have no interest in it.
*A Treaty, based on the Waitangi Treaty of New Zealand, would achieve more.
In response to these concerns and beliefs, I tell my friends the reasons why I will vote YES.
*Indigenous people were excluded from the Australian Constitution in 1901. This was an insult and a mistake which must be rectified now.
*When Britain, in 1788, invaded the continent we now call Australia, they stole land which had been occupied by indigenous people for 65000 years. The welfare that is now given to them is a tiny fraction of the value of their land that they have never ceded.
*100 tribes of Indigenous people have never been able to speak to the Australian Parliament with one democratically elected Voice. Previous institutions have been comprised of political appointees who did the will of the governments that appointed them.
*White people have always decided what is best for aborigines, never the reverse.
*Defeating the referendum will achieve nothing. This issue will never go away. We will just irresponsibly kick the can down the road so our children and grandchildren will eventually have to do what we failed to do.
*It is quite simply the right and decent thing to do.
I am certain there are other important reasons why people will vote YES or NO and these will emerge during the referendum campaign. However, the ones I have outlined give an indication of the general scope of the forthcoming debate.
The Albanese Government will not provide funding for either the YES or NO campaigns. Both sides are required to set up there own organising teams and raise their own funds. This is a good thing as it would be wrong for the government to be seen to be promoting YES even though it is a clear policy of the Labor Party. So, it must promote neither.
I have joined, as a volunteer, a significant group called FROM THE HEART and my role is to help organise a strong YES vote from the Senior Australians. My plan is to enlist as many older Aussies as possible to visit everyone in the streets around their own home to chat about the absolute common sense of having a VOICE. We won’t waste money on advertising. Face to face talking is the powerful way to sell this historic strengthening of our national life.
My gut feeling is that there is a significant task ahead.
Right now, my private polling of public opinion tells me that Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania are likely to vote NO and this will create a national defeat of VOICE as our Constitution says that a referendum cannot pass unless a majority of States vote YES.
I also suspect that Senior Australians will vote NO by a margin of 60/40 because of ingrained negativity about all indigenous issues generated over many decades, but I think that a positive campaign could make it 50/50. Young voters will then take it over the victory line.
Overall, I reckon that with sincere and courteous campaigning the cause for YES can achieve a positive victory and I intend do my best to make it happen. My experience is that most older Australians are responsible people who will try to do the right thing for the good of Australia once they understand the issues at stake.
Creating a VOICE is clearly a nation building exercise that will benefit us all.
Nevertheless, I have an open mind to debate any better alternatives that sincere advocates put forward as this issue will never go away. Defeating it will achieve nil.
Grace and Peace in the spirit of ULURU. It is a symbol of unity.
These friendly words of welcome were made last Wednesday by Hon. Milton Dick MP, Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Australian Parliament.
I was visiting Parliament, negotiating on behalf of community projects in which I am personally involved, for the 121st time since my first visit there 66 years ago, covering an era in which 14 Prime Ministers have held office.
Milton had invited me to be his guest in the front row of the Speakers Gallery at Question Time, so I relaxed there as I took in the spectacle of Parliamentarians tearing one another apart – verbally – as usual.
During the proceedings, he announced my presence and the Members greeted me with warm applause. I was not expecting this, so I instantly decided that I better stand up and nod my thanks. This caused a bit more applause. I was quite moved by the honour, especially as the response came from all Parties in the Parliament, something that does not often happen in a Parliament that is constantly becoming more divided.
That same evening, Milton invited me to share an upmarket whisky with him and other MP’s in the Speakers Office as we chatted about political people and events over my six and a half decades as a visitor to Parliament. As we enjoyed our drinks, he asked me to express an opinion as to who were the best and worst Prime Ministers in my era. I responded that I have no doubt that Julia Gillard was the best and Scott Morrison the worst.
