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Quarterly Essay Issue 90 2023 - Voice of Reason on Recognition and Renewal by Megan Davis


QE90 - June 2023


Voice of Reason

On Recognition and Renewal: Quarterly Essay 90

Why a First Nations Voice to Parliament is a “constitutional moment” that offers a new vision of Australia.

At Uluru, an invitation was issued to the Australian people. With the upcoming referendum, the nation will decide whether to accept that invitation. In this compelling, fresh and imaginative essay, Megan Davis draws out the significance and the promise of this “constitutional moment” – what it could mean for recognition and justice.

Davis presents the Voice to Parliament as an Australian solution to an Australian problem. For Indigenous people, it is a practical response to “the torment of powerlessness.” She highlights the failure of past policies, in areas from child protection to closing the gap, and the urgent need for change. She also brings out the creative and imaginative dimensions of the Voice. Fundamental to her account is the importance of truly listening. In explaining why the Voice is needed from the ground up, she evokes a new vision of Country and community.

“When people say this is about changing Australian identity, it's not. It's about location; we are located here together, we are born here, we arrive here, we die here and we must coexist in a peaceful way. The fundamental message that many elders planted in the Uluru Statement is that . . . the country needs peace, and the country cannot be at peace until we meet; the Uluru Statement is the beginning of that.” Voice of Reason, Megan Davis

Correspondence discussing Quarterly Essay 90, Voice of Reason: