Australia PM slams opposition use of scare tactics in Indigenous vote
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the opposition's "scare campaigns" underestimated voters.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Monday criticized sides using fear tactics in the so-called Voice referendum to give Indigenous Australians the right to have a say on laws that affect them.
If passed, Indigenous people -- whose ancestors have lived on the continent for at least 60,000 years -- would gain a constitutional right to be consulted by the Australian government on laws that impact their community.
More than 200 years after British colonization and the following persecution of Indigenous people, they remain greatly disadvantaged with higher incarceration and jobless rates, and a life expectancy about eight years shorter than that of other Australians, as per AFP.
Albanese has pointed to the symbolic nature of the proposal, which if passed, would not grant a right of veto to Indigenous people.
"All it's about is recognising Aboriginal people in our constitution and, secondly, saying that where matters affect them we should listen to them," the center-left Labor leader told a radio interviewer.
In a separate speech, the Prime Minister pointed out that the opposition's "scare campaigns" underestimated voters.
He stressed in prepared remarks released in advance to local media that Australians would not be tempted by "ludicrous invitations to jump at our own shadows."
"Australians have a healthy scepticism of doomsayers, a scepticism kept in good health by memories of all the predictions offered by the Chicken Littles of the past," Albanese said.
Polls suggest that the "yes" vote is still ahead in a two-way race, despite signs of loss in support since the conservative opposition chose to push for a "no".
Support for the Voice proposal at 59%: Survey
A survey conducted by Essential Research and published in mid-May found that support for the Voice proposal was at 59%.
Last week, conservative opposition Liberal Party leader Peter Dutton considered that the Voice would "re-racialise our nation."
"It will have an Orwellian effect where all Australians are equal, but some Australians are more equal than others," Dutton claimed.
On Monday, he accused the proposal's supporters of using race to attack its opposers.
"The prime minister out there name-calling people and others suggesting that people are racist because they don't support the Voice -- it's completely unacceptable," Dutton said.
'Unrelenting' racial abuse drives Australian Indigenous journalist out
The recent debate over Indigenous recognition has already caused a remarkable incident.
This month, Stan Grant, one of Australia's most notable journalists, quit his post as anchor of a major program at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), citing "relentless" racial attacks that he faced as an Indigenous person.
In his departure announcement, Grant stressed that Indigenous people had learned to "tough it out," but the stakes are now higher, as Australia prepares for the referendum.
"There is a referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and I am not alone in feeling judged. This is an Australian judgement on us. Such is politics," he wrote.
"But racism is a crime. Racism is violence. And I have had enough."
It is noteworthy that the vote is scheduled to take place in the last three months of the year.