(Image: IPA/YouTube)

Yesterday, the far-right Institute of Public Affairs launched a YouTube video as part of its “Race Has No Place” campaign against the Voice to Parliament. The Voice was a core recommendation from the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart, which would allow Indigenous Australians to provide feedback on legislation that affects them.

The IPA’s claims against the Voice range from valid to nonsensical. Let’s take a look:

The claim: details aren’t decided

“One of the problems with [a voice] is just what do we mean by represent and how would they represent that?” — Dr Anthony Dillon

Valid. The video opens by questioning how a voice would operate. It’s a point deliberately left open by the Referendum Council. It’s also why Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt this week asked professors Marcia Langton and Tom Calma to co-lead a new design process.

The claim: there is disagreement

“There’s diversity in the Indigenous population just as there is in the non-Indigenous population.” — Dr Anthony Dillon

Valid. The Uluru Statement from the Heart was proposed by the 16-member Referendum Council, endorsed by 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, and created in consultation with 1200 other Indigenous representatives over the span of six months.

But while it was recognised as a deeply representative call to action, there are of course Indigenous critics, extending beyond both Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Anthony Dillon (featured in the video). Some delegates walked out of talks with the Referendum Council over objections to constitutional recognition.

The claim: Australia doesn’t support this

“We should look at proposals that unite Australians not the proposals that divide Australians.” — James McGrath

Eh. Good news, James: early survey suggest over 60% community support for the voice!

The claim: there are other problems to solve

“A Voice to Parliament will not fix youth suicide in Indigenous communities, it will not fix the infant mortality rate, it will not fix unemployment.” — James McGrath

Misleading. McGrath, who dismisses inequality before later acknowledging it, is arguing against progress on Indigenous self-determination on the basis it might not fix everything.

The claim: this is political segregation

“I don’t want Indigenous Queenslanders being separated from non-Indigenous Queenslanders on the basis of their race and who they can vote for and where they can vote on the basis of a special chamber or a special voice. — James McGrath

“[It’s] patronising … it’s a form of political segregation.” — Lorraine Finlay

Misleading. There is no suggestion that a voice would affect voting rights. The “special chamber” furphy has been debunked to the point where even Barnaby Joyce has unreservedly apologised for furthering it.

Peter Fray

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