The visit to Parliament in this past week enabled me to have private meetings with 29 politicians and bureaucrats. I made sure that I covered Labor, Liberals, Nationals, Greens. Independents. This is a practice I have followed over all the years as I learned long ago that, to achieve anything significant at Parliament, it is vital to get as many people and parties onside as is possible.
On this occasion, at the conclusion of my three days there, I can say with confidence that I am pleased with the progress made with my projects, but am always aware that I should have done better,
I must mention that I found this Parliament, led by Anthony Albanese, to be a much more progressive place on sound government than those run by Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison. They were consumed by the exercise of power whereas this one shows clear evidence of genuinely trying to achieve results in an ever changing and challenging world of huge social, economic and religious divisions. A totally different attitude prevails at this moment and I found it to be refreshing. My hope is that it will continue to be so.
Right now, the major political battlegrounds are in the fields of industrial relations, anti-corruption, robodebt, voluntary assisted dying, child care, climate, environment, voice referendum, aged care and skills shortage, with many other initiatives in the pipeline. It will be good for Australia if most are successful
A few matters are obvious headline gatherers that are worthy of special comment right now.
*The Voice Referendum is currently in trouble. I found only a few MP’s who are confident that it will pass as most of them feel that Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania will vote No. The Australian Constitution clearly states that a majority of States must vote Yes for any Referendum to pass on the issue of constitutional change. I will vote Yes and will campaign strongly to secure an overall Yes vote as it is fundamentally wrong for Australia to have a Constitution that does recognise 65000 years of indigenous heritage. However, it will require a a well planned and very positive campaign to secure a Voice to that heritage.
*Along with the political demise of Scott Morrison, the power of the Christian Right has faded considerably in the current Parliament. I doubt that it will ever regain its influence as most Christians are in the centre ground of politics, not out on the extremes of the right.
*Many veteran Nationals and Liberals in Parliament intend to retire at the 2025 Election. They are resigned to the inevitability that Anthony Albanese will enjoy two terms as Prime Minister and Jim Chalmers will follow him for at least another 2 terms. They do not want to be in the political wilderness for so many long years. I can understand their feelings on this matter but the key issue is this. Can they find replacements who are Prime Minister material? This task is of great importance as they do not have anyone in their ranks at this moment who is electable as Leader of our nation. As matters stand at present, they are obviously very weak as the official Opposition. This is shown by their consistently poor performances at Question Time. Too many of their questions are embarrassingly ridiculous.
*The TEALS and other Independents are not political amateurs. They are preforming with positive credibility and getting results. One example of this is the humble but powerful performance of David Pocock in gaining amendments to Industrial Relations legislation.
So there it is for now.
Many things can change in a hurry in politics, so nothing is certain. But, for now, the new Labor government is doing better than most people expected.
I will be back there in Canberra in February. It may be a different world by then. Who knows.
But let me close by saying that I will never ever forget my first meeting with Sir Robert Menzies way back in 1956. He had a commanding presence and looked and acted like a Prime Minister of huge distinction. The key issue to remember is that he clearly occupied the centre ground of politics. It was obvious that he was a genuine Liberal. He was not a Conservative. The future of Australian politics will always be in the Centre. The LNP must get back there in a hurry or remain in the lonely wilderness for decades.
Yours with an open mind.
My book DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS is enjoying increasing sales. Many Australians are realising that to vote in the voice referendum, they must have some knowledge of what our Founding Fathers put into the Constitution. My book is written as a thriller in which Barton, Deakin, Griffith, Kingston, Forrest etc are the very credible heroes.
Go to my books website, EveraldBooks.com, to place an order for it (and my other books).
Three weeks ago, a young Indigenous Aussie, just 15 years old, was peacefully walking home with his friends from the school they attended at Middle Swan in Western Australia.
His name was CASSIUS TURVEY.
They were attacked by a 21 year old man who hit him, and some of his friends, with an iron pole. He died two weeks later and his attacker has been charged with murder.
