A renowned international human rights lawyer says Australia won’t be able to criticise China‘s re-education camps for Muslims if the No vote triumphs at the upcoming Voice referendum.
Geoffrey Robertson KC, an Australian-born barrister based in London, has likened Australia’s treatment of Aboriginal people to the detention of Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province.
With opinion polls showing the Yes vote struggling, Mr Robertson has also suggested a No vote on October 14 would destroy Australia’s international reputation and make it harder for former Australian politicians to get elite roles leading global bodies.
In an opinion piece for The Sydney Morning Herald Mr Robertson, who has appeared on panels with fellow high-profile human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, suggested Australia would lose the authority to speak out on human rights issues if the No vote prevailed.
‘They should not underestimate the toxicity that attaches to people connected, even inadvertently, to racism,’ he said.
Geoffrey Robertson KC, an Australian-born barrister (pictured right with Amal Clooney) based in London , has likened Australia’s treatment of Aboriginal people to the detention of Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province
‘This will tarnish Australians if this referendum, now publicised throughout the world, does not pass.
‘It will open Australia up to charges of hypocrisy when its government complains of China’s discrimination against Uighurs, and it will undermine the important efforts we are making to be a force for good in the Pacific.’
Mr Robertson KC’s essay angered several readers, with one critic noting China’s attempt to eliminate the religion and culture of Uighurs was not comparable to the disadvantage Indigenous people suffered in Australia.
‘China’s genocide doesn’t equate to Australian racism.’
A Yes voter was also outraged. ‘Yes voter but it’s completely unfair to compare the China situation with ours. Sorry, this will just embolden No voters.’
One critic noted China actively oppressed the Uighur minority, while Australia was trying to improve the living standards of Aboriginal people.
‘China’s discrimination (more detention and torture than just discrimination) against Uighurs in the present day is not at all the same as the current experiences of Indigenous Australians,’ this reader said.
‘You can’t conflate past actions, that are acknowledged, with something that is happening right now and being denied by the perpetrators.’
Another reader questioned why concerns about Australia’s international reputation should decide how people voted next month.
‘What an odd thing to base a vote on that can change the overarching legal document that governs a nation. World perceptions of racism,’ one man said.
But one reader agreed a No vote would make Australia look racist, likening it to the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President and the Brexit vote in the UK, both in 2016.
‘Absolutely. People who actually care about our reputation overseas already know Australians are considered racist and not very bright,’ the reader said.
‘By voting no we will just reinforce that idea. We align with the Trump voters and the Brexiteers.’
Mr Robertson, who was previously married to author Kathy Lette after dating media personality Nigella Lawson, also suggested a successful No vote would make it harder for Australians to get roles leading international bodies.
The barrister, who hosted the Hypotheticals TV show in Australia during the 1980s, referenced former Liberal finance minister Mathias Cormann becoming secretary-general of the OECD in 2021.
‘Ironically, Australia will have to lower its own voice to a considerable degree within the international community, and it will damage the chances of Australian candidates for international positions if they come from a country perceived as unfair to its Indigenous people,’ Mr Robertson said.
He likened Australia’s treatment of Aboriginal people to the detention of Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province (pictured is a camp in Lop County)
The barrister, who hosted the Hypotheticals TV show in Australia during the 1980s, referenced former Liberal finance minister Mathias Cormann (pictured) becoming secretary-general of the OECD in 2021
‘I doubt whether Mathias Cormann would have won appointment to the OECD had his candidacy come in the wake of a referendum defeat for the Voice.’
A Resolve Strategic poll published this month in Nine newspapers showed the No vote leading 57 per cent to 43 per cent, with support for the Voice now behind in NSW and Victoria.
Only Tasmania is producing a majority for the Yes case.
If those results were replicated at the referendum, the Voice would fail with a majority of votes required nationally along with a majority of votes in four out of six states.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk