‘Complicit in this lie’: Labor demands Dutton denounce No tactics

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Revelations about the tactics being used by No campaigners against the Indigenous Voice have triggered a call for Opposition Leader Peter Dutton to condemn the campaign’s false claims about compensation.

This masthead revealed on Tuesday that a top No campaigner had instructed volunteers to instil fear in voters’ minds, not to identify themselves upfront as No campaigners and to raise reports of financial compensation to Indigenous Australians if the Voice was set up.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare has described tactics used by No campaigners as “rubbish”.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Education Minister Jason Clare called the claim a “lie” and said it was “rubbish” to suggest the Voice would lead to compensation payments, something Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has previously ruled out.

“This is a sign of just how low the No campaign is willing to go,” Clare said at Parliament House on Tuesday morning.

“And I call on Peter Dutton today to condemn this. If he doesn’t, then he’s complicit in this lie.”

Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie said it was wrong to claim the No campaign was lying because the government could not be sure the Voice would not lead to reparation payments.

“I’m a firm believer in reconciliation and recognition. But I am also a very respectful No to changing our Constitution to enshrine a Voice,” she said.

“Minister Clare, standing up here today, claiming he knows what the Voice will and won’t call for, how the Voice will and won’t behave, and insert itself into our political system, is pretty rich.”

Clare said the main falsehood was the claim being spread by No campaigners that the Voice was about compensation, an assertion he compared to Dutton’s warning in 2008 that the parliament’s apology to the stolen generations would lead to compensation payments of up to $10 billion.

Dutton made the warning about the $10 billion cost in January 2008 and apologised in February 2023 for abstaining from the apology in parliament.

“The Voice is an advisory committee, the Voice is about listening, the Voice is about making sure we make better decisions and get better results,” Clare said.

“The same thing happened during the apology – remember when Kevin Rudd made the apology to the stolen generations, Peter Dutton said then that it would cost Australians $10 billion. That was BS and so is this.”

In 2020, leading Voice campaigner and unionist Thomas Mayo suggested a Voice could help to push for compensation for Indigenous people.

Former Liberal treasurer of NSW Matt Kean said revelations about the No campaign showed the anti-Voice outfit “has nothing to offer but fear & anger”.

“They offer no solutions, no pathway forward. They always take the low road, the tricky political road that takes us nowhere,” he posted on social media.

The director of the failed 1999 republic campaign, barrister Greg Barns, said the details about No outfit Advance’s tactics were “sickening and fraudulent” and “exactly what happened in 1999 with the republic referendum”.

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