Leading Aboriginal elder ‘Riverbank Frank’ declares why he’s voting No to the Voice and how it will set back race relations: ‘It’s repugnant’
Wiradjuri elder ‘Riverbank Frank’ Doolan says he will vote ‘no’ in the referendum on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament as he believes it is racially divisive.
The respected community leader and poet, who lives in a caravan on the banks of the Macquarie River on the outskirts of Dubbo in central NSW, said he believes the change would create divisions between Indigenous communities and the wider Australia.
Australians will be asked on October 14 to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on whether to enshrine an indigenous body in the constitution to be consulted on any proposed laws affecting Aboriginal people and the people of Torres Strait Island.
Mr Doolan told journalist Hugh Riminton this week: ‘Amending the Constitution along racial lines, I find that repugnant’.
He sent Riminton a follow-up message saying he has no intention of “taking controversy to court” and “holds no animosity toward the Yes voters,” native or otherwise.
“I love my people and I love their right to vote as they see fit. I’m just a black man with an opinion. Respect, tolerance, peace,” he wrote.
Aboriginal elder ‘Riverbank Frank’ Doolan has revealed he will vote ‘No’ in the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum and says he believes the change will be divisive
Riminton’s post on X, formerly Twitter, sparked a flood of responses.
“I meet some Aborigines here who say ‘No’,” wrote one person from the Northern Territory.
‘Some want a treaty first. Some just No. But many more want an absolute ‘Yes’. There are four Land Councils in NT representing 30 percent of Territorians who are Indigenous. All four support the Voice,” they said.
Riminton agreed, saying most Aboriginal people he spoke to on the Voice plan to support it in the Oct. 14 poll.
‘From hard, enthusiastic ‘Yes’, to ‘meh, yes’. The ‘no’s’ tend to fall into ‘it doesn’t make a difference’ or ‘it’s just a damn advisory – we need to do better than that!’
Mr Doolan previously told The Western Herald, the local Bourke newspaper where he comes from before moving to Dubbo, that the Voice to His Ears sounded like a new version of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) – the former body representing the indigenous people. people who were abolished.
“None of us know too much about the Voice to Parliament, but what’s being suggested, and presented with an omnipotent flourish that leads us to believe they’re doing something great for Australia, is a rehashed version of ATSIC,” he said.
“As an Indigenous man, I reject the government’s claim that we need another voice to understand and hear Aboriginal people,” Doolan said.
“They’ve known about the Aboriginal people since the time of Whitlam, when we had our chief minister for Aboriginal affairs.”
Mr Doolan, who lives in a caravan on the outskirts of Dubbo (left), sent a follow-up text message to Riminton further explaining his views (right)
Wiradjuri elder ‘Riverbank Frank’ Doolan has explained why he is voting no on Indigenous vote in parliament
Opposition to the indigenous vote in parliament has now moved to the majority, according to a new poll.
Newspoll, conducted for The Australian, showed that support for constitutional change has fallen to 38 percent, while support for the ‘no’ vote has risen to 53 percent.
Successive polls have shown that support for the vote is waning.
Success requires a majority of voters and a majority of states voting in favor.
Despite the polls, Employment Secretary Tony Burke said he was confident the referendum would pass.
“(Opposition leader) Peter Dutton has also underestimated the goodwill of many liberal voters here,” he told ABC radio on Monday.
“There is generosity among the Australian people and as people get closer to the date, focus their minds and look at the proposal, we see something where there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Mr Dutton has confirmed that should this referendum fail, he will hold a second plebiscite proposing formal recognition of the indigenous people in the constitution, but without the advisory role of the Vote.
“Yes, I believe very strongly that this is the right thing to do,” he told Sky News.
“But enshrining a vote in the constitution leads to division.”
Opposition leader Peter Dutton (pictured center with Jacinta Nampijinpa Price) has said he would hold another referendum to recognize First Nations Australians in the constitution, but would not consider the Voice.
Under Labour’s plan, which follows the Uluru Declaration from the Heart, the Voice could advise parliament and the executive government on issues affecting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Mr Dutton again argued that the Vote would ‘divide the country down the middle’ and would not deliver practical results for Indigenous Australians.
Megan Davis, an Aboriginal activist and one of the Voice’s prominent supporters, said Aboriginal people would not accept the impotent constitutional recognition Mr Dutton is proposing.
“There is a consensus among Australians on this point: there is no point in going to a referendum if it is not going to change the everyday lives of First Nations peoples,” said Professor Davis, one of the architects of the Uluru statement, Sunday to reporters. .
“There is no evidence anywhere in the world that a statement of recognition (in itself) changes anything.”
Uluru Dialogue strategic adviser Kirstie Parker said Mr Dutton’s comments showed he was not listening to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the majority of whom support the Voice according to YouGov and Ipsos polls released earlier this year are held.
“Some people have said the referendum is an expensive exercise, and yet here we have an opposition proposing to spend the same amount of money on something that wouldn’t change lives,” Parker said.
The Uluru Dialogue – the organization dedicated to advancing the Uluru Declaration – would continue to fight this through “face-to-face conversations” with Australians, Prof. Davis said.
Both the Yes and No campaigns will be stepped up in the run-up to the referendum in October
Nationals leader David Littleproud backed his Liberal colleague Dutton on Sunday, saying the referendum would pass “with flying colors” if the Voice’s scope was clearer and narrower.
“If it does happen on October 14, I pledge my leadership to restart a process to make sure we get to constitutional recognition,” he told Nine’s Weekend Today program.
The ‘Yes’ campaign announced on Sunday that it had received permission to use John Farnham’s famous song ‘You’re the Voice’.
Asked if he thought Farnham’s support would make a difference to the ‘Yes’ campaign, Mr Littleproud claimed Australians don’t understand what a vote for parliament means.
“The line, ‘You are the voice, try to understand it’ is great,” he said.
“Maybe the prime minister would like to think about that today.”
The referendum’s success depends on majority support nationwide and in four of Australia’s six states.
The referendum question reads: ‘A Proposed Act: To amend the Constitution to recognize Australia’s first peoples by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vote. Do you approve of this proposed change?’
If successful, the government will design the specific form of the vote, which will be implemented through legislation discussed and passed by the federal parliament.