19 April, 2024
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‘Hearts, but not minds’: Dutton begins voice eulogies


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Peter Dutton says the Indigenous voice proposal won the hearts of Australians, but not their minds, as the final full day of campaigning gets under way.

The ‘yes’ and ‘no’ movements will use Friday to make their final pitches before voters hit the ballot boxes on Saturday.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will make a mad dash across the country with appearances scheduled in South Australia, Tasmania and NSW.

 More than four million Australians have already voted in the referendum. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

But the opposition leader appeared to begin eulogising the proposal on Friday, declaring the prime minister had “written a cheque he couldn’t cash”.

Things aren’t looking great for the ‘yes’ campaign, with polls from YouGov and Roy Morgan released on Thursday suggesting ‘no’ would poll 56 and 54 per cent respectively.

“The PM made a catastrophic mistake not providing the detail to Australians, he’s instinctively won their hearts because Australians do want better outcomes for Indigenous Australia, but he hasn’t won their minds,” Mr Dutton told ABC Radio.

“I hope people will vote no … people roundly have rejected the proposal, and the PM wrote a cheque that he couldn’t cash.”

 A number of pollsters are predicting a sweeping victory for the ‘no’ campaign. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS 

But the opposition leader wouldn’t address the question when asked if he’d need to reconcile his own party after the referendum, with a string of Liberals queuing up to back ‘yes’ despite the party’s formal ‘no’ position. 

They include former prime ministers, the country’s only current Liberal premier, current MPs, and former Liberal premiers and Indigenous Australians spokespeople.

One of them – former Indigenous Australians minister Ken Wyatt – said he was disappointed with Mr Dutton’s personal involvement in the ‘no’ campaign and said the opposition leader had never had a serious discussion with him about the voice.

“The arguments that he’s putting forward are not factual, they’re contentious in order to create fear and division,” Mr Wyatt told ABC Radio.

“Some of the tactics are copied out of America, the fake news, the statements of ‘you’ll end up paying Aboriginal people’, ‘you’ll lose land’, ‘you won’t be allowed to do this’ … that was never the intent.”

On Saturday, Australians will decide whether to change the constitution to recognise Indigenous people and enshrine an advisory body called the voice.

For the proposal to pass, a majority of all Australians and a majority in at least four of the six states need to support the change.

The prime minister reiterated the voice was not his idea, but rather a grassroots movement from Indigenous people.

“This is not my campaign, this is a request from First Australians made in 2017 at Uluru after years of consultation with thousands of Australians, across hundreds of meetings across many years,” Mr Albanese told Nine’s Today Show.

“(On Thursday) I was with Ken Wyatt … pleading for Australians to vote ‘yes’, because he has seen the lack of progress.”

More than four million Australians have already voted in the referendum.

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