by DANIEL Y TENG –INDIGENOUS Minister Linda Burney has accused campaigners against changing Australia’s Constitution of engaging in “Trump politics” and distributing misinformation.
Burney directed the withering comments against “No” campaigners who oppose Labor’s Indigenous Voice to Parliament proposal.
The proposal will change the preamble of the Australian Constitution to include recognition of Indigenous people and will also embed a near-permanent advisory body into the Parliament that will have the power to make “representations” on matters deemed relevant to Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.
“I fear that the No campaign is importing American-style Trump politics to Australia,” Ms Burney said.
“At the heart is a post-truth approach to politics,” she told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia’s State of the Nation conference on June 14.
“Its aim is to polarise people, and its weapon of choice is misinformation,” she said.
“The No campaign outfit, Fair Australia, regularly posts things on social media that are clearly false and taken out of context. For instance, it uses an image and quotes from Bob Hawke, as if to suggest the former prime minister did not support the recognition of Indigenous Australians.”
Her comments follow those of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who said to avoid an incident like the January 6 US Capitol riots, Australians needed to support constitutional change.
“We can condemn those events – but we must also heed the warning they carry,” he told the Chifley Research Centre at the National Press Clun on Februar 5.
“Democracy can never be taken for granted. It needs to be nourished, protected, cared for, treated with respect,” he said.
The Prime Minister has also accused opponents of the Voice of “misinformation on social media”.
In recent months, multiple polls have revealed declining support for The Voice across the nation, which is scheduled to go to a referendum vote later this year.
A majority of voters nationwide and a majority of States (four out of six) must vote in favour of a change before the Constitution can be altered.
While Yes campaigners argue the Voice is a necessary part of helping Indigenous communities, the No campaign has pointed to multiple problems with the proposal.
Indigenous leader Warren Mundine says multiple Indigenous “advisory bodies” have been set up before and were later dismantled when they were found to have either served their purpose or were ineffective.
“We have tried Indigenous representative bodies, Indigenous advisory bodies, and Indigenous consulting bodies multiple times over the decades,” he said.
“None have lifted Indigenous people out of poverty. None have ‘Closed the Gap’,” he wrote in The Epoch Times.
While fellow No campaigner Gary Johns, a former Labor minister, said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were already assimilating into wider society and that the Voice would serve as an extra layer of bureaucracy that will only benefit Indigenous lobby groups.
Meanwhile, Burney and Albanese’s comments come as some Australian migrants complain that the rhetoric towards opponents of the Voice is becoming vitriolic.
“The government is not explaining anything about the Voice, just saying, ‘Oh, we’ll explain later; you’ll have to just vote yes’,” said Tina Palushi, who lived under a communist regime in Albania
“If you don’t vote yes, you’re marked as a racist or not caring – which is completely wrong.”
“So that’s the same thing the Communist Party of Albania did, ‘I’m telling you to do this, you just have to say yes and vote for it’.”
Her views were shared by former High Court Justice Ian Callinan.
“There’s a nasty feel about this,” he told attendees of a Samuel Griffith Society symposium on May 17.
“But in addition to the nastiness, there’s a kind of presumptuousness, condescension – a paternalism.”
“All of you and I have been told by the Yes side that we must vote yes,” he added.PC