When he was laid to rest this week in the ancient and splendidly spiritual traditions of his ancestors, there was a genuine outpouring of grief across Australia as people of many cultures and religions met to light candles of remembrance. These gatherings were not organised as a part of any campaign against racists. They just happened. Indeed, the family of Cassius asked that his death not be used in any way as part of a political campaign.
Certainly, most of us do not want a nationwide crusade similar to that which happened when George Floyd was murdered by 4 police in USA. That incident was not a show of grief. It was as close to anarchy as it was possible to get. Simply, it was naked political unrest fostered by extremists who capitalised on the sincere feelings of many peace loving Americans who were appalled at Floyd’s death.
The death of Cassius is a stark reminder to all of us that we live in a violent society that is growing in its incidence of brutality for no valid reason.
This has been fostered by the ever growing use of hostile and insulting words that millions of us use every day in the normal course of our lives.
I cringe when politicians abuse one another in Parliament on every occasion they can. They set a dreadful example to the nation of disrespect and intolerance.
Media stirs divisions among us every minute of every hour of every day by creating controversial headlines that are blatant lies designed to divide society into warring factions that will support whatever sick ideology they are fostering at the time.
Social media is the worst centre of abuse by far. The bitterness, nastiness and lies that are spewed out every day are hugely disgraceful. So much so that I have recently taken up the practice of instantly blocking any follower or reader who is even slightly abusive, vulgar or hypocritical. We do not need them in our society in any shape or form.
We can commence our crusade against abuse by the way in which we participate in the debate during the forthcoming Referendum which will be held in Australia sometime during 2023 on the creation of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander VOICE.
This referendum has the capacity to create huge social divisions across the nation, not because there is anything illegal or divisive or dishonorable about it, but simply because it will give racists and bullies a respectable platform to vent their appalling spleen across our society and try their very best to divide us into warring factions.
I intend to campaign strongly for a YES Vote simply because I passionately believe it is time to recognise in the Australian Constitution the 65000 years of Indigenous heritage of our nation. This was deliberately omitted when our Constitution was written and voted on in 1901.
However, I will use no nasty language and I will respect the right of opponents to express their differing views as citizens of a democratic nation. If ever I overstep the mark, I will apologise sincerely.
My profound hope is that Australia will grow as a nation that has a predominantly cohesive society and that, in the years ahead, young Aussies like CASSIUS will be able to live with an expectation of security in a peaceful community, no matter whether they are black or white or of any other ethnic group or religion or culture.
May I say this in closing.
I did not attend a public gathering for CASSIUS. I paused for a few moments at my home to quietly shed a tear for him. He died before he had the opportunity to play the music that was in his soul. There and then, I made a quiet commitment to work relentlessly to foster a nation of peace.
And I now remember the words of the great English poet, John Donne, (amended to remove the word Man).
‘The death of any person diminishes me as I am involved in humankind. Therefore, never ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for you.’
For many years, I have been appalled by the attitude of people who say,
‘When the Queen dies, I will be happy to vote in favour of Australia becoming a Republic.’
What they, in reality, have been callously saying is this.
‘I don’t want to offend Elizabeth, but I have no problem with insulting Charles’.
Why are they happy to declare Charles to be a lesser monarch than the Queen? I can assure you from personal experience that he is actually a decent bloke.
Fact is their thinking is totally emotional, has no shred of logic and is offensive to the King.
Most Australians don’t realise it, but right now two thirds of the members of the Commonwealth of Nations are Republics and the Queen had a good relationship with all of them. So will Charles.
The prime example is India, It won its freedom from Britain in 1947 and immediately became a Republic, severing all constitutional connections with the British Crown, but happily joined the Commonwealth of Nations. Since then, they have invited the Queen to visit them on three occasions and she accepted three times, with huge crowds turning out to greet her. Does this indicate she was offended by them becoming a Republic?
Australians who used the ‘Queen Excuse’ to oppose Australia becoming a Republic have shown themselves to be shallow.
