Proposals for indigenous constitutional recognition cannot be justified By Nigel Jackson
Australians must resist the pressure to fragment our nation
One of the greatest strengths of Australia in a world that is always more or less dangerous is its integrity as a nation. One continent, one people constitutionally and politically. It is an elementary fact of human existence that unity of a community gives strength, while disunity weakens it and may even eventually bring it to an end. Thus it is surprising that such intense efforts are being mounted by a de facto coalition of idealists, corporate bodies, mainstream media and the major political parties to achieve what is euphemistically and misleadingly termed “indigenous constitutional recognition”, but which really amounts to a decisive step on the way to splitting Australia in two. Indeed, it is so odd that it is reasonable to ask whether the power of this movement, at bottom, does not derive from an extra-national elite that has its own agenda which has little to do with Aboriginal welfare but a great deal to do with control of peoples and the corralling of wealth and power for ultimately selfish purposes.
The existence of the United Nations Organisation and its history since 1945 gives good reason for us to suspect such; and a number of studies of the world’s political order, such as Carroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope and Pedro Banos’s How They Rule the World, appear to confirm it. A divided Australia would be easier for an elite to manipulate than one united and of one mind to determine and ensure its survival, quality of life and future development. The case against indigenous constitutional recognition has been well established by commentators such as Keith Windschuttle, Frank Salter, Gary Johns, Greg Sheridan and Andrew Bolt. Such a move would be inequitable towards all non-indigenous Australians. It would fatally jeopardise our national unity and thus both our internal stability and external security. It would also be unjustified because the status of today’s indigenous Australians is not such as to ethically give them the standing from which to make a valid claim to what amounts to constitutionally endorsed favouritism and the insertion of racist privilege into a constitution which at present is free of such unfairness.
This issue must be viewed solely in terms of the present and future inhabitants of Australia. Thus John Wylie is engaging in irrelevance (“Indigenous call deserves response from the heart”, 18/6) when he writes that by indigenous constitutional recognition we would honour “more than 60,000 years of continuous inhabitation of this country” by Aboriginals before British and European settlement. It needs no alteration of our constitution to do that, but, more importantly, that history does not somehow, by magic or whatever arcane means, empower today’s indigenous Australians with some kind of special authority and entitlement. No part of this continent was ever taken from any living Australian and no living Australian today can claim to have been dispossessed of it. That the High Court decision (by a 4 to 3 majority) in the Mabo case, whereby four judges plucked new “rights” from nowhere, flies in the face of those facts does not negate them. Nor does the definition of an Aboriginal established by the first Whitlam government bring into being any Aboriginal nation or nations which could be in a valid position to enact a treaty with the sovereign nation of Australia under Her Majesty the Queen.
The fact is that in the past the Aboriginal tribes living on this continent lost control of it and a new nation was established which cannot now be undone without massive injustice and chicanery. The majority of those identifying today as “indigenous” not only carry some non-indigenous blood but have also benefited hugely from the infrastructure built up here by Australians in the last two and a half centuries. Thus they can hardly complain of injustice resulting from the foundation of Australia. It is thus clear that Australians – all Australians of whatever ethnicity – are under no obligation, legal, moral or spiritual, to engage in “a generous and respectful accommodation with indigenous Australians.” Indeed, the word “indigenous” is unsatisfactorily used by Wylie and others. From one aspect, most of those termed “indigenous” are only part-indigenous. There are few full-bloods on the continent. From another aspect, anyone born here, whether carrying Aboriginal blood or not, is indigenous. Kenneth Wiltshire (“Voice to Parliament too important to get wrong”, 18/3) is disingenuous in asking “what all the fuss is about” regarding the proposals of the seductively named “Uluru Statement from the Heart”, when he makes no effort to counter the well-established case against constitutional entrenchment in any form.
Moreover, it is not just in parliament that “a full debate” is needed, with formal yes and no cases prepared before a referendum proposal is put to the people, but in the nation as a whole. As the Brexit logjam has shown, on a great issue of national policy a parliament may be unrepresentative of the people as a whole.
Nigel Jackson is a Melbourne writer and conservative political commentator.