The latest Yes campaign advertisement supporting the Indigenous Voice to Parliament has been blasted for making a “false and insulting” claim about Australians.
The Yes23 campaign released the new television commercial on Tuesday night that urges voters to “listen” to Indigenous people; something it says as not been done “for the last 250 years”.
The ad shows sports teams, children playing, and a number of First Nations people to demonstrate that “listening works”; but said Indigenous Australians had not been listened to for “250 years”.
“Teams listen to their coaches. Children listen to their parents – well, most of the time,” the voiceover says.
“When we listen, we understand. When we understand, we can help.
“But for the last 250 years we haven’t listened to the people who have been here for 65,000.”
Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney shared the ad to X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday writing that “listening” is what the Voice is about.
“We know that listening works,” she wrote.
“When governments listen, they make better decisions, get better results, and deliver better value for money.
“That’s what the Voice is about – listening.”
But the ad has copped criticism from No campaigners, including opposition Indigenous affairs spokeswoman Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and 2GB radio host Ben Fordham.
On Wednesday morning, Fordham told his listeners he thought the ad was “false, insulting and stupid”.
He questioned how the claim about Australians not listening to First Nations people was approved and included for the ad — which is part of a last-ditch $20 million advertising blitz.
“I don’t know who approved that line in the new Yes23 ad,” he said.
“It’s an insult to anyone and everyone who has listened.”
Fordham listed a number of high-profile and watershed responses to Indigenous Australians’ concerns, including the 2008 national apology to the Stolen Generation and the Whitlam government returning Wave Hill station to the Gurindji people in 1975.
He said the events were proof that Australians had listened to Indigenous Australians.
“Why did we make a national apology to the Stolen Generation? Why have we had major court decisions supporting land rights? Why did 250,000 Australians march across the Sydney Harbour Bridge?” Fordham asked.
“Why did Paul Keating deliver his historic Redfern speech? Why do we have specific minister for Indigenous Affairs? Why do we employ thousands of people to try and find solutions? Why do we invest billions of dollars closing the gap?
“I’ll tell you why – because we have listened.”
Senator Price slammed the ad, telling the Daily Mail Australia it was the latest piece of the Yes campaign’s “persistent and divisive criticism of Australia”, which was “disappointing but to be expected”.
“They can make up all the lies they want about how the Voice will solve Indigenous disadvantage, but the fact remains: dividing the country by race will not help anyone,” she told the outlet.
Responses on social media to Ms Burney’s post featuring the ad featured similar criticism, and many questions asking why government was not listening to Indigenous people now, without a referendum.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t your job as Indigenous affairs minister and the multi-billion dollar NIAA [National Indigenous Australians Agency] which you head, isn’t it your purpose to listen?” one “conservative liberal” one person wrote.
Another user replied: “If you know that listening works why don’t you just listen? No need to change our Constitution.”
Some, however, did Voice their support for the ad and the referendum on social media. One wrote that “listening really enlightens people”.
“‘If a government can consult with the very people affected by disadvantage using a model agreed upon by your parliamentary representatives, that has to be a move in the right direction,” someone else replied to Ms Burney.
The call to “listen” is not a new line for the Yes campaign, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been repeating the urge for Australians to do so even before the race to October 14 started.