I FEEL SPIRIT OF UNITY GROWING
During the coming weeks in the lead-up to the October 14 referendum, we are going to hear a lot what the Voice is about and why it is important for our future.
Soon every one of us will have the opportunity to have our say. I believe we can come together and seize the opportunity to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in our Constitution.
There has been a lot of noise from the No campaign in recent weeks, often focused on everything but what this referendum is actually about.
Our history is full of unifying moments of change that were hard won.
We now look back and wonder what the fuss was all about.
Take the lead-up to the Apology — we remember it now as a moment of healing and with pride.
But before Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s powerful words there were those who tried to make it more complicated or stoke fear.
Imagine an Australia where we had failed to acknowledge our past.
So, when it comes to the No campaign, we should not be surprised. They seek to sow confusion and division, but they are not offering Australians any vision for the future.
Their position is inconsistent. They are for recognition, just not in the way those they seek to recognise have asked for.
They say the Voice will not do anything to close the gap and will derail government. They are saying no to Indigenous people seeking responsibility for their own affairs but offering no plan for how we might see better outcomes.
Put simply, if No wins then no one wins.
Luckily, Australians are smarter than that. They want more. People see through the politics. They want unity. This referendum will be a unifying moment for our nation.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart asks Australians to walk together, to deal with our past and to respond by establishing a Voice to Parliament. It was the humble request from years of discussion within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. They simply seek to be heard.
The Yes position is clear, consistent and simple. It seeks to inform Australians about the proposal before them. It is not muddled by cries of “we don’t know”.
People across the political spectrum have joined this campaign because they believe recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is the right thing to do. They believe 65,000 years of culture and tradition on this land is worth celebrating.
We believe in the Voice because we know that listening to First Nations people will enable governments to make better decisions about the issues that affect them.
We believe in the Voice because we know that all Australians want better results for Indigenous people in health, education, employment, and housing.
I am confident the Australian people will make an informed decision in the upcoming referendum on the Voice. I have confidence in our democracy to foster respectful and informative discourse in the lead-up to our national decision.
Information is everywhere. For those wanting to hear about the Voice, you can attend one of the many forums organised across the State, read material from the Australian Electoral Commission arriving in your letterbox, talk to a neighbour or workmate, or check out yes23.com.au to find out more.
Australians believe in a fair go. A country where everyone can meet their full potential, including our First Nations people.
I sense the spirit of unity in the community. People want to help.
I believe in a culture that offers Indigenous Australians the same opportunity for a better life. It starts when they are recognised and consulted. That’s why I am voting Yes to a Voice.
Zaneta Mascarenhas is the Federal Member for Swan.
First published in the Kalgoorlie Miner 23/09/23