Which voices will they listen to?

If you follow the mainstream media the campaign for the Voice is being overwhelmed by controversy, lack of detail and conflict.

Even progressive parts of the media – for instance crikey – feature pieces like a recent one by Dennis Aitkin which said: “There’s no doubt most Australians want First Nations peoples to have constitutional recognition, but are the numbers there to guarantee that?

“The longer the political year grinds on at its relentless, metronomic pace, the more the grand mistake of having a referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament stands out.

“Today the first two months of 2023 come to an end and the case for a form of constitutional recognition of Indigenous peoples is at the edge of failure.

“Protests that there is plenty of time and talk remaining, that the wording of any change has yet to be settled, and that the naysayers are simply looking for pathways to failure all may have merit.

“However, they look more and more like excuses for the ever-growing sense of defeat for what should be a simple, common sense change.”

Big call Dennis. The problem is that if you get your news from what the young call msm and your journalistic colleagues it’s easy to come to that conclusion. It’s a bit like restricting your research, as often happened in journalism decades ago, to taking a sample of your colleagues’ opinion in the pub before you went back to the office to file your copy on the outlook for the next election.

And how can you segue from most people supporting the Voice to questioning whether the numbers are there? To give him some slack he is taking into account the need for a majority of States as well as a majority of votes but ‘most’ does suggest a majority.

But even the Liberals are shifting a tad. Having beaten the drum on the old ‘give us more detail’ tactic they have moved on to saying they would like to support the Voice but need more information. This is interpreted as an indication of the Voice campaigns problems rather than the admission of someone who can see what’s coming and is working out how to facilitate a subtle sideways shift.

Peter Dutton and his Shadow Attorney General, Julian Leeser are even crying crocodile tears that the Voice is not “on track for success” – implying that they really want it to succeed but it’s the awful Albanese Government which is stopping that.

The usual suspects – Tony Abbott et al – are setting up committees to campaign – campaigns which will mainly involve talking to the Murdoch media and giving speeches to people who already agree with them and provide a cross-section of reactionary octogenarian opinion and some Institute of Public Affairs young fogies.

When things get really desperate they’ll roll out John Howard (just as Liberal Governments facing defeat do) overlooking that many young voters are unsure who he is.

Meanwhile the allegedly failing Voice campaign is supported by every State and Territory Government; The Voice organisers have launched a campaign which will be taken to kitchen tables and living rooms around the country; the campaign is rolling in money as more and more huge donations roll in, for instance from the Paul Ramsay Foundation which has just given $5 million; the Teals are competing to get the highest vote in their electorates; every major sporting body has come out in support; company directors and big companies are pledging support; and the big hitters of research, political strategy and tactics – Labor and Liberal – are lined up against them.

Who will the public listen to on the issue? Most of them don’t use msm and no one other than ideologues follow Murdoch – unless they have to as part of their job.

But will they listen to their children? Their neighbours? Their sporting heroes? Their State and local governments? The nicely dressed young person, the sensible middle-aged woman or a friendly older person at the door? The social media whiz kids and advertising people churning out great images and calls for action?

Or will they listen to Tony Abbott?

Bookmakers don’t seem to be setting odds on the Voice success being more concerned at present about who might win the Voice TV talent show. As the grandson of an SP bookmaker, however, one prediction is safe – the odds on No will be sufficiently attractive to suck in some punters but the odds spread will be managed on the expectation of a Yes vote.