Multiculturalism and the “Voice” Referendum By James Reed

Andrew Jakubowicz, a leading academic with specialisation in multiculturalism, feels that the success of the “Voice” referendum, to change the constitution to add what many conservatives (not him, of course) believe will be a woke third chamber of parliament, will depend upon multicultural Australia being mobilised to vote. What are the statistics now …everyone except the Aborigines is a migrant, and go back far enough and the Aborigines are migrants too. Anyway, the referendum will need to get the various migrant/diverse/ethnic groups interested in the Aboriginal issue. The handful of Anglo Saxons left, crawling around the floor, wailing in historical guilt, may be open to whatever Albo says, but why should migrant Australia care? No reason at all. I just asked the ethnic lady at the computer next to me what she thought about all this, and she did not care. She has just gone out the street for a smoke, and if she had her way, would happily smoke in the library; good for her. So, convince her, Albo and co. And, Albo, according to some reports hopes to pull this referendum of in November/December this year.  

Time is on our side.

“When Warren Mundine, one of the lead “no” campaigners of the Voice to parliament, suggested that migrants be recognised in the Constitution along with Indigenous Australians, it was criticised as a diversionary and potentially destabilising intervention.

It did, however, focus momentary attention on how Australia’s culturally diverse communities were being engaged on the Voice referendum – and whether they would support it.

These communities could be crucial to the success of a referendum, given their size and breadthJust over half of Australians were either born overseas or have at least one migrant parent. And nearly a quarter of Australians speak a language other than English at home.

Mobilising support in culturally and religiously diverse communities

The Voice campaign must capture the support of a majority of electors in a majority of states. In the referendum, there will be three possible voting choices – yes, no or an informal vote. The yes vote effectively requires an absolute majority to succeed, while the no vote can depend on unconvinced or confused voters to boost its impact.

Although the informal vote was less than 1% in the 1999 republic referendum, it can be high in multicultural communities. For example, the electorate of Fowler in western Sydney, which has large Vietnamese and Chinese populations, had an informal vote of 10.5% in last year’s federal election.

Recognising how important the multicultural vote is, the “yes” campaign has already identified several broad coalitions whose support is critical.

First is the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA), which announced its full support of the Voice at its annual conference in late 2022.

Its chair, former Victorian state MP Carlo Carli, has been using the media to push back at Mundine’s comments, saying there is no interest in ethnic community organisations for a multicultural Voice to parliament.

FECCA is a federation of state and regional councils, each of which comprises many individual ethnic organisations. As such, it neither controls nor completely reflects the opinions of the broad masses of unaffiliated ethnic voters.

However, in the case of the Voice, these bodies may well influence how voters think – this will be tested in coming months.”




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Wednesday, 24 July 2024

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