What is this Voice to Parliament really about?
Let’s ask Thomas Mayo, the union official and self-described “militant” who wrote the book on the proposed constitutional change.
He sits on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Referendum Working Group, which drafted the referendum question, his signature was on the Uluru Statement and he has spent a year and a half travelling the country trying to talk Australians into changing their Constitution to include the divisive Voice.
When the PM announced the referendum question, he chose Thomas Mayo to stand at his side.
So you think he’d know something about it.
He does and has spoken candidly about the referendum’s aims, describing the Voice as a campaign tool to “punish politicians”, “abolish colonialist institutions” and “pay the rent, pay reparations and compensation”.
Rather than what the PM described as an “inspiring and unifying Australian moment”, Mayo told a conference of communists that “there is nothing that we can do that is more powerful than building a first nations' Voice, a black institution, a black political force to be reckoned with”.
At a 2021 Invasion Day protest where he described “the powers that be” as “murderers”, he said he was “sick of governments not listening to our voice” so planned “to use the rulebook of the nation to force them”.
Mayo revealed the divisive aims behind the Voice at Invasion Day and Black Lives Matter protests as well as in numerous addresses revealing the Voice’s radical origins to the Search Foundation, which describes itself as the “successor organisation of the Communist Party of Australia”.
The language of the PM and Mr Mayo couldn’t be more different.
Where Albo says, “This is a modest request”, Mayo says, “There is nothing that we can do that is more powerful than building a first nations' Voice, a black institution, a black political force to be reckoned with.”
Where Albo says, “all of us can own an equal share of what I believe will be an inspiring and unifying Australian moment”, Mayo says “A politician or party that ignores, or legislates against that collective Voice will do so at their peril because we will be organised and ready.”
Where Albo says, “What shines so brightly at the very core of its gracious request is the desire to bring us all closer together as a people reconciled”, Mayo says “We are sick of governments not listening to our voice … we are going to use the rulebook of the nation to force them.”
The Divisive Voice, in the words of Thomas Mayo
The Voice is about punishing politicians. Address to the Search Foundation, August 12, 2021 (Starting at 3:35).
“The power in the Voice is that it creates the ability for First Nations to come together through representatives that they choose, representatives that they can hold accountable and then go forth with coherent positions on how things should be, what legislation needs to be created, what legislation needs to be amended, what funding is needed and where and then be able to campaign for that and punish politicians that ignore our advice. That is where the power comes from.”
On the importance of communism to the struggle for the Voice. Address to the Search Foundation, Snapshots of Communists in Australian History, part of the celebrations marking 100 years of communism in Australia, March 22, 2021 (Starting at 24:31 and 31:20).
“I learned a lot about the importance not just of the Communist Party, but unions to my own people's struggle.”
“We understand as unionists that you don’t make an agreement with the boss without building power first, without building representative structures any more than a Communist Party or any other political party can function without structure and elected representation.”
“Do we not acknowledge or realise that politicians already know the truth, they don't need to be taught it. They ignore it. And again, political power must be a priority for us.”
“I know you comrades that are listening today will continue to support our struggle and you are an important part of the struggle just like our Communist elders have been an important part of our struggle.”
“There is nothing that we can do that is more powerful than building a first nations' Voice, a black institution, a black political force to be reckoned with that has power and authority over our own affairs, our own political prioritising.”
The Voice is about using the rulebook of the nation to force governments to listen. Invasion Day Rally Address, January 26, 2021 (Starting at 4:18).
“It is a powerful thing to shake our fist, shake our fist loud and proud at the powers that be and tell them that they’re wrong. Tell them like Aunty said, they're murderers because they are compliant with what's still happening today, the murders didn't happen 200 years ago, they're going on today. Children as young as 10 years old being locked up. They are being murdered today.”
“Every time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have built a voice that has challenged the authorities, they have destroyed it.”
“It's no good having unity once a year or every time there's an injustice because we see that over and over again. We must be smarter.”
“We need the constitutional right to have a united voice. We need the power of the Constitution behind us so we can organise like we've never organised before.”
“We have to support the campaign for a Voice the politicians cannot take away.”
“I tell you what, the government said no, the government said no but we're not taking no for an answer because we are sick of governments telling us no, we sick of governments not listening to our voice. We are going to use the rulebook of the nation to force them.”
The Voice is the first step to taxpayer funded reparations and compensation. Address to the Search Foundation, February 12, 2020 (Starting at 37:36).
“That's the wonderful thing about the Uluru Statement, the proposal for a Voice, is that it doesn’t say like what was asked earlier about seats in Parliament, it doesn't say ‘this is the answer’, it says ‘this is how we can get there’. This is the first step, it's a vital step and it puts all the explanation behind it. ‘Pay the Rent’ for example, how do we do that in a way that is transparent and that actually sees reparations and compensation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people beyond what we say and do at a rally? It is a really important campaign and there’s a very specific lot of asks and a clear invitation to the Australian people to walk with us.”
Truth telling via the Uluru Statement is a way to abolish “colonial institutions”. Address to the Search Foundation, February 12, 2020 (Starting at 10:27).
“The truth the way I see it, as a negotiator, a union official, a person that understands power and leverage, the truth is leverage. If that truth is there, then if it is embraced, it is a way to further what we need for our people in any negotiations for treaties and for other things like legislation, reform and abolishment of the old colonial institutions.”
On changing the “rulebook”. Address to Black Lives Matter protest, June 13, 2020 (Starting at 1:10).
“... John Howard, that bastard ... he took away our voice. And we've called for a voice so many times in the past because we know black lives matter and we know we need to make them listen.”
“Every other time that we've built a strong Voice, the government and the authorities have tried to silence us. But you know what? Today shows they cannot silence us. We will always come back, we will always resurge, we will come back more powerful than ever, every time they try and silence us. We must fight back.”
“It’s the politicians in Parliament that are standing in the way and we need to make sure they're held accountable.”
“I hope our brothers and sisters down south are organising as we will for another rally so that we keep going, we maintain this momentum, until we change the system, until we tear down the institutions that harm our people.”
“If every time we change the law to make it good, they change it and regress it back to what it was before, if every time we get decent policy, they tear it down, if every time we march the streets, they make broken the promises they will break, they give us the tools that the oppressor used to shut us up – inquiries, royal commissions, recommendations that they never follow through – then we must be smarter about how we fight.
“And I've been travelling the country with the Uluru Statement from the Heart and I know that we must turn this action into votes, we must turn it into changing the rulebook of the nation so that our voice will always be heard in the centre of decision making and we make sure that black lives matter.”
The bastards took our voice, May Day Rally, Port Kembla, 2023 (Starting at 3:53)
“Every time, comrades, that we have established a voice as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the bastards have taken it away from us. And let me tell you a story about how we can relate to that. John Howard, do you remember that bastard? John Howard, do you think he wants normal people, workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have a voice? No, he doesn't.”
What we imagine when we demand Uluru Statement, Voice/Treaty/Truth, Twitter, December 26, 2020
Abolish “colonial systems”, Twitter, June 7, 2022
Ignore us at your peril, Twitter, January 16, 2018
Constitutionally enshrined Voice is the way to “reparations” and “land back”, Twitter, December 26, 2020
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