ABC host Lisa Millar questioned Opposition Leader Sussan Ley over a controversial image posted by Peter Dutton which claimed Marcia Langton called non-voters racist or stupid.
Mr Dutton posted a graphic on Instagram of Professor Langton, an architect of Indigenous Voice to Parliament, standing next to Anthony Albanese with the words “No voters called ‘racist, stupid’ by prominent Voice campaigner Marcia Langton.
Professor Langton – who claimed earlier this week she was referring to the No campaign’s tactics and not her voters – has used lawyers to try to get Mr Dutton’s position removed.
Millar clashed with Mr Dutton’s deputy, Ms Ley, during a fiery interview on ABC News Breakfast on Thursday morning, with Millar asking why Mr Dutton had not yet removed the post.
Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley (right) was questioned by ABC host Lisa Millar (left) about a controversial image posted on social media by Peter Dutton of Marcia Langton, campaign leader of Voice Yes, who claimed she said no voters were racist and stupid.
“Your leader, Peter Dutton, is still on his social media this morning, tThe Australian newspaper’s headline was removed: ‘No voter called stupid racist by prominent Voice campaigner,’ Millar said.
“Do you accept that she didn’t do that in that meeting?” And why wouldn’t Peter Dutton remove this from his social media posts?
Ms Ley responded by saying Professor Langton’s comments suggested that “the arguments at the heart of the No campaign are either racist or stupid”.
The Liberal politician then referenced other comments in which the academic said “definite no” voters were “spewing racism” before being interrupted by Millar.
Millar doubled down: “So it’s good to have him up there?” So you’re not shying away from this idea, is that what you’re saying?
Ms Ley replied: “No, I’m not Lisa because this isn’t a Liberal versus Labor showdown.
“It’s about the campaign, the message and the refusal of this government to distance itself or condemn people who say these things.”
“Look, one in five Australians don’t spew racism, we’re not a racist country, it’s okay to vote no, without this condemnation.”
The image of Professor Langton standing next to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese includes the words “No voter called ‘racist, stupid’ by prominent Voice campaigner Marcia Langton” under the Australian newspaper’s logo.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton (pictured) shared the photo on his Instagram account on Tuesday and has not removed it.
Professor Langton’s first remarks on racism made at a forum in Bunbury, Western Australia.
“Every time the No cases raise their arguments, if you start to dismantle them, you get to base racism – I’m sorry to say that’s where it lands – or sheer stupidity,” a- she declared.
“If you look at any reputable fact-checker, every one of them says that the No thesis is essentially false. They’re lying to you.’
“I asked the No voters, what do you think would be the best option? What do we have to do? Continue as we are, without change?
“I haven’t heard any of them come up with a solution that would work themselves.”
Meanwhile, Ms Ley’s reference to Professor Langton saying “non-categorical voters” were “spewing racism” was revealed in unearthed footage taken from a panel discussion on Voice to Parliament at the University of Queensland in July.
The video, broadcast on Sky News Australia, shows Professor Langton discussing a “rise” in racism amid the Voice debate.
She said: “The wave of racist nonsense is confined to a minority of Australians.
Professor Marcia Langton made the comments at a forum in Bunbury, Western Australia, and said Australians needed to look more closely at the No campaign’s claims.
“Ordinary Australians think: ‘yes, of course I vote for The Voice’. And that would be 48 or 49 percent.
“Then there are the No voters. I hope they are around 20 percent.
“And they are the ones spewing racism.”
Further audio emerged on Thursday morning showing Professor Langton telling an audience in 2017 that Australia “is a horribly racist country”.
“Of course Australia is racist. It’s a horrible, racist country,” she said.
The Voice referendum will take place on October 14.