A Yes campaign ad claiming Indigenous Australians have not been listened to for the “last 250 years” has been branded “false and insulting” by critics.
The Yes23 campaign launched the new TV ad on Tuesday evening as part of a final $20 million ad blitz aimed at urging voters to support the Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the October 14 referendum.
The slick new ad – which features images of children playing and smiling Aboriginal Australians – begins: “Teams listen to their coaches, kids listen to their parents, well, every once in a while.
“When we listen, we understand. When we understand, we can help,” the ad begins.
“For the last 250 years, we have not listened to the people who have been here for 65,000 people.”
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The new Yes23 advert said “listening works”, but also said Indigenous Australians hadn’t been listened to for 250 years.
Australia’s Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Linda Burney, released the new ad on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, saying: “We know that listening works” – a key message pushed by the Prime Minister.
Speaking on 2GB on Wednesday, radio host Ben Fordham called the Yes message “wrong, insulting and stupid”.
Fordham gave several examples of high-profile responses to Indigenous grievances that he said show people listened.
They included the national apology to the Stolen Generation in 2008 and the Whitlam government returning Wave Hill station to the Gurindji people, immortalized in Paul Kelly’s much-loved song From Little Things Big Things Grow.
“I think it’s an insult to anyone and everyone who listened,” Fordham said.
“Why did we issue a national apology to the Stolen Generation, why did we have major court decisions supporting land rights, why did 250,000 Australians walk across the Sydney Harbor Bridge?
“Why did Paul Keating give his historic Redfern speech, why do we have a specific Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, why are we employing thousands of people to try to find solutions, why are we investing billions of dollars to close the gap?
“I’ll tell you why – because we listened.”
Keating was the first Prime Minister to publicly acknowledge to Aboriginal people that European settlers were responsible for the difficulties Aboriginal communities continued to face in his 1992 speech.
Fordham questioned how the “false” claim got traction in the new $20 million ad blitz. “I don’t know who approved that line in the new Yes23 ad.”
No campaigner Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price criticized the ad in the Daily Mail Australia: “The Yes campaign’s persistent and controversial criticism of Australia is disappointing but to be expected.
“They can make up all the lies they want about how Voice will solve Indigenous disadvantage, but the fact remains: dividing the country along racial lines won’t help anyone.”
Some social media reactions to Ms Burney’s launch of the advert were in a similar vein.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t your job as Minister of Indigenous Affairs and the multi-billion dollar NIAA you lead your purpose to listen to? » declared a follower of the “conservative liberals”.
“Why another bureaucracy to do the work you’re supposed to do?
Another woman echoed the response: “Well, if you know that listening works, why not just listen?” No need to change our Constitution.
Some, however, defended the ad. “Great little promotion Totally works for me YES YES YES,” one man posted on the Yes23 Facebook page.
“Listening really enlightens people. I love it!’ » said a woman from Sydney.
In response to Ms Burney’s launch, another woman said “doing the same thing again wouldn’t work”.
“If a government can consult with people affected by disadvantage using a model agreed by your parliamentary representatives, this must be a step in the right direction.”
Radio presenter Ben Fordham cited the iconic moment when then-Prime Minister Gough Whitlam returned land to Aboriginal man Vincent Lingiari as a clear example of how Aboriginal people were listened to.
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Daily Mail Australia has contacted the Yes23 team and the No campaign for comment, as well as the Cape York Foundation and the Charles Perkins Center at the University of Sydney.
Last week, Anthony Albanese urged Australians to “listen” to indigenous people who want the Yes campaign to succeed.
“What we need to do is listen to them,” Albanese said.
“And whether it’s Cathy Freeman or Timana Tahu or Johnathan Thurston or Michael Long or Eddie Betts or Greg Inglis, they all say, ‘Please vote yes.’
“I hope people will listen to Cathy Freeman’s very clear and unequivocal call for people to vote yes.”