Tense audio has revealed what really happened in the moments before an Indigenous man was told to “sit down and shut up” at a Voice forum this week.

The Yes23 team hosted an event on Wednesday in Bundaberg, Queensland, but organisers attracted criticism on Thursday when attendee, Grant, claimed in an interview with 2GB’s Ben Fordham that he, after asking some questions, was asked to be quiet.

Grant accused leading advocate for the Voice, Thomas Mayo, of getting “quite angry” before a fellow Yes23 campaigner asked him to “sit down and shut up”.

“I was absolutely disgusted,” Grant said, arguing he felt he was unfairly cut short.

A member of Yes23 has since released audio to news.com.au, revealing what really happened.

Grant held the crowd’s attention for about 12 minutes – a considerable time for a crowd of 70 for an event that ran for 90 minutes.

He was, according to Yes23, able to ask four questions, all of which were answered respectfully.

He spoke on his belief that a referendum was not necessary given there was already Aboriginal representation in parliament.

“At the moment we have 11 Indigenous members in parliament, to me that kind of sounds like a Voice,” he argued.

“This is bordering on ridiculous to be honest with you. In my spirit, I believe this is going to divide the community in a way that will go down in history.”

As he continued to share his prediction for the referendum result, the moderator informed him that time was running short and the forum needed to continue.

He requested “one more question” but was asked to “please sit down” and told “you’ve had enough”.

He then accused the group of “defrauding the people”, which received the response: “that’s so wrong”.

A spokesperson for the Yes23 campaign shut down the version of events provided by Grant to Fordham’s radio program.

“Yes23 encourages all Australians to attend community events to learn more about the referendum, regardless of whether they intend to vote Yes, No or are still making up their mind,” they told news.com.au.

“Mr Appo’s appearance at the forum in Bundaberg on Wednesday night was welcome, however we do not accept the version of events that have been put out there. Mr Appo was given the opportunity to make a statement and ask multiple questions to the panel members who happily answered his questions.

“The reality with these community forums is that moderators have to respectfully ensure that all attendees are given the opportunity to have their say. This requires respectful and appropriate moderation at all times.”

Fair Australia spokeswoman Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, a prominent No campaigner, feared the exchange could represent what was ahead for Aboriginal Australians.

“Is this how the divisive Voice will work for Aboriginal Australians who disagree, to silence their voices, to order them to shut up?” she told news.com.au.

“If this is an accurate account, it is an alarming insight into some of the people behind this divisive campaign. The fact is that not all Aboriginal people think the same and there can be no one voice that speaks for us all.

“The Voice to parliament is just a vehicle for activists to bully Australians, including Aboriginal Australians, into a treaty, which means reparations, compensation and ‘paying the rent’.

“I just urge Thomas Mayo and the ‘yes’ campaign to respect the fact that not all Indigenous Australians support their plan to divide the nation by race.”

Keep the conversation going, email brooke.rolfe@news.com.au


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By Rahul

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