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HomeVolume 28People with 'minimal claims to Aboriginal ancestry' drive Voice campaign

People with ‘minimal claims to Aboriginal ancestry’ drive Voice campaign

A former Territory politician wrote to Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton urging a “No” vote in the Voice referendum later this year.

Roger “Stainless” Steele was a CLP member in the NT Legislative Assembly from 1974 to 1987. He had portfolios including transport and industry, primary production, tourism and assisting the Treasurer and was the Speaker from 1984 to 1986.

He provided the text of his letter Mr Dutton to the Alice Springs News. This is an edited version.

There is no such thing as one voice for most Aboriginal people. The high levels of disagreement and division on key issues can lead to aggressive responses and even violence. The Voice can only exacerbate such disagreements.

Representation of issues has been left largely to urban Aboriginal people, rather than people in rural and remote regions of Australia, whose needs are clearly the greatest. 

As pointed out by Senator Jacinta Price, many of the Aboriginal people advocating for the Voice come from relatively comfortable urban backgrounds.

It does not appear that Aboriginal people in rural and remote Australia have received adequate representation on the current working group.

Ted Egan has been closely involved with Aboriginal people from wide and diverse backgrounds for most of his life.

He recently pointed out in the Alice Springs News that the Voice signals [compensation] claims by around 200 nations for dispossession and genocide as well as 200 plus years of rent.

Many see this as a gigantic “con” mounted by people with minimal claims to Aboriginal ancestry.

This group of people has been expanding [in response to] financial benefits for those claiming an Aboriginal background.

Some in the wider community, facing tough economic times, are not likely to quietly accept such increased financial and government favouritism resulting from the Voice, to those with questionable claims to their ancestry.

It is essential that the Liberal Party takes a similar stand to the Nationals by opposing the woolly, feel good, emotional approach adopted by the Prime Minister.

The Voice is an assault on our democratic system.

It is very important that government efforts are vastly improved in addressing the severe disadvantages faced by Aboriginal people in rural and remote communities. Major reforms [are needed] in employment and training, education and health and well-being [governed by] a headline agreement with each community.

This should not be left to mid-level bureaucrats, with little real knowledge and skills in the area. Senior government Ministers should be involved.

Agreements should be “bottom-up” not “top-down” as proposed by the Voice.

PHOTO: Mr Steele flanked by Roy Harrington (left) and Humbert Jack who were working with Mr Steele when he was manager of Victoria River Downs station. Facebook image.


  1. We should do what other nations do – no-one can register without being 50% Aboriginal in ancestry at a minimum. That is easy to establish with the birth record of one fully Aboriginal parent. Anything less should be dismissed.
    And, even if registered no extra benefits should be available unless there is a demonstrated need.

  2. To suggest the Voice is an assault on our democracy is absurd.
    It was the Coalition which drove the Voice Report after the then Minister Ken Wyatt requested that his newly formed NIAA department produce the report which has been finalised for some time.
    It would appear many haven’t bothered to read it but see it as a uniquely political play by the labelled Marxist Socialist Labour Party.
    That nonsense is far from the truth and disingenuous. This nonsense is why the Voice is a grand idea.
    What has since happened is for the CLP to suddenly oppose this opportunity making outrageous claims and trying to create fear in the Australian community through misinformation, mistruth and lies.
    “We are going to lose our Rights and our Homes, we are going to live in an Apartheid state!” (Not that we aren’t already!!).
    For goodness sake when did we hear that before? The Jacinta Price factor is no doubt a wonderful personal opportunity for her, however, it is an affront to the NT as our elected Senator.
    She is yet another politician who is supposed to represent the people of the NT and now claims the moral high ground with a completely closed and negative view of a Voice while offering no solutions but assimilation through the offerings of her Institue for Public Affairs membership and its standard language of wokeness, virtue signally, and racism.
    Jacinta made her mind up about the Voice before the idea came about. “I knew I loved you before I met you is playing through my mind!” (Savage Garden.) The Canadian Jordan Peterson and American Candace Owens would indeed be impressed.
    I for one would not want a Federal politician to decide on the advancement of Aboriginal People any further.
    They have failed miserably particularly in the context of the NT.
    The Voice will enable a more informed and solution driven process for and by Aboriginal people.
    This Voice will come from remote, regional and urban Voices directly to a Parliament and its democratic systems which might, as Jacinta suggests “grow some ears” and begin to listen to Aboriginal led solutions that are unique to complexities of many First Nations cultures.
    We need ALL politicians to respect a change in direction while enabling Aboriginal people to thrive.
    I thought about taking a picture of myself next to my Aboriginal friends and sending it to the Alice Springs News however I would much prefer they have their own systemic voice and recognition in the Constitution to acknowledge their special and unique status on their lands.
    Such respect will benefit and liberate us all without fear and by allowing Aboriginal people to determine their own futures. We must stop telling them what is best for them.

