Prominent Voice campaigner for the Yes vote, Marcia Langton, has clarified that her comments criticizing the No case were directed at the arguments made in the campaign, not the voters themselves.
Speaking at a forum in Bunbury, Western Australia, on September 10, Ms. Langton stated that every argument put forward by the No campaign was “substantially false.” She further explained that when examining these arguments, they ultimately boiled down to either racism or sheer stupidity.
These statements were made in response to questions about whether Aboriginal Australians would receive compensation if the referendum for Indigenous recognition succeeded.
Ms. Langton also emphasized that the referendum question has been verified by former judges as safe, practical, and robust.
In response to Ms. Langton’s comments, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Sussan Ley asked Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney if she would denounce Ms. Langton for accusing No voters of being racist and stupid.
In her reply, Ms. Burney called for respectful and considerate behavior from all involved in the referendum and stated that racism has no place in Australia.
The issue was also raised in Parliament by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who criticized Ms. Burney and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for not condemning Ms. Langton’s comments.
Ms. Ley described Ms. Langton’s labeling of No advocates as racist or stupid as a “deplorables moment” and a reflection of the Yes campaign’s mindset.
Mr. Albanese referred to media reports highlighting instructions given to No campaign volunteers not to identify themselves as No campaigners upfront. He stated that this revealed the “dishonest and divisive” strategy of the No campaign.
Following the media coverage and parliamentary discussions, Ms. Langton denied calling No voters racist and stupid. She asserted that the headlines portraying her as racist were a deliberate tactic, and she emphasized that she is not racist but believes that the No campaign is using racist tactics.
Ms. Langton stated that she is seeking legal advice on the matter and asked for the removal of Mr. Dutton’s social media post containing the original headlines.
On October 14, Australians will vote in the referendum to decide on the inclusion of Indigenous recognition in the Constitution and the establishment of a permanent advisory body for Indigenous issues.