Anthony Albanese has targeted everyday Australians in his first major interview after firing the starting gun on the Voice referendum.
He sat down with Ally Langdon on A Current Affair, with an average audience of nearly one million middle Australians, for an interview which unusually ran across the program’s full 30 minutes.
Just hours earlier, he had announced Australians will head to the polls on October 14 to vote in the first referendum this century, where the nation will decide whether it will say yes or no to an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
“For many years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have advocated for constitutional recognition through a Voice,” Mr Albanese said while launching the referendum in Adelaide.
“Our government, along with every single state and territory government, has committed to it. Legal experts have endorsed it.”
At the top of the Prime Minister’s media priority list on Wednesday night was not the harder-edged ABC, but rather Nine’s A Current Affair, where he was frequently asked by host Langdon about the validity of the Voice.
Langdon quickly leapt to one of the key criticisms of the Yes campaign – whether they have been able to explain the proposed advisory to voters who say they are confused about what the Voice will look like and what it will do.
“Saying it is clear and simple and straightforward does not simply make it so. People do not get it and that is a fact,” she told the PM.
The Prime Minister repeatedly assured Langdon and viewers who may have reservations that the proposal was “pretty straightforward” and that they would find all answers in the Voice booklet being sent to all households, urging those who are confused to “ask more questions”.
“It’s pretty straightforward. The first bit is recognition, then it says there’ll be a body that will give advice and then its composition and functions and procedures will be still subject to the Parliament,” he said.
“So it doesn‘t change the way that laws are made, it’s not a funding body, just an advisory body.”
Despite being confident that the nation will vote yes at the October 14 referendum, Mr Albanese said he would respect a no result and that Australia would not be a “racist” country in that case.
“I will respect the decisions that are made by the Australian people. If Australians vote no, I think that will be a lost opportunity but I will respect to that,” he said.
The PM’s calm and composed demeanour throughout the 30 minute segment as well as his choice of program could be interpreted as a push toward the undecided in middle Australia, given that A Current Affair’s broad viewership skews towards older and conservative.
“A Current Affair is Australia’s No. 1 public affairs program with a Total TV average audience of 884,000 viewers per episode since new host Ally Langdon joined the show,” Nine boasts on its website.