Tonight, I want to talk about the Voice referendum, which will be held in less than five weeks. I'm concerned about a few things. I'm concerned about the unfair playing field that the Albanese government has created in setting the rules of this referendum, rules that favour the 'yes' side. The truth is that the Prime Minister has made a mockery of this whole process. He's taken a lot of shortcuts, trashing convention along the way.
There was no constitutional convention. There was no attempt to build unity on an amendment that would have recognised Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in our Constitution. The parliamentary committee process was cut short. There have been no official 'yes' or 'no' campaigns so that all Australians can access and consider the competing arguments. Instead, it's been division and wedge politics from the start. Labor have stacked the deck for the 'yes' campaign at every turn, and, sadly, the Prime Minister has divided us as a country.
But he hasn't done it alone. He's done it with the big end of town. Big business, big tech, big sport and big finance have all stood with the Prime Minister. 'Yes' enjoys huge financial, cultural, political and economic power in this debate, including free flights from Qantas and big dollars from big business—BHP, $2 million; Rio Tinto, $2 million; Wesfarmers, $2 million—along with support from Woodside Energy, National Australia Bank, ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, Woolworths, Coles, Telstra and so on. The Prime Minister refused to grant equal public funding for each side of the referendum because he knew he could count on big money flocking to the 'yes' campaign, and they sure are delivering.
Along with big business and big finance, big sport is backing the Prime Minister's divisive Voice campaign. Every major sporting code is on the 'yes' ticket, and big tech like Facebook run a form of soft censorship with their underhanded RMIT fact-checking operation.
Now, for the average Australian out there, it must feel like you don't have a voice—that you can't be heard. Tonight I'm giving Peter from Queensland a voice inside this chamber. Peter sent me an email last week, and I think he speaks for many Australians out there: those who love their country but who don't have the money or the power or the access like those in the 'yes' campaign. Here is what Peter wrote to me on Saturday 2 September:
I do not need to be welcomed to my country.
I have great-grand-uncles who fought in the First World War including Gallipoli and the Western Front in World War 2.
My father and his brother fought in New Guinea, my father-in-law fought in Singapore and became a Japanese prisoner of war.
My mother's brother died in World War 2, they were all trying to save our country.
My brother, three brothers-in-law and myself have all served in our country's defence force.
My nephew did two tours of Afghanistan and my son is in the army now.
I have uncles and cousins who have also served and or are still serving, everyone of us serving our—my—country. I've done 40+ years of community service with local clubs, from coaching juniors and seniors to administration to regional and state level, all of it voluntary.
I've worked for 50 years, paying taxes to my country.
I do not need to be welcomed to my country every day on TV and radio, and at every sporting event, because it's my country as well.
Hello—I was born here, my family has over 150+ years of history here.
I am not responsible for what happened 230+ years ago and I can do nothing about that, I cannot change history, no one can.
But I do want to live in a united country.
Indigenous people I have grown up with, I have served with, worked with, employed, coached, trained and played sport with, lived with, helped, drank, partied and cried with.
So Stop The Division, PLEASE.
Stop trying to divide us, if we are one then we are many, but divided we are nothing, divided we are gone.
Be united for our children and our grandchildren so they have hope and a future, be united and we will be strong.
Are you? I am!!! AUSTRALIAN.
That's from Peter in Queensland. Peter, I'm very glad to give you a voice tonight in this chamber, the House of Representatives, the people's House.
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