Parliament’s “No” activist Warren Mundine is “as confused as anyone” over a situation where an Indigenous man has been wrongly identified as the grandson of famous Aboriginal activist Vincent Lingiari.
The “No” campaign website featured a picture of Stewart Lingiari, identifying him as one of several prominent case studies supporting the fight against the referendum.
In the ads, Mr. Lingiari says: “I don’t want you to look at me any differently.” So I vote “no”.
He is described as Vincent Lingiari’s grandson – which was later refuted by both Vincent’s true descendants and Mr. Lingiari himself.
Mr Lingiari – who got his last name from his adoptive parents and has no relation to Vincent – meanwhile denounced his involvement in the project.
The “No” campaign website featured a picture of Stewart Lingiari, identifying him as one of several prominent case studies supporting the fight against the referendum
He said he was “not from this family” and barely understood what the “Voice to Parliament” was when asked to help promote the “No” campaign.
And on ABC Radio National, Mr Mundine said he too was puzzled by the miscommunication.
“The only thing I did here was trust someone who introduced themselves as a specific person,” he said.
“I’m very confused – just like everyone else.”
Mr Lingiari will be removed from all promotional materials within the next two days, Mr Mundine said, as the ‘No’ campaign aims to find out what went wrong.
The Ngukurr man – about 770 km (or 12 hours) from Vincent’s family in the Northern Territory – also claimed he was given a script for the promotional video which he could read.
Parliament’s “No” activist Warren Mundine is “as confused as anyone” over a situation where an Indigenous man has been wrongly identified as the grandson of famous Aboriginal activist Vincent Lingiari
Mr Mundine denies this and says he is concerned for Mr Lingiari’s wellbeing as a result of the controversy.
Describing their first meeting in Canberra, Mr Mundine says he was given no reason not to trust the group.
“He was introduced to me as Vincent Lingiari’s grandson… I said, ‘Wow, really?’ and he said ‘yes’,” claimed Mr Mundine.
“I said, ‘It’s an honor to meet you’ … we had conversations the two days we were together.”
Mr Mundine was questioned about the rigor of his vetting process in finding spokespersons for the ‘No’ campaign, but he insists his only fault was being overconfident.
He assured the public that his primary concern was to remain a source of truthful and accurate information on the Voice to Parliament referendum and the community response.
In the ads, Mr Lingiari says: “I don’t want you to look at me any differently.” So I vote no.
He is described as Vincent Lingiari’s grandson – which was later refuted by both Vincent’s true descendants and Mr. Lingiari himself
“We will make sure as much as possible that we always double check before releasing anything.”
“It’s about truth and trust – that’s what I’m working on and I want to make sure everyone understands that things need to be checked.”
But he also noted that this is a “strange situation” that he has never found himself in before.
“I’ve never been in a situation like this where someone introduces themselves to me as someone and later says they’re not… We did the right thing back then.”
Mr Lingiari insists he did not introduce himself as Vincent’s grandson.
Despite the back and forth, Mr Mundine is confident he will get a ‘No’ majority in the referendum.
Australians are asked if they support the establishment of the Voice to Parliament to recognize tribal peoples in the constitution. The government has earmarked $364.6 million for the referendum in this budget.
Anthony Albanese tries to introduce a vote in Parliament
To be successful, the vote needs the support of a majority of Australians in most states.
The Voice will set up a body to “represent the Commonwealth Parliament and Executive Government on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues”.
This body – made up of indigenous peoples of different ages and demographics – would advise the government.
His campaign alongside shadow minister for Indigenous Australians Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has seen a surge of support in recent days, with new polls suggesting support for the vote is faltering.
A poll shows just over half of Australians still support the vote, but the percentage of people wanting to vote ‘yes’ has fallen from 58 per cent to 53 per cent in the last month.
Resolve Strategic’s poll for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers shows that if the trend continues, the No campaign is on track to win.
Liberal MP Julian Leeser, who quit the opposition party over his party’s negative stance on The Voice, said he would film amendments next week to change the proposed model in hopes of bolstering public support.
Among his proposed amendments is that the role of the voice in advising the government on laws affecting Aboriginal people should be enshrined in law, but not constitutionally as in the current proposal.
Mr Leeser said the poll showed electoral prospects for the vote “are not going as they should” and that some watering down of the proposal was needed to ensure it would be adopted.
“The best way to improve the prospects is to narrow the no-case arguments,” he said.
“I am a supporter of the voice, I will vote yes in the referendum, the amendments I propose will improve the voice’s electoral prospects.”
What we know so far about the Voice to Parliament
Here, Daily Mail Australia addresses some of the key questions about the Voice so far and how the government has been handling them:
What advice can the Voice give to Parliament and the Government?
The voice advises on matters directly related to indigenous peoples.
She will respond to government requests while having the power to proactively engage in matters they believe affect her.
The group will have its own resources to research issues and work with communities at grassroots level to ensure it best reflects their needs.
How are the members of the voice selected?
Members of the Voice will be appointed by indigenous communities and will serve on the committee for a specified period of time to be determined.
The way in which the communities elect their representatives is agreed by the local communities jointly with the government as part of a “post-referendum process” to ensure cultural legitimacy.
Who can become a member of the committee?
Members of the voice must be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander residents.
They are selected from all states and territories and are gender balanced at the national level.
The government has also guaranteed that young people will be included on the committee to ensure they are represented throughout the community.
Will the voice be transparent?
The government says the Voice will be subject to review and reporting to ensure it is held accountable and remains transparent.
Voice members are subject to the standards of the National Anti-Corruption Commission and will be subject to sanctions or expulsion from the committee if misconduct is discovered.
Will the vote have veto power?
Will the voice work independently from other government agencies?
The committee must respect the work and role of existing organizations, the government says.
Will the voice handle the means?
The Voice will not directly manage any money or provide services to the community.
Its sole role will be to provide opinions on how to improve existing government programs and services and to advise on new ideas put forward by the parties.