A senior member of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament Working Group has slammed the Liberal Party’s decision to oppose a referendum on the Voice as “deceitful” and accused Opposition Leader Peter Dutton of “lying”.
- Indigenous elder and academic Marcia Langton says Peter Dutton is trying to sow “confusion and doubt” over a Voice to Parliament
- She says Mr Dutton’s claim the Voice would consist of city-based academics was untrue and “vicious” after Yunupingu’s death
- Mr Dutton says the opposition will support a No vote in the referendum and he will actively campaign against the Voice
Speaking to ABC 7.30, Professor Marcia Langton, co-chair of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament design group, said Mr Dutton’s announcement will fuel confusion in the community.
“I think his opposition to the Voice relies absolutely on deceit and misrepresentations. And, and I have to say, a great deal of ignorance,” she said.
“He wants to sow confusion and doubt, so that the undecided people and the people who are wavering, because they’re starting to think ‘Yeah, I haven’t seen any detail’ … they think that he’s able to, you know, swing them to a No vote to secure what he believes is his constituency.”
On Wednesday, Mr Dutton announced the opposition would support a No vote on the referendum and that he would actively campaign against it.
Mr Dutton described the proposed body as the prime minister’s “Canberra Voice” that won’t represent the views of communities on the ground.
Professor Langton said she “deeply resented” his reference to city-based academics.
She said the group of 25 Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples convened by the prime minister to work on the language of the referendum and principles of the Voice are a diverse group “from all over the country”, including the recently deceased land rights campaigner, known as Yunupingu, who came from East Arnhem Land.
“What a vicious thing to say after one of them has just passed away,” she said.
One of the most contentious points in the lead-up to the announcement of the referendum wording was the question of what advice the Solicitor-General had provided.
Mr Dutton has claimed that the Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue said the Voice should not be able to make representations to executive government, as well as parliament.
Professor Langton rejected the claim as “absolutely not correct”.
“I’m really astonished that … a member of the Australian parliament would be so deceitful and propagate what is essentially a lie,” she told 7.30.
Asked why in her opinion the opposition leader had repeated the claim, Professor Langton said: “I think he thinks he can get away with lying and he’ll be thinking all these nice Australians will believe him and they won’t believe us.”
7.30 sought interviews on Wednesday and Thursday with Mr Dutton and other members of the shadow cabinet. All declined.
Watch 7.30, Mondays to Thursdays 7.30pm on ABC iview and ABC TV