Leading No campaigner Warren Mundine has walked back his previous support for treaty processes should the Voice referendum fail, while also hurling accusations that the Yes campaign are launching “racial attacks and abuse”.
While Mundine previously claimed treaties were more likely to be progressed if a No vote was successful, when asked to clarify his position, the No advocate instead referred to “Native Title and land rights”.
“These things have huge commercial outcomes for Aboriginal people in regard to jobs, in regards to training, and in regard to running their own business, and it's done a tremendous job for Aboriginal communities,” Mr Mundine told Sky News on Monday.
“That’s what I’m talking about.”
But when asked on ABC’s Insiders’ program whether treaties were more likely if the referendum failed, Mr Mundine responded: “Yeah because then, on 15 October, if it is a no vote, that’s when the real work starts.
Asked on Sky News about Marcia Langton’s comments that the No campaign was racist, Mundine accused Langton of being “out of touch with the Australian community.”
Mundine refused to be drawn on whether he would support a second referendum to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution should the Voice referendum fail, as has been proposed by Opposition leader Peter Dutton.
“My focus, because it is such an important thing, is to defeat this lie of a referendum and crush it,” he said.
It comes after Peter Dutton sided with Country Liberal Party senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, who is also a leader in the No campaign, as a split emerges in the opposition camp over treaties with First Nations people.
The Opposition Leader emphatically ruled out entering into treaty negotiations should the Voice be defeated and he win power at the next election.
“I want to see money spent on practical outcomes for Indigenous kids in remote and regional areas,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“I don’t want to see billions of dollars spent on treaties, where lawyers will line their pockets (through) treaties that are negotiated for 20 or 30 years. It’s completely unacceptable.”
Just three days earlier Senator Nampijinpa Price rejected a treaty with First Nations people at an event hosted by The Australian.
Senator Nampijinpa Price said she opposed treaties because “you can’t have a treaty with your own citizens”.
A major part of the No campaign has been to link the treaty-making process to the Voice referendum.
Mr Dutton on Monday again sought to link Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s support for the referendum to the treaty’s process.
But Mr Albanese encouraged voters to “look at the words that are proposed” and not what he says is a “fear campaign”.
“Like when marriage equality happened, there was a fear campaign about that too and no one’s existing marriage was affected. It just gave a group of people the same rights and it was a good thing to do,” Mr Albanese said on Coffs Coast radio.
“It was a fair thing to do and so is a vote for Yes on October 14.”