Sometimes weird things happen in politics and you almost have to slap your face before you look again to check if you've missed something.
So it has been with a lot of the recent "yes" to the Voice campaigning. The most recent advertisement represents an all-time low in political advertising. The accusation of low-life campaigning is made on several counts.
First and foremost using a child as the central spokesperson. Children are in plenty of advertisements but for consumer products. Who knows where this gorgeous kid will be in 10 or 15 years? What will his politics be? Will he want his life to be associated with the Voice campaign?
Then there's the simple crude, guilt-laden emotional blackmail that puts the proposition about as obliquely as "unless you vote for this I might not get to go to a good school because I'm Indigenous. So it will be your fault. You carry the guilt." Apart from being guilt-based advertising which is itself offensive it has one other glaring problem. The proposition is a crock of.
Why run this type of desperation advertising? Well if the "yes" advertisement simply told the truth, namely that they think yet another layer of bureaucracy in Canberra would fix things there'd be not a roll of gaffer tape left in the stores. There'd be such a rush because we'd all have to use it to stop our sides splitting with laughter.
Think that's a ridiculous proposition? Imagine this ad. A person comes on screen and gravely tells us what we already know, that the hordes of Indigenous councils, corporations and advisory bodies and the billions willingly contributed by taxpayers to remedy an unsatisfactory situation to eliminate Indigenous disadvantage over decades hasn't been working anywhere near as effectively as we want. A polite person will say "Sherlock, you shock me".
Then they condescendingly offer you the chance they don't own, to be "on the right side of history".
You're a bit concerned that this person may be one of those know-all whackers who is frankly in need of our excellent health system and who thinks most of the rest of us are beyond redemption. But you remain focused just in case a pearl of wisdom emerges. The poor sod didn't bring a full pack of cards to the game so they suggest something so dumb you almost explode with laughter. To stop your sides splitting, you run for the gaffer tape.
Having just told us how all the ineffective and wasteful bureaucracy just isn't working they say "if we just add another bureaucratic layer based in Canberra on racial lines everything will be better". Trying to hide your incredulity, you wonder who thought up this rubbish. You ask yourself if anybody is going to ask where all the billions and billions of dollars over the last 20 years has gone?
You know that kid in the ad deserves the same chance as any other Australian kid to a good education. And you desperately want us to ensure he and all kids get that chance. You'd like to ensure his mum isn't regularly bashed up and you like to be as sure that his sister isn't sexually assaulted. But you know that another layer of Indigenous bureaucracy in Canberra isn't going to do it. If anything it will hinder progress of everyone except those who are a part of and benefit from the new bureaucracy.
MORE AMANDA VANSTONE:
You know that we owe that kid and his mother an explanation as to where the billions of dollars that have been funnelled into Indigenous advisory bodies, policies and councils, just in that mother's lifetime have actually gone. She and her kids would be dumbfounded if we told them how much had been spent because they've not enjoyed any benefit or any more safety or increased opportunity. Ditto all others in the position of doubting what their chances are.
If you think the Voice is the solution ask yourself, could you go and look the mums of kids in town camps around Alice in the eye or the mums in remote communities and tell them "it's all going to be better now because we're adding another level of bureaucracy and advice in Canberra".
Additionally, it's just insulting to all the good hardworking people all across Australia working in Aboriginal health services and myriads of other organisations, doing great work and making a real difference on the ground to treat their work as counting for nothing.
One problem with the Voice proposal is that an enormous chunk - if not most - of the policy responsibility for what needs to change lies with state governments. OK they are not exemplars of a perfect system but that's where the major responsibility lies. Think domestic violence.
Every morning my eyes are lucky enough to soak in a painting by the now deceased Daisy Andrews. One strong-willed daughter predeceased her. She went off treatment and came home because living off country away from family wasn't really living. She was a warrior for a women's legal service in Fitzroy Crossing. If you'd been bashed up, the defendant would get legal aid and they therefore couldn't act for you, the victim. Her daughter was successful but didn't live to see the funding announcement. Daisy, distraught, was there.
Sometime later she was in hospital and it seemed a good idea to ring to tell her how great her work was and ask was there anything she needed. She was very unwell and probably wondered who the crazy lady on the phone was. The answer was heart-wrenching. She whispered, underpants. Seriously, the problems are at the grassroots. Daisy's painting reminds me of that every day.
The solution is not in the constitution and it's not in Canberra. It's in chasing down where that money goes, redirecting the waste and ensuring a much fairer distribution of billions of dollars. Get it to the grassroots. And put the women, like Daisy's daughter and other strong women, in charge for a decade or so.