So, lets cut out the emotional nonsense and get down to discussing how Australia formally severs its connections with a decadent Downton Abbey society and becomes an independent nation.
What can stop us from becoming a Republic right now?
There will be a temporary delay due to a timing problem. We have no option but to wait until the Indigenous Voice Referendum has been held in mid 2023 as it is already underway and is a matter of some controversy that can’t be avoided. I intend to vote Yes, but the opposition will be significant.
Nevertheless, we can begin to prepare for it.
An initial hurdle is that we must face the fact that the words ‘Republic’ and ‘President’ switch off far too many voters. People identify those titles with nations like USA and Russia and Trump and Putin, They are a huge negative that will cause the referendum to be lost. So I think it makes common sense to stick with the existing words of ‘Commonwealth of Australia’ and ‘Governor General’.
I have sought legal advice and find it is possible to remove all mention of ‘The Crown’ from the Constitution of Australia and still remain a Commonwealth. A referendum will gain approval for this far more easily than one based on a republic.
It is also wise to retain the title of Governor General as this maintains a relationship with State Governors and removes the huge negative of the word President.
The crucial debate will be centered on the method of appointing a Governor General.
Will he or she continue to be chosen by the Prime Minister as happens at present or can the appointment be made by a vote of a Joint Sitting of both Houses of Parliament with a two thirds majority being required.
In achieving such a vote in the Parliament, should the nominees to be voted on be eminent citizens who are proposed by the People of Australia via a Petition to Parliament or do we let the politicians choose the candidates.
Or should the Governor General be appointed by a direct election in which voters make the choice, not Parliament. Does this mean that a politician will be elected who then feels he or she has a political mandate? It will be necessary for the Constitution to be amended to say that no current or former politicians are eligible to run. The Irish have made direct election work well in Eire so it is possible.
These issues simply remind us that there is a lot of debate to be held before we can decide what is best for Australia.
So, testing times lie ahead.
However, the death of Queen Elizabeth puts it all on the Agenda right now in a far greater limelight and urgency than ever before. Also, the controversial status of the current Governor General over the ‘Morrison Affair’ has highlighted the need for changes to be made as Australia voters had no say whatsoever in the appointment of Hurley.
A step forward will be to create a Constitution Panel to draw up all the changes and additions to the Constitution that are necessary for a Referendum in 2024.
Let’s get this moving but let me say this in closing.
Even though Britain faces dark economic and social challenges at this moment, the Brits have one huge talent they can once more show to the world. They have a magnificent capacity to organise quite breathtaking funerals. The one they did for Diana was an absolute cracker. This one will outclass that one by a huge margin as it is one for the ages.
Elizabeth was as close to a saint as the Brits have had in their royal history. Every republican I know holds her in high regard as a person. They will eventually feel the same way about Charles. In the meantime, they just want Australia to be an independent nation.
One of the greatest story tellers in the history of the United States of America was MARK TWAIN, an author of legend.
He was also a spellbinding orator and superb raconteur.
Of all his great words, I regard these as his finest.
‘There are two memorable days in your life. The first is the day you are born. The second is when you ask yourself this question,
WHY AM I HERE?
Tragedy is that most people either avoid the question or feel unable to answer it.
I was reminded of Mark Twain this week when the Australian Government held a Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra that was attended by 150 of our nations most influential citizens and who were joined by a selection of powerful Members of Parliament.
Over 2 days, they made 36 recommendations to Government for action which I hope will be implemented quickly, skillfully and efficiently. It is a reasonable assessment to say that the Summit was a success.
Over and above this, the Summit conveyed a personal message to you and me. It challenged us to decide what we will do with our lives at work and play and as volunteers working to create a cohesive society.
The stage is now set for circumstances whereby there will be sufficient jobs available so we can choose, without pressure to work full or part time, no matter what our age or gender or status or wealth or ethnic heritage.
