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The No campaign had gone quiet in the final week of the referendum campaign and is taking voters for granted, Yes23 leader Dean Parkin claims, as Peter Dutton argues Yes advocates have failed to argue their case on its merits and explain the Voice to Australians.
Parkin, the Yes campaign director, said he remained hopeful of a win because nearly one in four voters has yet to make up their mind, even though polls suggest a clear majority of Australians have turned against the Voice – fuelled by confusion about the proposal.
Yes23 spokesperson Dean Parkin said the No campaign had gone quiet in the final week.Credit: Getty Images
“The No campaign has gone very quiet this week. They seem to have put the cue in the rack,” Parkin said at a press conference in Canberra.
“They think that they have got this won. They are taking Australian voters for granted. The Yes campaign absolutely is not. We’re out there on the ground and we will be out there every minute between now and when polls close.”
Dutton, opposition spokeswoman for Indigenous Australians Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and other No leaders have held a series of media conferences and interviews this week, but the Yes campaign has ramped up its events schedule, taking advantage of its larger network of volunteers.
The opposition leader argued on Friday that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had “instinctively won their hearts because Australians do want better outcomes for Indigenous Australians”.
“But he hasn’t won their minds and that’s the reality for a vast majority of Australians, in my judgement, and I hope that people will vote No on the weekend, not to reject the proposition of helping or recognising Indigenous Australians, quite the opposite,” Dutton said.
“People roundly have rejected the Voice proposal and the prime minister wrote a cheque that he couldn’t cash.”
A spokesperson for Fair Australia, the main No body, responded to Parkin’s claim by saying the campaign was fighting until polls closed.
“Unlike the Yes campaign, we don’t have a $100 million war chest and free Qantas flights to fuel our final days of campaigning. Unlike the Yes campaign, we can’t afford to pay unionists to stand at polling places, which we know is happening,” he said.
Yes advocates have repeatedly denied the $100 million figure claimed by No campaigners and maintained their campaign funding is significantly less than that.
The Fair Australia spokesperson added: “While the Yes campaign is busy doing press conferences in Canberra and rubbing shoulders with celebrities in Marrickville, we’re focused on persuading voters to stand up against their divisive agenda.”
Albanese responded to a poll published in News Corp newspapers that suggested voters viewed the Voice as a third-order issue.
“What is in front of Australians will not impact the lives of 97 per cent of Australians, but it may make life better for the 3 per cent of Australians who are Indigenous,” he said.
“For people who have an eight-year gap in life expectancy; for Indigenous young males who are more likely to go to jail [than] to university; for a suicide rate that is twice as high for Indigenous Australians. We can do better.”
Voice advocate Noel Pearson warned undecided voters not to treat the referendum as if it were a federal election, and said if they wanted to punish Albanese, this was not the moment to do it.
“This is not about Liberal versus Labor, One Nation versus the Greens,” Pearson said.
“This is about the future of our country. I urge Australian voters to suspend your tribal loyalties to your favourite political party and vote for the country.
“If you want to take the bat to Anthony Albanese, do it in two years’ time at the next federal poll.
Asked whether Yes advocates had run a good campaign, Pearson said: “We had to be positive.
“There was no pathway for us in negativity.”
Former Coalition Indigenous affairs minister Ken Wyatt claimed his former party had borrowed tactics from right-wing US Republicans during the referendum campaign.
“Some of the tactics are [the] copybook out of America – the fake news, the statements of ‘you’ll end up paying Aboriginal people’, ‘you’ll lose land’, ‘you won’t be allowed to do this’,” Wyatt said on ABC Radio National.
“That was never the intent. We had the same fearmongering from my party over Mabo and the issues around the Wik decision. And this, I’m seeing being played out again. And that concerns me that we haven’t moved on.”
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