A spring voice, 23 Sept

As I start work in the garden, just as we turn into the invisible sun, rain softly starts, the first rain for ages. Four days ago, the Bureau of Meteorology formally declares an El Niño weather event this year, as hot and dry conditions sweep south-east Australia.

It’s spring. Flowers are finding their blooms. If Australians understood where they lived, for instance, here in Gumbaynggirr Country, there would be less racism.

The voice referendum (14 October) – at last putting First Nations people in the constitution – is will be the biggest electoral event in Australia’s history. There are more than 17.6 million Australians enrolled to vote in the referendum, the largest number and the highest ever enrolment rate at 97.7%.

The problems is the issue bringing out racism and stupidity: ‘It’s a joke. This is a grab for power. This is their last gasp. It’s a sort of an ego thing that they want to stick it up the white man, quote, unquote, because they think this is really good fun. And they don’t, I would argue, they don’t care about their own.’ Gary Johns, former Labor minister, a director of the major no campaign organisation, Australians for Unity.[i]

95% of the garden is natives, but we also have exotics like this wisteria (which bees, incl. native bees like)

‘Australia — where pointing out racism is now worse than racism itself. We’re told not to call racist No supporters racist, for fear of upsetting them — as if delicately protecting their feelings is going to win the referendum . . .  Right from the outset, No campaigners have been calling a Voice to Parliament — and, for many of them, the very idea of recognition of First Peoples — ‘racist’. Peter Dutton [leader of the opposition] has joined in, saying the Voice would ‘re-racialise’ Australia.’ Bernard Keane[ii]

‘The astonishing lies of the no campaign burn like lurid rockets in our sky. We must not go saying no. Only a yes vote opens the gate that has been closed for 250 years.’ Thomas Keneally[iii]

‘No campaign’s squalid tactics will pollute politics . . . It is wrong not to call out racism and lies. It is not acceptable to pretend they haven’t featured in the No campaign.’ Sydney Morning Herald[iv]

‘People across Australia are receiving unauthorised pamphlets that make false claims and share conspiracy theories about the Indigenous voice to parliament. Claims of “apartheid” and a United Nations takeover are among the false information promoted by the materials.’ The Guardian[v]

Over the weekend, we witnessed scores of Australians rallying harmoniously in support of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. They donned badges, t-shirts, hats and held placards with messages of solidarity and support.

Where then, is this same conviction from the ‘No’ side? Why aren’t we seeing ‘No’ campaigners out in the streets, brochures in hand, gently persuading those around them to follow suit? . . . For the worst of the ‘no’ voters, the behaviour is more insidious. They’re spouting racism and bigotry in dark corners of X. They’re using this moment in history to capitalise on the worst impulses of their fellow citizens and succumbing to the fear and toxicity themselves.’ Tarla Lambert[vi]

‘Without wishing to blow this up into a big event, because I don’t want to take on the internet, some of the stuff we’re seeing still, frankly, is tinfoil-hat-wearing bonkers-mad conspiracy theories about us using Dominion voting machines.’ Tom Rogers, Commissioner, Australian Electoral Commission[vii]

‘While some have argued that post-modernism is a pre-digital phenomenon, many of the phenomena of post-modernism—especially the notions of simulacra, fakery, irrationality, scorn for truth and doubt about reality—have reached their apogees.’ Stuart Jeffries[viii]


Reality is changing. Global warming will change reality for most of the people on this planet, only the rich will be able to insulate themselves from the heat, fires, floods, diseases, shortages of fresh water, food.

[i] Sarah Basford Canales and Josh Butler, ‘Linda Burney calls for Gary Johns to be sacked from no campaign after fresh barrage of offensive comments unearthed’, Guardian, 21 Sep 2023.

[ii] Sep 18, 2023.

[iii] Thomas Keneally, opinion piece, Guardian, 21 Sep 2023.

[iv] 14 Sept 2023

[v] Ariel Bogle and Josh Taylor, ‘Voice pamphlets: false claims and conspiracy theories distributed across Australia’, The Guardian, 21 Sep 2023.

[vi] Tarla Lambert, ‘No’ voters aren’t proud of their decision. It’s why most of them stay silent.’ 19 Sep, 2023.

[vii] Josh Butler, ‘AEC says staff threatened online amid ‘bonkers’ criticism over voice referendum ticks and crosses’, Guardian, 21 Sep 2023.

[viii] Stuart Jeffries, Everything, All the Time, Everywhere, Verso 2021.


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