Indigenous counter-protesters in Brisbane made a powerful statement during a rally advocating for the Voice to Parliament by unfurling a massive Aboriginal flag with the words “Vote No” prominently displayed. The flag was stretched out over Victoria Bridge, capturing the attention of onlookers and participants alike.
Wayne Wharton, an Aboriginal activist from the Kooma community in Cunnamulla, western Queensland, played a significant role in creating the banner. Wharton is an advocate for prioritizing treaties over constitutional changes and firmly believes that non-Indigenous Australians should not have disproportionate influence over First Nations affairs.
Despite the sizeable number of counter-protesters and the message they sought to convey, the ‘No’ campaign received limited attention in mainstream media, in stark contrast to the extensive coverage given to the ‘Yes’ campaign. This disparity in media coverage raises questions about the balance and fairness in reporting, particularly regarding Indigenous issues.
Over the weekend, supporters of the ‘Yes’ campaign organized rallies in multiple cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Canberra. These events garnered substantial media attention. However, some individuals noted that the crowd sizes at these rallies were comparatively smaller than those seen at anti-lockdown protests aimed at the government’s stringent COVID-19 measures.
A tweet by user Rukshan Fernando highlighted the discrepancy, stating, “One rally was characterized as a small group of fringe extremists that doesn’t represent the views of the community because only a few hundred thousand came out to stop government overreach. The other rally supporting government-backed racial division in the Constitution is…”
In addition to the contrasting media coverage, the Australian Electoral Commission has announced record-breaking voter enrolment numbers ahead of the upcoming vote. Of particular significance is the fact that over 90% of First Nations individuals have enrolled to vote for the first time in Australian history. This surge in voter registration signifies a growing interest and engagement from Indigenous communities in the political process.
The Voice to Parliament proposal aims to establish a representative body that would give Indigenous Australians a say in laws and policies that affect them. It seeks to address the historical marginalization and exclusion of Indigenous voices from important decision-making processes.
The upcoming vote on the Voice to Parliament will have significant implications for the future of Indigenous rights and representation in Australia. Both supporters and opponents of the proposal are actively voicing their opinions and engaging in public demonstrations to ensure their voices are heard.
As the debate continues, it is crucial for media outlets to provide fair and balanced coverage of both sides of the argument. Indigenous issues and voices should be given equal importance and consideration in order to foster a truly inclusive and representative democracy.