Interestingly, it is confidently expected that many people will now choose part time work in their quest to have a better quality of life.
Especially, older Australians will have the opportunity to return to the work force without losing part of their pension. Hopefully also, a decision will soon be made that will enable self funded retirees to work part time & put their pay in full into their superannuation fund.
Another hope is that volunteers will be given far more interesting challenges in charity work other than the boring task of preparing morning tea or driving cars.
Notably, the greatest thrust of the Summit was to help mothers get back into the paid workforce where they can show their worth and skill in ways they are currently denied (and also add to their superannuation which is currently far inferior to that of males).
Over and above all this are our personal aspirations for a life of fulfillment.
Along with the reforms of the Jobs and Skills Summit will come a flexibility of employment opportunities which will enable people to seek ways and means of achieving personal goals as the result of answering the Mark Twain question – WHY AM I HERE?
Every one of us, no matter what our age or financial position or state of health – or what we have already achieved in life – could have or may have or may think about having a fresh goal or goals in life. Indeed, I read the other day of a woman whose life circumstances had caused her to have only a very basic education. Yet, in her 90’s, she studied for and achieved a University Degree in Arts just to prove she could do it. She has arranged for the scroll that the University gave her to be placed in her coffin as an eternal symbol.
Many of us by force of events may have wound up in an occupation that was not our prime choice. Now, in retirement, why not give it a go, retrain and try to spend at least a decade enjoying your dream before your health gives out.
The opportunities are without limit. I can speak from experience as I have enjoyed 5 occupations fairly successfully over my 90 years – banker, accountant, fund raising consultant, company director, author. Its not all that hard to achieve.
A wonderful thing to do would be to form a business partnership with a young person in which you mentor one another as you work together to achieve a goal. The older person brings wisdom and experience and, hopefully a bit of financial capital. The younger one brings modern knowledge, computer skills, physical strength and vibrant enthusiasm. (I enjoy one such partnership. I do a weekly podcast with a young lawyer, James Morgan, who is 70 years my junior. We call it ‘Young James and Old Everald talk politics’)
So, a new world is opening up for every one of us to accept or reject.
Parliament appears to be getting its act together, showing some leadership and opening doors to opportunity.
We now can decide whether or not we walk through those doors and, if it has been unanswered up to this point in time, grab the future in both hands and say
I KNOW WHY I AM HERE.
From a fan of HUCKLEBERRY FINN and TOM SAWYER.
And who has Flynn of the Inland as his personal role model of achievement. (I wrote a book about him called THE MAN ON THE TWENTY DOLLAR NOTES).
While I was in Canberra attending the Opening of Australia’s newly elected Parliament in the last week of July, I was invited to coffee with the Rationalist Society. They were making calls on MP’s and Senators advocating that Parliament should permanently drop the historic tradition of beginning each day of debate with a prayer.
When they invited me to join them for coffee, my first thought was that the issue was trivia, but I had 30 minutes to spare and decided it could be interesting to find out why they chose to spend time, money & energy making an issue of this.
I found that they are rational people who try to live by exercising rational thoughts and rejecting all aspects of the impact of spirituality in doing so.
They believe that Parliament is a place where legislation is to be debated in a rational manner and must devote its time to doing exactly that. Praying for guidance from a God has nothing to do with it and no Parliamentarian should ever use his or her personal religion to influence the Parliament.
So, they hold the firm view that prayer to a Christian God, or any other God, has no place in any Parliament, especially as the most recent Census shows that less than 50% of Australians identify with any religion and, therefore, would certainly approve the removal of prayers from the daily agenda.
They also believe that the Christian prayer discriminates against Muslim and Jewish Parliamentarians, as well Indigenous ones who have their own heritage of spirituality. There are also several atheist and agnostic MP’s.
Above all, the records show that only a small number of MP’s and Senators ever attend the saying of the prayer which is recited in a boring tone without conviction. Just enough are there to ensure a legal quorum is present. While the prayer is being said, those present can be seen reading and answering their emails and texts.
