Statements by Senators – Australian Constitution: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (13:18): The Labor government quietly announced, a few months ago, that they would deliver water ownership rights to Indigenous Australians. This particular decision raises several pertinent questions that politicians, journalists and the Australian people need to ask.

First, how was it that the government was able to negotiate something as serious as giving Indigenous people rights to Australian water without first having enacted the Indigenous Voice to Parliament? We have continually been told that the Voice is absolutely necessary and that, without it, Indigenous people cannot be properly consulted. Yet here we are: we have Indigenous people being granted sovereignty over water, and all without any voice having been enacted. It begs the question: just how required is the Voice? If the government can provide water rights to Indigenous people without changing the Constitution, why can they not provide whatever else is needed to improve Indigenous lives without first changing the Constitution?

Second, it raises questions of what else Australians can expect after the Voice is enacted? The government has been mute on truth telling and treaty, yet both of these things are central to the much-publicised Uluru Statement from the Heart. Australians would be shocked to learn that certain people, because of skin colour, may get special rights to water. Wasn’t it Martin Luther King Jr who talked about being judged by the content of one’s character rather than the colour of one’s skin? Whatever happened to that?

The government knows full well that if the Voice is enshrined in our Constitution there will be calls for a treaty between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. In fact, the Prime Minister himself has said that the Voice is just one step in the process. What will this involve? How much money will taxpayers who never did anything wrong be expected to pay to Indigenous Australians who were not alive when wrong things occurred? Today it’s water rights; tomorrow it’s God knows what, and that is not good enough.

The Albanese government don’t want to talk about a treaty, so they instead talk about a voice to parliament, and they don’t like to talk about a voice to parliament, so they instead talk about constitutional recognition. Australians are starting to wake up to the fact that they are being led deliberately and carefully, one step at a time, down a blind alley. We all know what typically happens when you’re being led down a blind alley: it’s so you can be robbed of all your valuables.

Speaking of being blindly led down a dark alleyway, as a Victorian, I’m used to that. I’m so used to it. I’m used to being robbed by my government, the highest-taxing state government in Australia. In my home state, we’ve skipped the Voice stage, and we’re already negotiating a treaty via the Andrews government’s First Peoples Assembly. The Victorian government describes the process this way:

Treaty provides a path to negotiate the transfer of power and resources for First Peoples to control matters which impact their lives.

I repeat: ‘power’, ‘resources’ and ‘control’. This doesn’t end with a Voice. What comes after the Voice? I’ll tell you what it is: it’s the invoice. That’s what comes. I will quote again from the Victorian government:

In Victoria, there will be one overarching Statewide Treaty and multiple local Treaties with individual Traditional Owner groups, covering matters as diverse as political representation, land and water, and economic development.

To me, that sounds like race based seats in parliament. It sounds like that could be on the cards, as well as surrendering freehold assets. Don’t think you won’t be forced to pay the rent. It has already started in Western Australia, and in Victoria it seems like we’re going even further.

To the Australians at home that are watching this broadcast on social media, I say this: don’t risk it. Vote no to the Voice. Don’t divide the nation by race. Most importantly, don’t empower these inner-city, woke, latte-sipping, low-testosterone activists. The Voice will do nothing at all to help the truly disadvantaged. If you want to help the disadvantaged, then what you do is reduce red tape, reduce regulation and provide opportunities. That’s what you do. You don’t enshrine garbage like the Voice, which divides us by race. It’s wrong.