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Someone's daughter, someone's son

  • 15 September 2023
Last week the ‘Yes’ campaign unleashed its latest advertising campaign, getting permission to use the classic John Farnham song ‘You’re the Voice’ in the referendum campaign, and reportedly getting the endorsement of ‘The Voice’ himself. 

I’ve often thought of that song as the musical equivalent of a blank greeting card – you can attach whatever message or issue you want to its lyrics. But I think its use in the campaign is inspired, not only because it means the song is now linked to this important moment in Australian history, but because it speaks to exactly the people the campaign needs to target.

As has been pointed out by others, a successful referendum campaign needs to build bridges, and for all the good feelings a new song by Paul Kelly might generate, it’s people like Farnham that have the best chance of connecting with those on the fence.

When I think about conservative voters, I think of people like my Dad who passed away over 20 years ago. He was a truck driver who’d spend his days listening to Neil Mitchell’s talkback on 3AW, and would then watch A Current Affair on TV when he got home. His world was one in which dole bludgers ripped off hard-working taxpayers, unions went around making people’s lives more difficult, and ‘pink-haired’ lefties weren’t to be trusted. When I told him I’d voted Labor in my first election, I came home to find a ‘Communist’ sign plastered on my bedroom door (more due to his sense of humour than anything sinister). 

I’d like to think maybe he’d have changed over the last 20 years, but cancer took that opportunity away. I do know that there are many people like him in Australia, and they aren’t the sort of people I tend to socialise with much anymore. 

While many progressives might write them off with words like ‘bigot’ or ‘racist’, there’s a deep well of goodness that these labels ignore. My Dad was someone who cared actively about people in his circle. He worked hard at his job – often doing overnights and weekends – because he cared about the places where he worked. He would often spend his downtime over at someone else’s house helping them, making himself available to anyone who needed him. As much as he mistrusted politicians and activists who claimed they wanted to make the world a better place, he dedicated himself to ensuring his