In October, Quadrant Magazine published a short, satirical story of mine about Josie, an elderly woman who decided to sell bumper stickers. She wanted to protest at the outrageous push to change our Constitution to give special, additional rights to about 3% of the population based on their race. The stickers were incredibly popular, Josie became famous and the referendum failed.

The story was total fantasy and rather amusing. It touched a nerve in readers and I was repeatedly asked where they could buy Josie’s bumper stickers ‘to save Australia’. My husband and I designed a set of seven stickers and the demand is now so great that we struggle to keep up with the supply. It is a case of fiction becoming fact.

To date, we have distributed over 1,600 stickers from one side of Australia to the other. We do this on a zero nett profit basis. Our intention is to spread the word, to make Australians think about what is coming so that they can make up their minds from a position of knowledge, not ignorance.

The feedback from sticker buyers has made one fact very clear. Many Australians feel they have no voice, few of our politicians and business leaders (or indeed anyone) speak for them, and nobody listens to them. They have worked hard and paid their dues and now their country is being given away. They are angry, fed-up, and saddened at what their once-great and beloved country has become. Some who went to war for Australia now wonder why they bothered.

Their national flag, under which so many fought and died, is being flown with two other flags, (neither of which are national flags), which they find offensive and insulting. Displaying a meaningful bumper sticker gives many the only opportunity they have of expressing their feelings. I suggest that our politicians and business people ignore this disgruntled group at their peril, for their pent-up rage simmers.

The recent budget, (in which over $216m was promised to support the Yes vote, and not a brass razoo to the No vote) caused a rush of sticker orders from angry and disbelieving Australians. Likewise, the listing of the campaign group Australians for Indigenous Constitutional Recognition as a tax-deductible gift recipient, was seen as blatantly unfair.

There is now a push to rein in debate for the No side on the grounds that it will result in offence or even harm to Aboriginals. We heard similar nonsense during the same-sex marriage ‘debate’, when we were told that negative discussion would traumatise LGBTQI people and possibly result in suicides.

Recently, there has been talk of Aboriginal souls ‘being broken’ if the voice/Constitutional change referendum fails, a fantasy roundly ridiculed by Senator Jacinta Price. Our PM has said it was just ‘simple courtesy, it is common decency’ to vote Yes. Nice people will vote Yes and they will be on the right side of history. So get with the programme, be a good little Aussie and vote Yes for Aboriginal happiness and fulfillment. This is sanctimonious poppycock.

Dr. Nina Lansbury is using her position as Senior Lecturer in Planetary Health, School of Public Health, at the University of Queensland, to advise of the ‘significant public health benefits to the country’ of a Yes vote. Vote Yes for First Nations (sic) to have good health and well-being. Vote No and you will be condemning Aboriginals to racism and other prejudices, lack of respect and denial of human rights. She is saying: If you vote No, Aboriginal health is at risk. If you vote Yes, the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people will improve.

Notwithstanding the highly dubious nature of her statements, Dr. Lansbury is threatening Australian voters just as we were threatened during the same-sex marriage ‘debate’. She is even giving away t-shirts to her supporters with detailed instructions as to where and how often they should wear them just in case they are unable to decide this on their own. The beneficiaries of her largesse are requested to wear their t-shirts at least twice a month in the lead up to the referendum, in public places, walking the dog, when mixing in crowds, and so on. Perhaps the commonsense-o-metre within the hallowed grounds of our universities is running at an all-time low. 

Personally, I find Dr. Lansbury’s remarks outrageous and misleading. She is in a position of some authority. Using UQ for a partisan political campaign is surely inappropriate, and an abuse of this authority. We might well ask, with justified trepidation, how many other educators are busily indoctrinating and bribing their students and colleagues in this way.

Becoming quite unexpectedly a purveyor of political bumper stickers has made me aware of a worrying response. There is a concern, held by many, that if they advertise their beliefs by displaying a sticker, their home may be targeted, their car may be keyed, or they may be in danger of physical or verbal abuse. We all have to make our own choices about this. How big is the risk to our house, or car? How big is the risk to our country if we do nothing? You may rationalise your desire for anonymity by telling yourself that one little sticker won’t make a difference anyway. I remind readers of the 1,600 stickers that have been distributed already.

Together we can make a difference. Australians were known for their gutsy bravery in the past. Let us not now be cowed into submission by the possibility of trouble before the referendum has even been announced. Illustratively, my two cars, my letterbox, my front door, and the power pole in front of my home have stickers. There has been no backlash. If any readers need further encouragement to join this discussion, study the nauseatingly unctuous words of our PM, in his address to the 2022 Garma Festival.

We No voters are facing a well-financed, well-supported and determined army that has invested years of its time and thousands of (our) tax-payer dollars into winning this referendum. Do not treat them lightly, for they mean business. Gird your loins and prepare for battle, or at the very least buy and display a bumper sticker!

 We will continue to distribute bumper stickers to publicise the No side of the debate as long as there is a need. Please continue to support us. I can be contacted at jbhackett@bigpond.com for details about sticker purchase.

My original Josie story can be found at https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2022/10/saving-australia-one-bumper-sticker-at-a-time/.

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Joanna Hackett grew up in country Australia and taught for twenty-one years before circumnavigating the world for five years with her husband, in a yacht. She is a published author who still travels widely. She is particularly concerned about the proposal for a racial mandate in our Constitution