  3. The whole argument has been driven by money and people in urban areas living on philosophy rather than practicalities.
    How many of them are living in partly completed houses as is happening in many of the town camps here because the money is swallowed up by the “in between people” and organisations?
    It’s difficult to see the benefits that should have come from the millions of dollars thrown here and the Voice will not change that but probably entrench a system which has not worked for the benefit of the bush people and their pride.
    Because my own children have pigmentation in their skin they could claim Aboriginality and all the financial benefits that go with that but will not and have not done so.
    I know of several cases here where women have encouraged cross cultural relationships in order to obtain those benefits.
    Yet in the 40 years that I have lived here my closest friends both male and female have been Indigenous, and I came from a background in SA and Fiji, where Indigenous people were a part of our household on a daily basis.
    Yet the potential for the manipulation of the whole country is very real via the court system.
    The question of who is Indigenous and who is not is a complete can of worms because of the money involved and unfortunately our entire system is based on compensation, and we continually judge long past events on today’s standards. That will always be so.
    I think the national anthem should be the ABC song: “We are one, but we are many” and act accordingly.

  4. The great fear I have of the VtoP is that it will involve a number of well-heeled, comfortable people living in leafy suburbs of Sydney or Melbourne who engage in habitual and invariable talkfests at great expense to the taxpaying public without any outcomes where they are needed – in regional and remote Australia.
    ATSIC’s Regional Council setup provided the best opportunity for a voice, through regional planning and that was considered a failure by the then government.
    Enshrining a VtoP in the Constitution is likely to lead to unneeded division between black and non-black Australians, massive additional wasted funds, and no worthwhile outcome where needed.
    Do you trust a government – any government – to meddle with our Constitution in relation to such an important and potentially divisive issue? I don’t.

  5. Please note that skin colour is not a measure of Aboriginality.
    Simple genetics shows that offspring from two mixed race parents (half caste in old terminology) can vary in skin colour from almost white to almost black.
    It would be ludicrous to discriminate between siblings on that basis. Or any other Aborigines.

  6. The Voice is promoted by the Commonwealth to enable its historical promotion of apartheid using racial tags.
    The Commonwealth, IF its referendum is successful, will enable claims to further divide Australians (racial tags for various ancestries) requiring usage of the Commonwealth’s selected racial tags.
    This would be a gross assault upon all our legal rights as Australians.


  7. If the Voice gets up in its entirety per the Uluru Statement, and the Garma Festival statement, the Makarrata Commission will be hijacked by unelected UN officials under the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Simply because we were colonised.
    Simply, also the High Court could make a ruling to do this if Parliament refused to delegate Truth and Treaty to the UN. Currently proposed, the Voice can make representation to the Executive.
    We were a colonised country, but we are a migrant country now. Migrants also have intergenerational trauma from theatres of conflict.
    In terms of Treaty, this will effectively define non Indigenous Australians including migrants as “settlers”.
    The Commonwealth, as defined by John Quick and Robert Garran becomes an unstoppable regression to “decolonisation”. The road to co-sovereignty a cause celebre of the UN elites. Contentious issues such as Indigenous pension entitlements or the proposed nuclear waste dump in Kimba SA will be decided by the UN Human Rights Council.
    It is also problematic that Truth and Treaty is non justiciable.
    If the Voice is proposed to be a consultative body, the referendum should be about merging SA with the NT to create a new State “Centralia”. A new parliament house in Alice Springs. If the Voice is to be in the Constitution, the wording should be as Father Frank Brennan’s proposal.
    The Voice is then as per the SA Legislation. Truth and Treaty is not at the behest of the UN. It is good to have international stature, but this is our country.
    We are not Invaders. We need positive outcomes, not needless litigation of perceived inadequate decisions by the Executive.
    Stefan Lewandowski,
    Wirrulla, SA

  8. The commitment of the United Nations to human rights stems from the organisation’s founding charter that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.
    All signatory States, including Australia, supported the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, available in more than 360 languages. For a quick search try udhr_booklet_en_web.pdf
    Article 1
    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
    Article 2
    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
    Download and read the full document.
    The proposed referenda divides Australians into racial groups with different rights and responsibilities. This denies Australians their equality as set out in the UDHR Article 2.



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