Australian singer Kamahl has backflipped on his support for the Voice to Parliament for a second time just two days after saying he would vote yes.
The 88-year-old wrote on social media on Friday that he would “vote YES” at the upcoming referendum on October 14, citing a meeting with Indigenous comedian Dane Simpson and constitutional lawyer Eddie Synot which saw him pledge support.
Yet two days later, the Malaysian-born singer has come out against his own stance, surprising the hosts of The Project by announcing live on-air that he would be voting no, during a bizarre interview that has been labelled a “train wreck” by viewers on social media.
“If you do the Voice this way, it becomes a racist issue. You’re putting a whole race of people separate from the rest of the country,” he said.
“I apologise, call me a hypocrite or uninformed but I am informed now,” he continued.
“Whatever I said before now, wipe it out, but start all over again and forgive me.”
Then Kamahl began to butt heads with host Hamish Macdonald after the singer began quoting a $40 billion figure that he believed was paid to the Indigenous community by the government, which the journalist “fact checked”.
“If this comes to be it becomes based on race, the Indigenous people already have a Voice, it‘s purely an opportunity of making an effort to find out what they want to say and what should be done for them,” he said on the program
“And at the moment it is $40 billion a year...what is the money going to?”
Kamahl was immediately pulled up by Macdonald, who asked him where he was “getting that figure from”.
“The $40 billion? I saw it in -- somebody told me. Do you think I’m making it up?” the singer shot back at the host.
The interview steered away from the topic, before Kamahl brought up the figure again, saying “...all I know is that they’re spending $40 billion”.
“I feel like we should just probably fact check the $40 billion figure because you’ve used it a few times and I know a lot of people are listening to you,” Macdonald responded.
“I think there was a claim made by Tony Abbott some years ago, that the National Indigenous Australians agency spent $30 billion a year.
“That‘s been fact checked as false. The government agency says it’s never administered funding of $30 billion a year on Indigenous programs, it’s total budget for 2022-23 was $4.5 billion.”
After a bit more back and forth between the pair, Kamahl admitted he had “made a mistake” on the figure but was still choosing to vote no.
When announcing his previous yes stance, Kamahl said he had spent “sleepless nights weighing the pros and cons”.
One the interview was over, The Project panel - who had seemingly expected Kamahl to speak about deciding to vote ‘Yes’ - appeared stunned and momentarily speechless.
Viewers on social media had a bit to say about the segment too, with one labelling it a “train wreck of an interview.”
“That was... very strange,” wrote another under The Project’s video of the segment on Twitter.
“Wow! He backflipped on his backflip on live TV,” wrote another.
Another viewer called it a “disastrous attempt by the project to sell the yes vote,” while others suggested Kamahl had “played” the program.