John Howard reveals why Voice referendum will be a spectacular failure for Australia: ‘Why are we doing this to ourselves?’

John Howard reveals why Voice referendum will be a spectacular failure for Australia: 'Why are we doing this to ourselves?'

John Howard reveals why Voice referendum will be a spectacular failure for Australia: ‘Why are we doing this to ourselves?’

John Howard slams Anthony Albanese for ‘banal generalisations’ He also says Aboriginal Minister Linda Burney is ‘ineffective’

John Howard has predicted that the upcoming referendum on Aboriginal Voices to Parliament will not only fail, but be ‘significantly reduced’.

In an interview to mark his 84th birthday on Wednesday, the former prime minister said the Yes campaign had failed to explain how it would lead to a better life for indigenous people.

He slammed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for using ‘banal generalisations’ rather than ‘reasonable’ arguments and said Aboriginal Minister Linda Burney was ‘ineffective’.

‘I am insulted that there is such deception and such an unwillingness to roll up your sleeves and explain what is involved,’ Mr Howard told The Australian.

The country’s second-longest-serving prime minister, who served from 1996 to 2007, said major changes to the constitution should not be attempted until a large majority is secured.

Former Prime Minister John Howard (pictured centre) has predicted that the upcoming referendum on Aboriginal Voices in Parliament will be a complete failure

He believes that if the vote passes, it will cause a stalemate in the government of the day over policies affecting Indigenous Australians.

‘We must remain one people, living in one country under one law which applies to us all with equal force. If any proposal to amend the Constitution goes against this principle, I will not support it.

‘I’m probably expressing the opinion of many ordinary Australians asking: why are we doing this to ourselves?’

The man who has won four elections said that, as he sees it, instead of wasting millions of dollars on a referendum that won’t pass, both sides should be talking to each other to improve the lives of indigenous people and bring them into the mainstream of society.

For Mr Howard, the biggest weakness in the Yes case is that people are not being told why an Aboriginal voice is needed in Parliament.

Mr Albanese got into an on-air row with 2GB’s Ben Fordham last week over whether the Voice would lead to a deal and compensation, saying it wasn’t about that.

John Howard slams Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (pictured centre) for using ‘banal generalisations’ instead of ‘reasonable’ arguments about Indigenous voices in Parliament

But the Uluru statement from the heart – which the Prime Minister has pledged to ‘fully’ support – includes the so-called Makarrata Commission, which many fear could be discussed in reparations.

Mr Howard believes a deal and compensation is being kept from public view through ‘fraud’.

He said that treaties are made between sovereign states, not between a sovereign state and parts of that state.

The leader of the Liberal Party also strongly opposed reparations and defended his position that colonization was good for Australia.

‘You have to understand that in the 17th, 18th centuries, the colonization of the Australian land mass was inevitable … the luckiest thing about this country was colonization by the British,’ he said.

The date of the referendum is yet to be fixed but it is expected to be held between October and December this year.

Australians will be asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on whether to include First Nations peoples in the constitution and establish a body to advise parliament on Indigenous Australians.

What is Makarrata Commission?

A Voice to Parliament is part of the Uluru Statement from the Heart – which Prime Minister Antony Albanese has pledged to ‘fully’ support.

If Australians vote in a referendum later this year to include an Aboriginal Advisory Voice in the Constitution, a special commission known by the Aboriginal term ‘macarrata’ is the next step.

The Makarrata Commission will seek an agreement between the federal government and First Nations communities.

Makarrata is a Yolongo word that translates to ‘coming together after conflict’ and the concept of bringing ‘peace after conflict’.

This Makarrata Commission would have ‘authority to facilitate the process of agreement-making and truth-telling’ between the two groups, according to the Uluru statement from the heart.

Mr Albanese said: ‘As stated in the Uluru Statement, the Makarrata Commission will have responsibility for overseeing the treaty-making and truth-telling processes.

‘The Makarrata Commission will be independent… and will act with a voice in Parliament if it is established.’


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