10 Reasons for Progressives to #VoteYes
Australia is at a pivotal moment with conversations on the Voice set to shape our future. Progressive friends are asking me if they should vote "No" because the Voice isn't enough. Because it's only an advisory group and not a Treaty. Here are 10 reasons why why I suggest they vote "Yes".
1. Recognising Progressive Values
Progressives advocate for social justice, equality, and inclusive policies. These values align with the aspirations of the Voice to Parliament. By voting "Yes" for the Voice, progressives can demonstrate their commitment to a more equitable society and show solidarity with First Nations.
2. Acknowledging Historical Injustices
Australia's history is marked by grave injustices against First Nations. From massacres and dispossession of land, to the Stolen Generations. These injustices have left deep scars. The Voice offers immediate recognition and acknowledgment of these wrongs. It's a step towards reconciliation and healing that cannot be understated.
3. Amplifying Indigenous Voices
One of the central aims of the Voice to Parliament is empowering First Nations communities with a direct say in the decisions that affect their lives. Progressives should support this effort to amplify First Nations voices in policy-making processes. The Voice can complement a future Treaty by ensuring that First Nations perspectives are heard and respected in the interim.
4. A Path to Future Agreements
Voting "Yes" for the Voice doesn't preclude the possibility of future Treaty negotiations. In fact, it can create a more favorable environment. The Voice can serve as a platform for First Nations to advocate a vision for a Treaty, as well as other essential reforms. It's a stepping stone towards achieving improved and broader rights and recognition.
5. Unity and Collective Action
Progressive change requires collective action. While pursuing a Treaty may be a valid and important goal, it's crucial to recognise that achieving one would take time and involve complex negotiations, including among diverse groups of First Nations peoples. In the meantime, the Voice can unite supportive voices, and create a more potent force for change.
6. International Recognition
Australia lags behind many other nations in acknowledging the rights and self-determination of our First Nations populations. Canada, New Zealand, the United States, Norway and Sweden all have similar mechanisms to the Voice. Supporting the Voice is an opportunity for Australia to catch up. It sends a message that Australia is committed to international standards, respecting First Nations rights and addressing historical injustices.
7. Realistic Progress
Positive and enduring change in any society is incremental. Pursuing a Treaty would be a substantial and complicated undertaking requiring broad political and public support. Voting "No" in the referendum would be counterproductive. Instead, progress can be made by supporting the Voice now and continuing to push for a Treaty if need be into the future. The 1967 referendum, the Mabo decision and the Apology were all positive steps forward. The Voice is the next.
8. Avoiding Divisiveness
Voting "No" in the referendum, even for the noble goal of a Treaty, risks increasing division. It would embolden haters and fragment the efforts of everyone who is seeking justice and recognition for First Australians. By supporting the Voice, progressives can find common ground, build coalitions, and work towards a more inclusive and equitable future.
9. A Platform for Ongoing Dialogue
The Voice, if established, can provide an ongoing platform for dialogue between First Nations communities, the government, and the broader public. It could serve as a legitimate mechanism for discussing and refining terms of a Treaty, ensuring that these align with First Nations aspirations.
10. Solidarity and Hope
In times when the world faces huge challenges and complexity, unity and hope are more important than ever. Voting "Yes" for the Voice sends a message of solidarity and hope for a better future. It is a demonstration of faith in the possibility of change and progress towards a better Australia.
To sum up, voting "No" in the referendum because the Voice isn't enough might not be the most strategic or progressive choice. Progressives can and should support the Voice as a significant step forward in acknowledging and healing historical injustices, empowering First Nations communities, and creating a more inclusive, kinder and united Australia.
Image from the Northern Land Council's Vote Yes page.