It really is a farce.
The Rationalists say it should be replaced with 5 minutes of meditation when members reflect on their conscience and personal responsibility to the voters of their electorates in the matters to be debated that day.
I note that the Rationalists have achieved some success. The newly elected President of the Senate has publicly supported them. At another level of government the Wagga Wagga Council, by a vote of 5 to 3, scrapped the prayer at the opening of Council meetings and replaced it with a time of reflection when all Councilors are required to be present.
May I raise another matter which is similar?
We should remove the practice whereby those being sworn into Parliament are asked to ‘take a holy book in your right hand and swear etc’. This usually means a Bible or Quran. What they should be holding is a copy of the Constitution of Australia. However, I was in the Gallery and noted that about a quarter of the Parliamentarians refused to hold anything, but the ceremony went ahead anyway.
(I would have objected on the grounds that I am left-handed).
However, the issue that really aggravated me was the requirement that they swear allegiance to Queen Elizabeth, not the People of Australia. This is an absolute disgrace.
Be this as it may, my great hope is that one day our Constitution will state that no one can nominate to be elected to Parliament unless they have a proven record of voluntary service to the community, no known violation of gender equality & have successfully completed a course of study that has embraced a full understanding of democracy, the constitution and how government and parliament actually perform their work. This will raise the quality of Parliament by 1000%.
So it was that at the end of a pleasant coffee chat, I wished the Rational Society well, but said that I want, at age 90 & growing in frailty, to concentrate on 3 personal passions – railways, longevity & Uluru.
Plus writing books about physical and social nation building.
A decade of coups has caused the Australian Parliament to be a fragile example of the way that democracy is meant to work.
However, no matter whether you belong to right or left, we can acknowledge the fact that the arrival of the Albanese Government has changed the political atmosphere around the nation and created hope that we can experience a long period of political stability that enables us to achieve positive progress in meeting many significant challenges that face us.
Be this as it may, I have been an annual visitor to the Australian Parliament for 64 years, the first being way back in the days of Robert Menzies, and I continued my pilgrimage in this past week, enjoying the experience. MP’s told me that no one in Australia can beat that record.
I flew into Canberra on Sunday on yet another delayed Qantas flight, just in time to enjoy a splendid dinner at the Kingston home of my friend, Stephen Koukoulas, whom I regard as Australia’s finest economist, as well as being an astute political observer. He gave me a solid briefing on the political scene in our nations capital.
Armed with this, I descended upon Parliament for the next four days, having managed to organise 34 meetings with Members and Senators from the ALP, LNP, Greens & Independents, plus bureaucrats and press gallery. Some meetings lasted only 15 or 30 minutes, but others took an hour or more over breakfast, lunch or dinner.
A range of issues were covered in our conversations, with the key ones being my priorities – railways, longevity, housing, climate & Uluru referendum.
Here are three personal impressions of how Australia is travelling in political terms right now.
*When the Uluru Referendum is held, it will starkly divide Australia as Hanson and Palmer, backed by some high profile ultra conservatives from the LNP, will run one of the greatest scare campaigns of all time in an attempt to convince us that our homes will soon be taken from us by the traditional owners. Nevertheless, I feel confident that the referendum will produce a positive result and I am personally committed to work as a volunteer on the YES campaign to encourage oldies like me to back it solidly.
*The passing of Climate Legislation will be a solid test of the leadership skills of Anthony Albanese. The climate commitment he made during election campaign was better than that of Morrison, but far short of what is needed. To pass his climate bill through the Senate, he needs every Green Senator to vote with him, plus one Independent. This will be near impossible to achieve without expanding the goals of his climate policy as Independent David Pocock is the one most likely to vote with him. He is a deeply committed climate activist who will ask for upgrades.
