Detail on receipt sparks ugly conspiracy in Australia ahead of referendum

Misinformation about the proposed indigenous body continues to spread online.

A photo of an international restaurant receipt doing the rounds on social media has sparked wild theories about the Voice to Parliament referendum, as misinformation about the proposed body continues to spread online.

The image shows a bill from a pizza restaurant in Tofino, British Columbia in Canada. But a small 1 per cent land tax has triggered unfounded suggestions about future demands in Australia.

At the bottom of the receipt from Basic Goodness Pizzeria is an 80 cent charge with the words "the land you are on" written alongside it.

At the bottom of the receipt, it explains the pizzeria has voluntarily adopted a proposal to help provide a small portion of funds to preserve and revitalise the local indigenous culture and land.

Canada restaurant receipt showing land tax.
A restaurant receipt from Canada shows a land tax of 1 per cent paid to Canadian Indigenous Indians for land rent. Source: Facebook

The restaurant verified the receipt with Yahoo News Australia but said the charge is voluntary, as it is across the province after a proposal by local First Nations people reportedly called for some profits of the tourism industry to be used towards maintaining the land.

Skeptics and critics of the indigenous Voice proposal in Australia have seized on the image – and other false claims of reparations and 'rent payments' – to share disinformation on social media.

"I wonder if this is the next plan for us to pay the rent!" a WA man wrote on Facebook, implying Australians could soon see the same. "This is Canada, but watch and wait, it wouldn't be too big of a step for this to be the next answer."

Misinformation about the Voice continues to spread

Online misinformation about the proposed Voice in Parliament continues to spread, and last month, widespread claims were made about a supposed list of "secret" demands linked to the Voice referendum.

A viral Instagram post claimed to reveal "secret documents" from the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) which said Australians would be forced to pay various taxes and levies, including land tax, to the Indigenous voice to parliament. The post was deemed "misleading" and was subsequently removed from social media, AAP reported.

According to ABC, the comments highlighted in the claim are not part of the voice proposal at all and instead were meeting minutes from dialogues with First Nations communities held more than six years ago. The purpose at the time was to discuss what future constitutional recognition might look like.

A graphic showing a map of Australia, and the Yes or No vote for the Voice to Parliament in each state.
A graphic showing a map of Australia, and the Yes or No vote for the Voice to Parliament in each state.

Just last week, leaflets began appearing in letterboxes in suburban Melbourne telling recipients to "vote no". The leaflets made the unfounded claim the Voice body would lead to more taxes but had no official authorisation or signatories, the Financial Review reported.

The leaflet supposedly argued "the Voice forces Australians into Treaty", and Treaty "could include reparations, a financial settlement, the resolution of land water and resource issues" and mean that "Australians pay a percentage of GDP [sic], and are forced to pay rates/ land tax/ royalties to the Voice” — a claim that's since been quashed.

PM shuts down 'compensation' claims

In a fiery interview with 2GB's Ben Fordham last week, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese sought to put the kibosh on the notion that the Voice was about paying any reparations.

"We have had a debate about things that aren’t happening rather than about things that are," he lamented.

"Compensation has nothing to do with what people will vote (for) in the last quarter of this year."

What is the Voice to Parliament?

The proposed changes to the constitution would involve a new advisory body composed of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people called the Voice to Parliament. The group would advise the government on the issues that affect them and their communities, with an aim to improve the lives of Indigenous people.

Those voting in favour of the Voice say they believe the laws could:

  • Give First Nations people a route to help inform policy and legal decisions that impact them.

  • Be a big step in closing the gap.

  • Create a stronger sense of unity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would finally be mentioned in the Constitution via the Voice, which cannot be shut down by future governments.

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