Sometimes the blatant hypocrisy of our political leaders is breathtaking. For example, here I cite an extract from Catie McLeod’s story in Good Friday’s Guardian which references Mr. Dutton, the leader of the Opposition’s Easter message.
“The Opposition Leader wished Australians a happy Easter on behalf of the federal Coalition on the eve of the long weekend and after resounding losses in the NSW state election and Aston by-election.
“For Christians everywhere, this is a time to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus Christ – and the profound impact his teachings continue to have on our lives,” Mr. Dutton said in a statement.
“Of course, Easter is also a time for family, for chocolate eggs and for visits from the Easter bunny.
“As we enjoy these great traditions together, let us remember the true meaning of Easter and the message of hope and renewal that it brings.”
He said the messages of Easter – “atonement, forgiveness, love, and hope” – held meaning for everyone.
“I wish you a very happy and safe Easter holiday, filled with love from your family and those closest to you, as we come together to celebrate the values that make our nation great,” he said.”
On Wednesday this same person announced, after a hastily called party room meeting, that the party he leads will oppose the Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution recognizing the First Peoples of this country. In explaining that this was not a No but a Yes, he and his deputy proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot by ignoring the failure of their party to progress their vision when in power for 11 years.
It also denies that the Statement from the Heart was produced following a request by their own party. It also denies that this Statement and the ask for a Voice was a 12-month consultative process with grassroots Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The majority of the 250 signatures on the original statement come from outside Canberra, most a long, long way outside Canberra.
Today he says that Easter is about “atonement, forgiveness, love and hope”, the essence of the Christian message. The synchronicity of his words and the Statement from the Heart are extraordinary because that is exactly what the voice is about. These four words align with the four keywords of the restorative justice process from the heart of our people – Voice, Treaty, Truth, and Makarrata.
It seems to me that Mr. Dutton’s comment that Easter celebrates “the values that make our Nation great” needs to be rephrased to say, “make our White Nation great”. Excluding us from the Constitution was a deliberate decision by all when the Constitution was written (a read of our political leaders’ writings at the time leaves no doubt about the fact Australia was to be a White supremacist project) so the values he speaks of are not our values. We now have a chance to right that wrong and we need all to join us in this process for our own personal, spiritual, emotional, and national benefit,
Easter was the crux of God’s absurd compassion for his people who were in captivity and dispossessed of their land and their identity. They carried in their bodies the pain of being, once again, homeless, and destituted by a colonial power. Jesus was one of them as a Jewish man and had nothing but his body to protest and redeem the situation.
The Statement from the Heart and the gentle invitation in its last paragraph reminds us that this too is an act of absurd compassion in the image of God and Christ. The statement carries no demands, no threats, no accusations, simply a generous invitation from those who suffered and are suffering to those who benefit from their suffering. The Voice asks for nothing more than that Australia listens to the people who have been here from the Dreaming and deserve the right to speak on matters that impact them.
In doing so we will begin the journey of justice and healing encapsulated in the four words of “atonement, forgiveness, love, and hope” Mr. Dutton speaks of but appears, unable to say Yes to and bring about, as he says, “hope and renewal”.