Why I reckon we should VOTE YES

Posted on 15 September 2023

Since I’m clearly self-empowered to speak an opinion publicly because I’m a middle class, middle aged, white, cis-gendered straight guy (with most of the predictable attributes and perspectives that brings) in one of the leftest leaning seats in the country, in one of the (apparently) most progressive states, firmly behind the “Quinoa Curtain” and definitely south of the “hipster proof fence”; I thought I'd add some more noise to the not-so-background din. Especially since you clearly don’t get enough people like me talking about things they’re not qualified to speak about in your daily life. However I feel that I am qualified to speak about the valuing, protection and celebration of Australian creative cultural output since I’ve done that pretty extensively over the past 10 years through the AJRB. I know that I’m largely preaching to the choir here and that I’m in my own echo chamber of like-minded progressive people, but this is important and we need to reach out to those who are perhaps on the fence, or maybe need a different perspective on how things are, and why this vote is important.


So, with that disclaimer in mind, here’s why I think that you should VOTE YES.

The act of listening and responding is central to what we do in the pursuit of music making. It is so deeply within our identity, our DNA and our belief systems that many of us approach the rest of our lives with this frame of being.

Listening is the most humane thing you can do. When you listen, you demonstrate empathy and respect. By listening, you have the opportunity to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. By listening to someone, you are enabling them to speak. You are valuing what they have to say. By listening, you are demonstrating that you are capable of understanding perspectives, ideas and thoughts that are not necessarily your own. That a difference in experience and/or perspective will not change your own reality, but may actually enrich your understanding of the world in which we live. In the time that you are listening, you are not actively involved in articulating your ego, prejudice and other perspectives. In listening, you are valuing other people’s voices, without necessarily challenging your own. 

In music, the best players have an innate ability to listen. When you are contributing musically, if those around you are listening to you, that feels good. It immediately creates a shared space and a common respect. We might even move to a position of feeling empowered if we feel like we are being listened to. That’s a powerful thing to do, and it’s a humbling thing to be part of.

Yes, responding and acting is a whole other thing. Additionally, changing the things that have been broken for so long is a whole other thing. But, listening comes first. With listening comes understanding. 

Listening = Respect. 

Listening = Empathy.

It’s an important first step along the path that a lot of other things must happen. Most importantly, I think our cultural health and Australian identity for the next generation depends on us voting YES. When will we acknowledge our past so that we can meaningfully and legitimately own our future? When will we feel that we can stand on our own two feet as a country? Maybe to muster the pride needed to stand tall, we need to honestly and bravely acknowledge our past, honestly and openly. How can we be proud and collectively stand tall when we are fearful of the unknown, easily confused about the facts, and potentially disenfranchised with the state of political discourse? How could we establish a Treaty from this position? Voting YES is the first step along a longer path that we must bravely walk down. It’s not the last step. Listening and Responding is at the heart of what we need to do from here.

I can only hope that in my lifetime we will be able to stand on our own two feet in Australia. That we will listen to, respect, acknowledge and value our culture, our creatives, and our own stories. 

I’m not sure what the disadvantages are in listening and learning more from the oldest continuous civilisation on earth, our First Nations People. We clearly have a lot to learn about how to survive and look after country, now more so than ever with the challenges we all collectively face. What can the stories and the wisdom that has survived for tens of thousands of years do to benefit us? It would make sense that we should listen and learn so we can face the challenges together. What would we benefit from listening to those voices?

My understanding as to what is being proposed is that it is a mechanism to enable LISTENING to happen. Forget about the scare mongering, forget about the dirty politics. For me, Listening = Respect. Do we respect other people enough to listen to them? Of course, there is nothing mandated or that we are legally obliged to act upon, even though we should as it is our collective moral, and ethical responsibility as Australians. It is simply a mechanism to listen to what is being said. Will we hear it?


Dr. Tim Nikolsky, September 2023