It’s not an election: Pearson says angry voters should ‘take a bat to Albo’ – not the Voice

Noel Pearson is imploring Australians to drop political party loyalties and think of the nation’s future when they vote at the Indigenous voice referendum.

Oct 13, 2023, updated Oct 13, 2023
Indigenous "yes" vote advocate Noel Pearson. (Image: ABC News)

Indigenous "yes" vote advocate Noel Pearson. (Image: ABC News)


The prominent ‘yes’ campaigner says disgruntled voters should “take the bat to Anthony Albanese” at the next federal election rather than “slamming the door on the Aboriginal children”.

Millions of Australians will cast their votes on Saturday in a referendum on whether to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the constitution by enshrining an advisory body.

The ‘yes’ and ‘no’ movements will use Friday to make their final pitches, with the prime minister attending events in South Australia, Tasmania and NSW.

Mr Pearson couldn’t disguise the desperation in his voice on Friday morning, pleading with Australians to vote ‘yes’ with “the destiny of our children and grandchildren at stake here”.

“This is not a federal election – if you want to take the bat to Anthony Albanese, do it in two years’ time at the next federal poll,” he told Sky News.

“This is not about Liberal versus Labor, One Nation versus the Greens … this is about the future of our country (and) I urge Australian voters to suspend your tribal loyalties … and vote for the country.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton appeared to begin eulogising the proposal on Friday, declaring the prime minister had “written a cheque he couldn’t cash”.

Things are not looking great for the ‘yes’ campaign, with polls from YouGov and Roy Morgan released on Thursday suggesting ‘no’ would poll 56 and 54 per cent respectively.

“The PM made a catastrophic mistake not providing the detail to Australians – he’s instinctively won their hearts because Australians do want better outcomes for Indigenous Australia, but he hasn’t won their minds,” Mr Dutton told ABC Radio.

“I hope people will vote no … people roundly have rejected the proposal, and the PM wrote a cheque that he couldn’t cash.”

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Mr Albanese told an event in Adelaide there was “no cost to Australians showing kindness, thinking with their heart as well as their head, when they enter the polling booth tomorrow”.

“Kindness costs nothing. Thinking of others costs nothing,” he said.

The opposition leader wouldn’t address the question when asked if he would need to reconcile his own party after the referendum, with a string of Liberals queuing up to back ‘yes’ despite the party’s formal ‘no’ position.

They include former prime ministers, the country’s only current Liberal premier, current MPs, and former Liberal premiers and Indigenous Australians spokespeople.

One of them – former Indigenous Australians minister Ken Wyatt – said he was disappointed with Mr Dutton’s personal involvement in the ‘no’ campaign and said the opposition leader had never had a serious discussion with him about the voice.

“The arguments that he’s putting forward are not factual, they’re contentious in order to create fear and division,” Mr Wyatt told ABC Radio.

“Some of the tactics are copied 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’ … that was never the intent.”

Mr Albanese said he hoped voters would consider the “grassroots request” from Indigenous leaders, rather than the politics played during the campaign.

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