Oct 31, 2017

Rundle: how the sop of ‘recognition’ forces Indigenous people to beg

There appears to be an imbalance built into this whole recognition process. It looks like a process that confers power on Indigenous people, but, in a curious way, it does the opposite.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


The Turnbull government’s refusal to back a "yes" vote on a referendum package from the Uluru Statement from the Heart meeting -- a combination of constitutional recognition, treaty, and advisory assembly -- is politically predictable. Though the speed with which it was done is affronting, it’s surprising anyone is so surprised. What chance was there that a Coalition with the National Party in it would ever consent to such a thing? Some polling currently being spruiked around suggests that support for an advisory body, established in the constitution, is as high as 60%, getting to the levels of support enjoyed by a minimal "recognition" statement alone.

Maybe, maybe, but one remains sceptical that such a vote would hold, or that it could prevail, in four states. Quite aside from the possibility that some do not understand what is being proposed, there is also the damage that a long referendum campaign would do to the idea. For the Nats, and many Liberals, the notion is anathema by principle and by politics. Even if they were, by some Merkel-esque leap of history, to grasp the proposal, their backbench would not go with them, nor would their base. One Nation would reap the harvest.

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3 thoughts on “Rundle: how the sop of ‘recognition’ forces Indigenous people to beg

  1. Will

    A tepid first peoples’ proposal dismissed here out of hand; a paranoid nativistic constitutional legacy delightedly reaffirmed; the Manus Island asylum detainees abandoned without care – all in the space of a mere few days. I don’t think this is accidental. I think there’s a deep coherence to Australian political culture that is deeply depressing (and which insulates us from the likes of current American travails) – not merely a lack of remorse, but a determined, collective, European racialist exceptionalism.

    Yes, a ‘politics beyond statecraft’ – beyond elites and legal institutions and symbolic ‘concessions’ – is ultimately vital, but first there is a seriously thick shell to be cracked. Undoubtedly, any treaty achievements (and related claims) risk relegation to hollow symbolism. But isn’t that a risk (perhaps the only one for this generation) worth taking, if it might help first to open minds? Couldn’t the shock of recognition – to both settlers and to indigenous people – finally be the spark for a genuinely popular indigenous-justice civil society movement?

  2. AR

    On so many issues, Crikey staff & many commenters seem to think that T2 will magically resolve all the obscenities currently being perpetrated by the tories.
    Gullible, useful idiots, plain dumb or deliberately disingenuous?
    Why anyone would think bumBoil Shlernt has a moral, ethical or principled bone is his spineless body is beyond me.

    1. MAC TEZ

      I think most here feel that Lab for Lib would be much the ‘same shit – different Government of the day’, just not quite as much shit.
      When you’re up to your neck in it …the thought of a bit less heading your way is a relief.

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