A controversial full-page advertisement printed in Thursday’s edition of the Australian Financial Review has sparked outrage and been labelled "grotesque" and "racist" as tensions continue to rise over the Voice to Parliament proposal.
The cartoon, paid for by right-wing group Advance Australia, depicts a towering Wesfarmers Chairman Michael Chaney dangling a $2 million stack of cash in front of Voice to Parliament architect Thomas Mayo, who appears to have been made to look like a little boy. Teal MP Kate Chaney can also be seen sitting on Mr Chaney’s lap, wearing a child-like dress and crown.
Last month, Wesfarmers donated $2 million to the Yes campaign ahead of the referendum, following a similar donation from mining giant BHP.
MPs slam Advance Australia advertisement
The advertisement has left many furious, with former NSW treasurer and Voice supporter MP Matt Kean taking to Twitter to slam the "racist trope of Thomas May", saying it “has no place in Australian politics".
"It’s a throwback to the Jim Crow era of the Deep South," he continued, referring to racial segregation in the US. "The No Campaign has every right to be heard but can do much better than this."
The racist trope of Thomas Mayo in today's full page AFR ad has no place in Australian politics. It's a throwback to the Jim Crow era of the Deep South. The No Campaign has every right to be heard but can do much better than this. pic.twitter.com/D6Hf4IhXE2
— Matt Kean MP (@Matt_KeanMP) July 6, 2023
Independent MP Zali Steggall also criticised the cartoon and asked if it reflects the newspaper’s values. “With media freedom comes responsibility and this is unacceptable,” she chided. “It highlights the deeply racist believes of Advance Australia and should never be accepted for publication.”
Does this racist trope reflect your values @FinancialReview? With media freedom comes responsibility and this is unacceptable. It highlights the deeply racist beliefs of Advance Australia & should never be accepted for publication. #auspol pic.twitter.com/06rULxT3Pe
— 🌏 Zali Steggall MP (@zalisteggall) July 6, 2023
Numerous other Twitter users also reacted strongly, labelling the cartoon as "grotesque", "appalling" and "totally unacceptable".
Yahoo News Australia has sought comment from Advance Australia and the Yes23 campaign.
"The Yes campaign elites playing the race card straight off the top of the deck," a spokesperson for Advance Australia said. "Matt Kean can keep his elitist Sydney views to himself."
The group argued the advertisement amounts to "a parody of the close [alleged] relationship" between Teal politicians, corporations and activists.
Linda Burney calls Peter Dutton a 'bully boy'
The fury comes one day after Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney accused Opposition Leader Peter Dutton of being a “bully boy” for criticising big businesses for supporting a ‘yes’ vote on the Voice.
In an address at the national press club, Ms Burney also accused the ‘no’ campaign was using Trump-style politics. "Do not let the ‘no’ campaign get their way with using Trump-style politics in Australia. Do not let them divide us. The proposed change is constitutionally sound and legally safe," she said.
She said if the referendum got up she would ask the voice for advice on policy, including the four key sectors of health, education, jobs and housing.
In retort, Nationals leader David Littleproud labelled Ms Burney’s comments "disappointing".
"As political leaders, we’ve got a responsibility to set the tone and it’s important that the minister had an opportunity to in fact put any mistruths to bed, but in fact couldn’t," he told the ABC. "She couldn’t answer the questions around the details and the mechanics of the Voice, about how this would actually shift the dial particularly those in regional remote areas."
Polls have shown support for the 'yes' vote slipping, but Ms Burney said Australia needed new perspectives to solve old challenges.
"For too long governments have made polices for Indigenous Australians, not with Indigenous Australians," she Wednesday.
The referendum's success depends on a double majority, more than 50 per cent support across the country and in a majority of the Australian states.
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