Peter Dutton has taken a savage swipe at the Yes campaign after they claimed an iconic John Farnham anthem for the Voice.
Farnham has given his blessing to the campaign to use his Aussie classic ‘You’re The Voice’ in an ad that features old footage of sports star Cathy Freeman winning gold at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Other Aussie moments in the two-minute advert are Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generation, John Howard’s gun reforms after the Port Arthur massacre and the passing of same-sex marriage in 2016.
Mr Dutton dryly noted during a Sunday morning interview with Sky News the lyrics to the hit-song could backfire spectacularly.
The Opposition leader, who opposes Labor’s version of a constitutionally enshrined Voice, said the full chorus of Farnham’s song: ‘You’re the Voice, try and understand it’, was very appropriate considering the Voice has been criticised for lacking detail.
‘In a sense, it’s the appropriate theme song for the Yes campaign, because remember that the key line in the lyrics there is, you know, ‘you’re the voice, try to understand it’,’ he said.
‘I honestly don’t think most Australians understand it. And they want to be informed.’
John Farnham (pictured) is officially backing Australia’s Yes campaign in support of giving an Indigenous voice to Parliament
Mr Dutton accused Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of being ‘tricky and sneaky’ in withholding information until after the October 14 referendum, which will decide if the Voice is constitutionally established.
‘The problem is not that entertainers and people from the top end of town are supporting the Voice or lending their support to it, it’s that the Prime Minister won’t support the public in their decision-making,’ Mr Dutton argued.
‘He’s deliberately withholding information and withholding that information until after the election, he’s been very clear about that he will give you the detail after the vote has taken place, which is quite remarkable
However, Mr Dutton said if the referendum on October 14 fails then he will hold a referendum to constitutionally recognise Indigenous Australians without establishing the body.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the Farnham song was unintentionally apt for the Yes campaign
‘We went to the last election, and a number of elections before that, with that as our policy and that will be our policy going into the next election as well,’ he told Sky News.
‘I think it’s right and respectful to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution, we will work with the Labor Party to find a common ground.
‘I believe very strongly that that is the right thing to do,’ he said.
He said Labor’s proposed Voice, which they say will be a purely advisory body but others claim is a stepping stone towards creating a treaty with Indigenous Australians is what divides Australians.
‘It will not provide the practical outcomes,’ he said.
‘It will change the way of government very significantly, because of the broad words.’
‘And I think it would grind the process of government decision-making to a near halt.’
On Sunday Farnham, 74, said ‘You’re The Voice’ had ‘changed my life’ and he hoped it could be transformative in a wider sence.
The singer, 74, has provided his iconic song You’re The Voice for an official campaign ad
‘I can only hope that it now might help, in some small way, to change the lives of our First Nations people for the better,’ Farnham said.
It marks the first time Farnham has allowed his song to be used for political purposes with the singer steering clear of political and social issues throughout his 50-year-long career.
Other Aussie moments featuring in the two-minute advert with the song as soundtrack are Kevin Rudd’s Stolen Generation apology, John Howard’s gun reforms after the Port Arthur massacre and the passing of same-sex marriage in 2016.
It also includes the government handing back Uluru to its traditional owners in 1985, Australia’s Americas Cup win in 1983, and the court case led by Eddie Mabo in 1992 that paved the way for Indigenous land rights.
The ad carries the original recording of Farnham’s song, which was first released in 1986.
Tim Wheatley, the son of Farnham’s manager Glenn Wheatley, added: ‘Win or lose this referendum, this song will forever remain on the right side of history.’
The ad is directed by award-winning filmmaker and Kaytetye man Warwick Thornton.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Wednesday that the referendum will be held on October 14.
Australia’s last referendum was held 24 years ago in 1999 to decide whether the country should become a republic.
The referendum will enshrine in the constitution an indigenous voice to Parliament, aimed at giving Aboriginal Australians a direct role in the country’s political decisions.
Mr Albanese has long maintained confidence that the referendum would succeed despite opinion polls showing marginal majority support for the Voice waning in recent months as the public debate has become more heated and divisive.
‘I think people will begin to focus more. I expect that many Australians won’t focus until the last few weeks,’ Albanese told reporters. ‘A majority of Australians will come to an answer that there’s nothing to lose here, only upside.’
The ad shows a family watching historical Australian moments on a television, including Cathy Freeman winning gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, as You’re The Voice blasts
The Yes campaign will need a majority of Australians and a majority in at least four of the six states in order to succeed. Only eight of 44 referendums have succeeded in Australia’s 122 year history – all with bipartisan support.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) will deliver 13million information pamphlets to Australian households over the next few weeks.
‘From aged care facilities to suburban homes, from outback stations, to high-rise apartments, we’re working with Australia Post to deliver the pamphlets right around the country,’ Australian electoral officer Nye Coffey said.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Wednesday the referendum will be held on October 14
Yes campaigner Noel Pearson said South Australia’s vote would be crucial to ensure the Yes campaign wins a majority in at least four of six states.
Warren Mundine, a No campaigner, said the final push would be ‘a real battle for the hearts and minds of the Australian public out there’.
The latest polls have support for the Voice slumping in every state, and according to the latest Newspoll surveys the ‘Yes’ vote is ahead in only SA and NSW.
The votes are evenly split in Victoria, while the ‘No’ vote is leading in WA, Queensland, and Tasmania.