Where there is much desire to learn,
there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions;
for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.

John Milton

Libertarians believe in free speech.

We do not have to agree with the arguments we hear.

I therefore defend the publication of former Senator Duncan Spender’s debut article It’s Not Our Fight Vote Yes, and I welcome him to the publication.

If you haven’t read his piece, you should before reading this response.

I’ve read and reread his article. I’ve endeavoured to be as open-minded as possible, but he hasn’t convinced me.

I am firmly in the ‘No’ camp and stand by my 14 Reasons To Vote No In The Voice To Parliament Referendum.

In this piece and two others, I’m going to do my best to expose five blind-spots in his arguments.

Today, the big one.


One thing I’ll say in favour of the former Senator’s arguments is that, as a Yes camp advocate, at least he doesn’t slip into the ‘you’re a racist’ slander. Name-calling is never a winning formula when the burden to convince is on your shoulders.

In fact, he concludes with an undeniable ‘indifference’ – his word. We are offered a kind of reluctant accommodation for race-based activism. For precision, I’ll use his words:

“While there remains a constitutional power to make laws about race, and while we only specifically legislate about the Aboriginal race, it is reasonable for there to be an explicit constitutional provision about an Aboriginal body making representations to the Parliament and Government.”

If it has a racial-entry criteria and is being put into our system, it is systemic racism by definition.

I’m a simple fig farmer from the Adelaide Hills. But I’m left feeling empty at this meatless argument. More nourishing would have been ‘systemic racism is wrong’ and ‘race-based admission criteria to a constitutionally-empowered body is dangerous’.

Knowing my limitations, I checked with leading libertarian minds. I’m reminded of the great Thomas Sowell who wrote:

Leading libertarian, Thomas Sowell

Racism does not have a good track record. It’s been tried out for a long time and you’d think by now we’d want to put an end to it instead of putting it under new management.”

Is it just me or does the prospect of systemic racism under the new management of the Voice’s architects fill us with dread? At the risk of being accused again of ad hominem, these people are animated by collectivist values, whether race-based or communist. And I am no collectivist.

Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism.

A properly-centred libertarian cannot simply rationalise the Voice as something to accommodate because we have a Race Power. We must say No, and fight to remove the Race Power at the very next opportunity.

The former Senator either agrees the Voice is a race-based project or not. As I see it, it self-evidently is. If it has a racial-entry criteria and is being put into our system, it is systemic racism by definition. The burden of proof sits with the Yes camp to demonstrate why systemic racism is desirable.

It is philosophically unmoored to say “this is not a libertarian issue.” Murray Rothbard, no less, wrote:

Libertarian philosopher, Murray Rothbard

“Racism is a particularly odious form of collectivism whereby an individual is presumed to possess certain characteristics and moral attributes, or defects, solely because he is a member of a particular race or ethnic group.”

Should we Australian libertarians in 2023 limply concede systemic racism because it is “prudent and gracious”. Or should we listen to Ayn Rand:

“Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social, or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.”

Tomorrow, I’ll cover Duncan’s two leading arguments and their defects as I see them, being:

Until then, I’d love to see your thoughts to this piece in the comments section below.

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  1. I agree with the opening assertions about free speech and willingness to listen to other arguments!
    I particularly like the response to the notion of this “not being our fight”….my own dislike of Duncan’s assertion was from a different angle, but to take it back to core values of collectivism vs individualism is correct and well considered.
    I’m sure this will also play into the “cant get much worse” and “what if those elected” arguments as the response progresses.
    I look forward to reading the next chapters.

  2. The argument seems to be “if we have some racism already in the constitution we might as well add more”. Surely we want to go in the opposite direction.

  3. Well said, Kenelm, your 1st blind spot analysis was based on deep thoughts. In my opinion, there are more good realistic reasons in a big picture scenario by saying NO than to vote for YES, which is more based on emotional persuasion. I compared this to some European settlers in the 1950s, 1960s and in the early 70s, when they arrived Australia with their families, with little Engish they can use, they quietly integrated into the new country environment, their children came across to all sorts of names being called, and experience bullies and racism at their schools. But their parents, with very little English, continued to work hard in their newly settled country, and now, many years on, they own many properties and do successful businesses in Australia. Their second and third generations are now 100% Australians. Enjoying democracy and equality among education opportunities, employment, and wealth that they work hard for like their parents. They continued to carry forward their European culture but enjoy being Australians. Why can’t the same repeat within the First Nation.

    Despite of 30 billions spent each year for the 500,000 indigenous communities by government funding. I look forward to your further analyses for the other blind spots in YES. I will firmly say NO for many justified reasons.
    Here is The Conversation factcheck link…..http://theconversation.com/factcheck-qanda-is-30-billion-spent-every-year-on-500-000-indigenous-people-in-australia-64658

    • I do so enjoy when you contribute, Linda. Thank you. You’re a gem. A very loyal Liberty Itch followers. And thank you for that link. Yes, so much of hard working Australian’s money continually thrown at this. I read with delight you description of migrant waves coming to Australia and working hard to make a good life for their children. I have friends, neighbours and colleagues from families such as these. It’s the great Australian experiment, as is the norm. The good news is that most Indigenous people are part of this success story. A Constitutional body like the old corrupt and now discredited ATSIC is certainly not the way forward. Please keep contributing here, Linda. You are so welcome as are all thinking citizens of goodwill.

  4. Yep, well put! You’re right; the Voice is wholly based on a racist premise (ie as you say, collectivism centred upon race). That 800,000+ Australians (ie estimate of people who identify as First Nations people) whose general commonality (apart from the huge number of commonalities they would share with any other Australians) is a loose trace of shared ancestry, can have their widely varying individual needs effectively represented by 17 representatives on a committee, is a totally racist notion.

    • The individual must come first. As F.A. Hayek once wrote, “We must face the fact that the preservation of individual freedom is incompatible with a full satisfaction of our views of distributive justice.” The Voice is just another attempt at collectivist distributive justice, like a python sneaking through the front door! *smile*

  5. I would like to reject your assertion that this is simply a question of racism. Racism is indeed reprehensible, but I see this issue as other than racism. We live in a liberal settler society and your examples of the migrant experience in the 50s and 60s relate to new settlers assimilating into an existing settler society. The Voice is a question of how to manage the relations between the first nations indigenous peoples of this land, whose cultures and customs are tightly bound with the physical environment which in large part have been taken over by the settlers. I will be voting YES for the sake of indigenous peoples, but not for racism.

    • Robert, Thank you so much for dropping by and sharing your thoughts here. I respect whatever decision you make. You have that right and obligation as a citizen. All I ask is that you hear out all of my points before coming to a final conclusion. If you have a quick reread of my piece, you’ll see that didn’t ‘assert that this is simply a question of racism.’ I agree with you. There are plenty of other reasons, all of which lead me to oppose the Voice. As I said, you’ll see five very good reasons why over the next few days. Please, keep the conversation going. Again, thanks for contributing here.


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