Australia and the world are in the midst of a tussle on the political and cultural stages. Conservatives vs progressives: A battle for hearts and minds. Those in the previously unassailable dominant cohort, white folk in the main, are being told that they have something to lose by their political leaders. Meanwhile, those growing minority groups and the lefty liberals want more progress on human rights and economic equality for all. The hardline right are playing culture wars by bandying about terms like ‘woke’ and ‘political correctness’ to attract more support from those on their side who have been economically left behind.
An Australian Struggle Between The Past & Hope For A Better Future
The truth is that these folks haven’t been short changed by progressive policies but by big business and their corporate masters. However, many people just don’t want to believe the bleeding obvious and prefer to buy more baloney from those they feel more comfortable with. The conservative side employ smoke and mirrors to whip up bogey men and women for their supporters to vilify. LGBTQI folk, especially kids, are prime targets for those who think that these people should not exist. Folk with different coloured skin and from foreign backgrounds are perennial targets for conservatives and their culture wars. Refugees and boat people! Women who have been short changed by society for millennia and still do not have equity in terms of same pay for same job in many sectors remain neglected in the halls of power. People with a disability are stuck in a time warp here in Australia, where their lives are shunned from the economic wellbeing enjoyed by the rest of the nation.
First Nation’s Australians are not recognised as such by the constitution and continue to suffer accordingly.
No vs Yes: The Referendum Vote for An Indigenous Voice to Parliament
Peter Dutton doesn’t want Australia to be re-racialised, whatever that means. Denial of the endemic racism in this country is a favourite of white Australians. Aborigines are okay if they know their place at the bottom of the heap and they keep their traps shuts. Adam Goodes! Stan Grant! Racism? Nothing to see here, according to Peter Dutton, the Liberal and National parties, and ordinary Australians. A vote yes for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament is, according to Dutton, something that will split the fabric of the nation. What if that fabric has been one of quiet moral neglect and general indifference to the plight of generations of Aboriginal people. Trouble in Alice Springs with Indigenous youth, Peter Dutton says, send in the army. Ever heard of a ‘cry for help’ in psychological terms? No, it’s a law and order issue for the leader of the conservative opposition in Australia. Their 10 years in government did little to improve the welfare of Indigenous Australians. Apparently, that is okay and what the conservatives want for the ongoing future of Australia.
The Conservative No vs the Progressive Yes
Conservatives vs progressives: A battle for hearts and minds is in full swing. The truth is that Australia has never properly recognised its First Nation’s people, rather it has swept them under a rug of normalised neglect and indifference. Racism has remained in the hearts and homes and workplaces around the country. Conservative leaders rarely call it out for what it is and play to it for the votes it brings to their candidates. The Indigenous Voice to Parliament campaign emerging out of the Uluru Statement from the Heart is opening up this can of worms long buried. Peter Dutton may see this as a bad thing but no real healing can occur without first exposing and then cleaning the wound. Conservatives vs progressives: A battle for hearts and minds of Australians. It is analogous to a family with a history of abuse in denial about it. There are those that wish to put it behind them without owning the problem. John Howard. Peter Dutton. These folk lack the awareness to understand that whatever you resist persists.
We, as a nation, have to muster the moral courage to face the dark truth of our past and where that has left First Nation’s Australians.
Family is important to most Australians, perhaps the most important thing. Families give their offspring an economic leg up wherever possible. If generations of your family were hamstrung by institutionalised racism over many decades where would that put you on the ladder of material wealth and power? Like the vast majority of Aboriginal people you would be far from the first rank. Your family’s wealth and prospects would not be up there with the Murdoch’s, Turnbull’s, Abbott’s, Morrison’s, Porter’s, and their ilk. The economic reality of a couple of centuries of determined neglect, hate, fear, and disenfranchisement is, often, poverty, incarceration, alcoholism, disease, and premature death.
There are still many white Australians who cross the street to avoid close contact with their dark skinned compatriots. Too many prefer not to live anywhere near their Indigenous brothers and sisters. Lots of ordinary Aussies listen to the racist news reports from Sky News Australia and read the right wing opinion pieces published in Murdoch’s monopoly of newspapers around the nation. They have had to be cajoled by sporting bodies not to abuse champion Aboriginal footballers from the sidelines. A determined section of fans troll these players on social media, seemingly, without fear of prosecution by any Australian authorities.
Racism is the vilification crime that Australians will not acknowledge and the powers that be do not do anything to stamp out. It walks and talks among us like the elephant in the room.
There is a battle going for the hearts and minds of Australians between the forces of conservatism and those wishing to see progress being made. The upcoming referendum vote for an Indigenous voice to parliament is an opportunity to begin a process of recognition, and, perhaps, healing. What side of history will you be on?
Robert Sudha Hamilton