Voice ‘yes’ campaign leader Marcia Langton wants the federal opposition leader to remove an image from one of his social media accounts that claimed she branded ‘no’ voters racist and stupid.
The image of Professor Langton standing next to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese includes the words ‘No Voters Branded ‘Racist, Stupid’ By Prominent Voice Campaigner Marcia Langton’ below the logo of The Australian newspaper.
‘Every time the ‘no’ cases raise their arguments, if you start pulling it apart, you get down to base racism – I’m sorry to say that’s where it lands – or sheer stupidity,’ Prof Langton told the forum.
‘If you look at any reputable fact-checker, every one of them says the no case is substantially false, they are lying to you.’
This sparked uproar in the federal coalition, including federal Deputy Liberal Leader Sussan Ley.
Ms Ley told parliament on Tuesday Prof Langton had labelled ‘those advocating a no position as either ‘racist’ or ‘stupid”.
‘I challenge anyone to consider those remarks and not feel insulted by them,’ she told Sky News on Wednesday, adding that the coalition wasn’t part of the official no campaign.
Ms Ley also repeated her call for Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney to remove Prof Langton from the government’s referendum working group for ‘denigrating’ the ‘no’ campaign.
‘We need a respectful debate,’ she added.
Prof Langton rejected accusations from the ‘no’ campaign and its supporters, noting her comments were taken out of context and were referring to ‘no’ campaign tactics.
‘I deny it. It is absolutely not true,’ she told the ABC.
‘There is a recording of what I said at the Bunbury meeting and what I said is very clear – I was explaining how the ‘no’ campaign is using fear and lies to frighten voters into voting no.’
Prof Langton said it was racist to say that if someone voted ‘yes’, Aborigines would get compensation.
‘Nobody, not Aborigines, not anybody, gets compensation unless they are legally entitled to it,’ she said.
‘The no case is implying that if you vote ‘yes’, Aborigines, even if they are legally entitled to compensation, will get that compensation … so it is the ‘no’ campaign that is promoting division on the basis of race.’
The image posted on Tuesday to Mr Dutton’s Instagram account included comments attributed to the leader.
‘Australians are genuinely concerned about the unknown consequences of Labor’s risky Voice proposal, which is the biggest constitutional change in our history,’ the post said.
‘The prime minister should condemn these comments from leading voice advocate Marcia Langton.’
On Tuesday, Mr Albanese accused the ‘no’ campaign of resorting to shameful tactics following reports its volunteers were being directed to use fear to dissuade voters from supporting the proposed constitutional change.
‘It is as cynical and as shameful as you’d expect,’ he told parliament on Tuesday.
The referendum will be held on October 14.