Outspoken Senator Lidia Thorpe has lashed out at leading no campaigners, accusing them of using “underhanded” tactics.
Ms Thorpe hit out after some of her quotes criticising the voice to parliament were used by conservative lobby group Advance as part of their campaign against the upcoming referendum.
Advance has recently established two Facebook groups, Referendum News and Not Enough, which have been targeting younger Aussies and undecided voters with social media ads featuring progressive critics of the voice.
One of those was Ms Thorpe, who has publicly declared her opposition to the referendum.
However, she told The Guardian she did not approve of her comments being used, and that she wanted them removed.
“The use of my image and quotes from myself and other activists is deceptive and underhanded,” she told the publication.
“I am not a part of their no campaign and my criticisms of the voice process have nothing in common with the arguments of [prominent no campaigners] Jacinta Price and Warren Mundine.”
A spokesman said the Referendum News initiative ‘complements the federal government’s multimillion-dollar referendum awareness campaign’.
An Advance spokesman told news.com.au the Not Enough campaign was “proud to unify as many Australians as possible behind the many reasons to vote no to the divisive voice”.
“We believe Australians opposing the voice for progressive reasons have been ignored and should now be heard,” the spokesman said.
“Inner-city voters need to hear there is a very different side to this story, one their Labor and Greens MPs are hellbent on hiding.”
The spokesman also explained that the Referendum News initiative “complements the federal government’s multimillion-dollar referendum awareness campaign announced on Sunday”.
“Our research shows that most Australians are not aware of the debate about the divisive voice playing out in the media,” the spokesman said.
“We are committed to ensuring as many Australians who are undecided or unaware about the referendum have access to content that shows there is another side to the voice story, one that goes beyond the vibe.
“There is no political commentary on this page, we simply share publicly available content from mainstream news services.”
The spokesman added that the page and its advertising is transparently authorised by Advance and is “completely compliant with AEC and Meta’s authorisation and transparency requirements”.
The latest controversy comes just days after the no campaign attracted backlash after an Indigenous man was falsely identified as high-profile land rights activist “Vincent Lingiari’s grandson”, leaving him “humiliated”.
A photo of Millwarparra man Stewart Lingiari has been widely shared on social media by No campaigners Nyunggai Warren Mundine and Jacinta Nampijinpa Price with the quote: “I don’t want you to look at me differently. That’s why I am voting no.”
Mr Mundine’s series of posts across various platforms included the caption: “Vincent Lingiari’s grandson is voting No!”, while Ms Price shared the same photo and quote on her Twitter account with the caption, “Vincent Lingiari’s grandson thinks otherwise….#VoteNOAustralia”.
Senator Lidia Thorpe claimed the use of her quotes was ‘deceptive and underhanded’. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Martin Ollman
However, an investigation by RMIT University revealed that Stewart Lingiari was not Vincent Lingiari’s grandson, nor was he related in any way to the leader of the eight-year Wave Hill walk-off, which resulted in the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the basis to apply for native title claims and land rights in the NT.
Mr Lingiari also told the university’s FactLab the photo was snapped during a meeting in Canberra with politicians which was designed to unite Indigenous representatives, during which the group was asked for their thoughts on the voice.
He claimed they were then asked to recite sentences given to them, and that at that time he knew little about the upcoming referendum.
“If I would have [known] what this voice was, I wouldn’t have said this. This is what the cameraman told me to say,” Mr Lingiari continued.
A voice would enshrine a permanent Indigenous voice to parliament in the Constitution.
What is the Indigenous voice to parliament?‘Humiliated’: Scandal engulfs No campaign
It would see a federal advisory body formed with the purpose of recognising and representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and consulting with the government.
A referendum on the matter will be held later this year, requiring a majority of voters in a majority of states to vote Yes in order for it to succeed.