Voice Roused Racists And 'Trumpian' Politics: Senator

Labor senator Jana Stewart says the Voice campaign emboldened a form of pre-existing racism that allowed some Australians to "say the quiet part out loud".

Date: 18-10-2023 04:00

Voice Roused Racists And 'Trumpian' Politics: Senator

The voice referendum emboldened anti-Indigenous racism that already underlies Australian society, a First Nations senator says.

Jana Stewart said Indigenous communities around the nation were in mourning after Australians voted against enshrining a First Nations advisory body within the constitution during Saturday’s referendum.

Reflecting on the toll the public discussion took on her and other Indigenous Australians, the Victorian Labor senator said she had never had to use the ‘block’ and ‘delete’ functions on social media as much as she did during the campaign.

“People who hold particular views about First Nations people were emboldened to say the quiet bit out loud,” she told ABC Radio National on Wednesday.

“That’s not to say that every person who wrote ‘no’ on the ballot paper is racist – I think lots of people went into the ballot box with fear instead of facts and that’s an incredibly sad outcome for the referendum.

“I really hope that Trumpian style politics doesn’t become a regular feature of our political campaigns here in Australia.”

However, the Mutthi Mutthi and Wamba Wamba woman says this racism is far from new.

“It’s always been there and the referendum and – the way the ‘no’ campaign and Peter Dutton and his team of wreckers really carried themselves through the referendum – really emboldened people and brought it out,” she said.

“Now we know the extent of the challenge that we face in this country, it gives us an opportunity to do something about it … We’ve got a lot of work to do – lots of education to do – in the nation.”

But first, Senator Stewart believes the nation needs to give Indigenous communities space to reflect and grieve.

Independent MP Zoe Daniels said the government must begin legislating rights for Indigenous people with their guidance.

“We don’t want to make it worse and also there has to be social licence and public support for that,” she told reporters on Wednesday.

“I don’t think we can push all the responsibility back on Indigenous people either.

“This has to be a continued process. I would encourage the government (not to) crawl away and drop it.”

Ms Daniel has already reached out to opposition spokeswoman for Indigenous Australians and ‘no’ campaigner Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, and Senator Stewart.

While she does not have any concrete plans yet, Ms Daniel has stood against the opposition’s proposals for a royal commission into child sexual abuse of Indigenous children.

“I’m not in favour of it,” she said.

“I fear that it will become a form of witch hunt and could be very hurtful.”

13YARN 13 92 76

Aboriginal Counselling Services 0410 539 905


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