20 May 2024
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Has Voice referendum proved we’re more Anglo than the Poms?

Malcolm Mackerras
19 October 2023

Paul Keating was fond of composing memorable quotes. His most famous was that “the Australian Senate is unrepresentative swill”. I approved of that to such a degree I decided to call my blog “Unrepresentative Swill”. Keating’s second most famous quote, however, earned my ridicule and continues to do so. It was: “When the government of a country changes the country changes.”

The first Keating quote leads me to comment again on the two biggest villains of last Saturday’s NO verdict. Both are female senators who by dint of political and legalistic trickery are technically described as having been directly chosen by the people. The reality is that both have been appointed to the Senate by party machines, Lidia Thorpe by the Greens, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price by the Country Liberal Party of the Northern Territory.

I have dealt with Thorpe before in my articles of 26 October 2022 “Lidia Thorpe’s latest example of Senate’s unrepresentative swill” and of 27 February 2023 “My advice to Senator Lidia Thorpe”. She is a middle-aged extremist of the left who will lose her notoriety when her Senate term expires on 30 June 2028. Price is a young go getter and opportunist, possessed of a lively sense of knowing the side of her bread upon which the butter is spread. Like Thorpe there is a shrine to Price at which many Australians worship. I do not worship at either shrine.

Now to Keating’s second quote. Relevant to it was the voting last Saturday. Although New Zealand has kicked out a Labour government and installed one led by the centre-right National Party, I insist that New Zealand has not changed and will not change. It remains the most woke country in the Anglosphere. By contrast, Australia in May 2022 kicked out Scott Morrison’s government and installed Labor under Anthony Albanese. New Zealand appears to have moved from left to right, Australia in the opposite direction.

By the way, in my article of 25 July titled “New Zealand will change its government in October” I predicted that the incoming National Party-ACT coalition government would have 63 seats in the House of Representatives, 48 National and 15 ACT. The result appears now to be 62 for the incoming government, 51 National and 11 ACT.

Last Saturday, Australia’s votes came in later than those of New Zealand due to the time differences. However, when the result became clear we learned something I have long known to be true. Australia is the most conservative country in the Anglosphere. That fact is partly due to Australia having an unamendable Constitution.

I use neither the word “woke” nor the word “conservative” pejoratively. I am woke in that I am awake to social injustice. I am woke also in that I am awake to racial injustice. But I am also conservative in some ways. A man who proudly proclaims himself to have been a life-long monarchist is surely entitled to call himself a conservative.

Having used this word “Anglosphere” I had best define it. The most common definition is that it comprises six countries. Two are republics, the United States of America and Ireland. The other four are constitutional monarchies, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Obviously, the USA and Ireland are the most radical. They broke away and renounced the British crown. Though invited to join the Commonwealth Ireland went so far as to refuse to join. So, the most conservative country in the Anglosphere is one of the remaining four.

New Zealand is clearly the most woke. Its constitutional arrangements are very generous to its First Nations people, the Maori. It also broke up the ANZUS treaty, leaving that as an alliance between Australia and the United States only. When deciding it should have a new electoral system New Zealand decided to go for proportional representation. Fair enough. But in deciding on the type of PR it rejected the British form, the single transferable vote, and opted to copy Germany, a nation of people now generally regarded as constituting the most woke country in the world. New Zealand’s political analysts invented the term to describe this system – Mixed Member Proportional – and that term has been adopted by all the woke countries that have it.

Canada adopted a new constitution in 1982. That Constitution has all the woke features on offer, a Charter of Rights and Freedoms and references to its First Nations people that would do Australia’s Aboriginal leaders proud. Indeed, Canada invented the term “First Nations People”, leading some Australian conservatives to object to it – preferring instead “Indigenous people” or “Aboriginal people”.

So, the most conservative country of the Anglosphere is either the United Kingdom or Australia – but it’s obviously not the United Kingdom! That country has carried so-called “cancel culture” way beyond what Australia has done. Anyway, the British people voted for Brexit, a truly radical decision unimaginable of the Australian people.

Last Saturday, the Australian people had the option to see themselves as measured and generous, ready to set aside the daily woes of their lives – if only for an hour or so – to consider the place and state of Indigenous Australians. In other circumstances they might have been prepared to say YES to something that would cost them nothing but could greatly improve the lives of the most vulnerable among them. That option was rejected. The Australian people chose instead to be a frightened, resentful people unable or unwilling to see through the scares and the lies, prepared to use the ballot box to continue the disadvantage of Indigenous people trapped in cycles of poverty and abuse.

When the results are final, and I can do a proper analysis on that basis I’ll write another Switzer Daily article on the referendum. Meanwhile, I note that my predictions in the article “The Voice referendum: PM take note, and Dutton you have some explaining to do” posted on Monday 9 October contained this statement: “There will be 10 million votes for NO (58.8%) and 7 million for YES (41.2%).” The counting so far indicates that I’ll be right on 10 million for NO but, unfortunately, slightly short on YES which I now estimate will be six and a half million.

There is one detail I got perfectly right. I predicted history would record that twice as many electorates voted YES to the Republic in 1999 as voted YES for the Voice in 2023. Anyway, there will be more detailed analysis from me in the moderately near future.

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