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Matt O’Sullivan: Voice to Parliament could end up being flop of Fyre Festival proportions

Matt O’Sullivan | The West Australian

Remember the buzz surrounding Fyre Festival, touted as the ultimate luxury music event promising an unrivalled experience on a tropical paradise?

With world famous music acts, A-list models, social media influencers, and lavish amenities promised, excitement reached a fever pitch with 95 per cent of tickets selling out in the first 24 hours.

Yet, as festival-goers arrived on the island, their dreams quickly turned into a nightmare. The promised paradise was actually a dystopia of disaster relief tents, scant provisions, and chaotic, disorganised mess.

Fyre Festival became synonymous with broken promises, highlighting the consequences of unchecked hype and poor planning.

There are growing concerns that the Voice to Parliament referendum may follow a similar path, purporting to be something it’s not.

Anthony Albanese has said this is a modest proposal, but this is nothing of the sort.

Australians are waking up. They’re discovering the referendum is about much more than recognition.

The scope of the Voice to Parliament would be unlimited, nothing would be beyond the remit of this bureaucratic body.

The delays this would pose to parliamentary decision making are unknown and alarming.

And voters’ expectation to know how the Voice will work before the referendum continues to go unanswered by Labor.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney’s National Press Club address was an attempt to salvage the failing Yes campaign.

However, her feeble effort to address key questions about how the Voice would work was nothing short of garble. Resorting to plagiarising her own job description as a member of Parliament is not the kind of detail Australians deserve.

So, scepticism continues to grow across the country.

This shift in sentiment and public opinion has become increasingly evident. The level of support for the Yes vote has declined, while opposition to the referendum is continuing to gain traction.

It’s becoming clear there is a real possibility the Voice to Parliament will be rejected by a majority of Australians.

Surely this should call for a reassessment by the Albanese Government.

Yet here we are, supposedly months out from a referendum on a national Voice with no detail on how it will operate and no mention of local and regional voices whatsoever.

The risks and unknowns are proving too great.

Meanwhile the Labor Government is doing nothing to quell these concerns.

The Voice is already dividing our country, and if it does fail, will set back our national targets on closing the gap for decades.

And still Labor are mindlessly trudging along the Yes campaign trail.

There is a better way.

Even the Calma-Langton report recommended establishing local and regional voices to inform a national Voice. Their concern that a top-down approach would prevent local and regional bodies from having a seat at the table when decisions affecting their communities are made is well documented in the final report.

And we know top-down approaches don’t work. It’s grassroots models that always have the best chance of providing enduring change in these communities that is so desperately needed.

But instead of listening to the local elders and leaders, the Labor Government has listened to a select and elect group of Indigenous people who do not and can not speak for the patchwork of local and regional communities across Australia.

By going ahead with a referendum that most Australians are beginning to reject, the Albanese Government runs the risk of leaving Indigenous communities feeling betrayed and let down along with the rest of country.

Not that different to those Fyre Festival attendees left stranded and disillusioned.