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Dismantling the ‘No’ Case

Mary Crooks AO, Executive Director of the Victorian Women’s Trust delivered the ‘Women for Yes” Address on Sunday 13 August 2023. The following is an extract from her speech:

No, we don’t. A mountain of detail exists, including the 262-page design report from Marcia Langton and Tom Calma. It was delivered in 2021 which means all senior political figures have had at least two years to read it. 

We were taken into a war with Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction — people did not say, we need more detail. The Labor Opposition went to the polls last year with a policy to create an Anti-Corruption Commission — people did not say, we need more detail.

No, it’s not. It is an Advisory Body. It will enhance our democracy. Media concentration in our country and undisclosed political donations are the sorts of things that compromise our system of government and endanger our democracy.

No, it’s not. It starts to end over 200 years of discrimination against First Nation peoples.

Some don’t. The overwhelming majority do. With every Federal and State election, there is never voter homogeneity so why do we insist otherwise in this case. If the majority of Indigenous Australians were opposed, it would be different.

No, it’s not. Ministers’ diaries are filled every week with representations from individuals, representatives of organisations and lobbyists.

No, it doesn’t. When egregious harm has been committed against Indigenous Australians, we need to do something special to redress that harm. We acknowledge it and seek to right the wrong. A mature democracy does this, as well as addressing other inequities across our society. 

No, it won’t. The Productivity Commission has recently affirmed the importance of listening and understanding the lived experience of Indigenous communities. Place-based solutions that overcome past failures of government will be money better spent.

No, it doesn’t. Since the very beginning the 1901 Constitution has included race-based powers and racial exclusion. This is about recognising the original inhabitants of our country by adding them to the birth certificate of modern Australia. 

No, it’s not. It will help further heal the deep wound created by our troubled past.

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