Albo cracks it in 38-minute grilling

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The Prime Minister has taken aim at Ben Fordham during a radio interview. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Anthony Albanese has taken aim at 2GB’s Ben Fordham in a head-to-head clash in which the Prime Minister accused the radio host of reading directly from the ‘no’ campaign.

In an at times bruising 38-minute interview, the Sydney shock jock interrogated Mr Albanese about flagging support for the Voice to parliament and whether the model of Indigenous recognition and advisory body should be changed.

“We know that when the Voice asks for something that you don't like, you’re going to say no anyway, so why not lead at a time like this and don’t risk the very important recognition in the constitution for Indigenous Australians by getting it tied up with the Voice?” Mr Fordham asked.

“When you have a look at those numbers, it's falling through the floor, so why not use your power as Prime Minister … legislate the voice and let us vote on recognition.”

The referendum, which would enshrine the advisory body in the constitution, will be put to the people later this year despite a decline in support reflected in recent opinion polls.

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Mr Albanese clashed with Ben Fordham over the Voice. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Mr Albanese did not hold back any punches of his own as he urged Mr Fordham to “get on board” with the proposal and reiterated the radio host had the responsibility to not raise “red herrings” on his program.

“You know full well when this is successful and there is a Voice, you know it won’t have a veto (on government policy),” the Prime Minister began.

“I understand, but I’m worried about it failing,” the radio host quipped back.

“Well get on board Ben. Guess what. You’re in a position to make a difference and (fight) to help it succeed, as (are) other people in the media, by talking what it’s about, not by raising things that are not going to be relevant.”

The Prime Minister has repeatedly hosed down calls to shelve the Voice and instead focus on constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Mr Albanese said to do so was the “definition of being dumb”. “If we just keep doing things the same way, we need to do things better, we need to listen to Indigenous Australians about matters that affect them,” he said.

In recent months, the government has faced a barrage of questions from the opposition about the extent of influence the Voice will have, should Australians agree to establish the body.

The referendum will be put to Australians later this year. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

Mr Fordham took up the issue again on Wednesday, reading off a number of quotes from the leaders of the ‘yes’ campaign, including from Professor Megan Davis – one of the architects of the Voice – who said the body would be able to talk directly to cabinet and the Reserve Bank.

“I wonder if you agree with them on some of the following points … yes or no, will the voice be able to speak directly to the RBA?” the radio host asked.

“I can’t talk directly to the RBA board and I’m the Prime Minister … Can I just make this point because I know where you’re reading from. You’re reading from the ‘no’ pamphlet,” Mr Albanese responded.

Mr Fordham hit back and slammed the Labor leader for accusing him of not doing his own homework: “Excuse me Prime Minister … I’m reading from my own questions that I have written so I don’t misquote people.”

On Tuesday, the Australian Electoral Commission published essays from politicians aligned with the yes and no campaigns online.

In it’s essay, the campaign made several references to comments made by Thomas Mayo, a prominent member of the referendum working group, who said the Voice would lead to reparations and compensation being paid to Indigenous Australians.

Asked if that would be the case, the Prime Minister ruled it out.

“We have had a debate about things that aren’t happening rather than about things that are,” he said.

“Compensation has nothing to do with what people will vote in the last quarter of this year.”

Mr Albanese committed to adopting the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full during his election night victory speech last year.