*Inflation, plus the steep interest rate rises it is creating, is the most formidable hurdle for you and me right now. We will be hit hard, but we will survive. I have significant confidence in the economic knowledge and skills of Treasurer, Jim Chalmers. I first met him 15 years ago and we chat regularly. He knows what he is doing and does it calmly. You can have confidence that we are headed in the right direction.
A couple of matters especially upset me.
*I attended the swearing in of most of the 151 Members of the House of Representatives and was appalled when they were asked to give their allegiance, not to the people of Australia, but to the Queen. This means that they have sworn not to be accountable to you and me. This is a disgusting travesty of democratic justice.
*I had hoped that the behaviour of our leaders at Question time would improve. It has not. They still abuse one another. Don’t watch it. It is an appalling spectacle that represents a bad example to the nation and a total waste of your time and mine.
However, there are some good things happening.
*Seven indigenous people have been elected to the Parliament. This is a record. And its a good one.
*There are more women in Parliament than ever before and most of them are top quality. Cheers.
*My friend Milton Dick was elected Speaker. He will reform the way in which the entire Parliament and its staff go about their business. Discrimination by gender or race or religion will not be tolerated.
Did I enjoy this visit to Parliament? YES.
Is there really a positive attitude of change in the Parliament? YES
We can enjoy life with confident calm so long as we live and work with skill, confidence, determination and persistence, while ensuring there is justice for all.
Grace and Peace.
Buy my book DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS and absorb the sad details of why indigenous people were left out of the Australian Constitution in 1901. It will encourage you to help fix this injustice.
You can buy it from any online bookseller or my personal websites.
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.
And don’t forget to buy signed copies of my three books from my website
It is now time for Australians to vote in a Referendum that embeds the basic principles of the Uluru Statement into the Constitution of Australia.
This historic milestone must not be delayed beyond this year and, as the Prime Minister has affirmed that his government is ready to pass legislation enabling the Referendum to be held, it is highly possible to achieve this.
As my contribution to the debate, here is wording I believe should be voted into the Constitution as Section 129, with the heading FIRST AUSTRALIANS.
*An Assembly will be established called FIRST AUSTRALIANS, in acknowledgement of the heritage of the oldest culture in the world.
*be elected by a democratic vote of indigenous persons managed by the Australian Electoral Commission.
*consist of not more than 50 members who shall serve five year terms.
*formulate policies relating to the livelihood of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and present these to Parliament annually.
Parliament shall have
*no obligation to approve the recommended policies, but shall debate them and formally convey responses to the Assembly within one year.
*powers to make laws relating to the functions and procedures of the Assembly.
Let me have your thoughts on how these words can be improved.
In doing so, I suggest you note these thoughts.
I have used the least possible number of words as the more words that are used the more doubts can be created in the minds of voters by opponents who see words as an opportunity to nitpick.
I am aware that significant leaders of indigenous communities would like the name of the Assembly to be FIRST NATIONS VOICE but I have the firm view that this will cause the referendum to fail as many Australians will feel that it recognises indigenous people as a separate nation.
The Constitution states that to gain approval, a Referendum must not only gain a nationwide majority of votes for YES, voters in four out of 6 States must vote YES. This is a huge task and I hope that you will join me in working for its achievement.
It is important that FIRST AUSTRALIANS is part of the Constitution rather than it being created by an Act of Parliament as that can be amended or removed by a subsequent government.
As this year is the 30th anniversary of the Mabo decision of the High Court to recognise the land rights of Indigenous Australians, it is fitting that Australia now takes this next step forward in continuing to achieve a just society.
Written with a genuine sense of history in the making.
PS. Read my book DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS to discover why aborigines, as they were then called, were omitted from the Australian Constitution.
Let us for the moment presume that Bill Shorten will become Prime Minister of Australia on Saturday evening.
Once he settles into the job, I will seek a meeting with him to advocate a number of changes to the way in which we elect governments and the manner in which changes can be made to the Senate which is currently a blot on democracy.