Anthony Albanese has laughed off claims he misled Australians when he said the Voice to parliament was not about a treaty after a picture of him wearing a “Voice, Treaty, Truth” T-shirt resurfaced.
The Prime Minister made the statement last week in a tense interview on 2GB’s Ben Fordham in which the pair traded barbs as the radio host grilled him about the upcoming referendum.
But an old video of Mr Albanese dancing at a Midnight Oil concert and wearing the T-shirt last October prompted former prime minister Tony Abbott to unleash on the leader.
“I suppose this is the problem when you turn yourself into a billboard,” Mr Abbott said during an interview with Fordham on Monday.
“And quite apart from anything the Prime Minister chose to wear at a concert, I go back to that initial statement he made as prime minister. The new government is committed to the Uluru statement from the Heart in full – in other words, voice, treaty, truth in full.
“It was, as I said, a moment of amnesia for the Prime Minister to deny here in this chair last week that the Voice had anything to do with treaty. It has everything to do with treaty.
“The whole point of having a voice, if the activists are to be believed, is to start the treaty-making process, and government ministers have said as much.”
When asked about the controversy on Shoalhaven’s Power FM on Tuesday morning, Mr Albanese said the whole thing gave him a laugh.
“Who knew someone would wear a Midnight Oil T-shirt at a Midnight Oil concert? I did see that and have a laugh. Frankly, it shows the desperation of people,” the Labor leader chuckled.
He urged the No camp to run a “legitimate, sensible campaign” and listen to people in the local community.
“On a big scale, we need to listen to Indigenous Australians in order to get better outcomes to close the gap, and that’s what it’s about,” he continued.
“Every day I see more furphies put up of why people shouldn’t support this sensible proposal … All the scare campaigns don’t really have substance to them.
“The Yes case is positive. It’s about hope. The No camp is all about fear really and raising issues that are designed to sow doubt.”
Mr Albanese committed to the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart in full, including a Makaratta Commission to oversee “treaty” and “truth-telling” with Indigenous Australians.
Asked in May if the Voice would lead to treaty and truth-telling, Mr Albanese said: “They are very much a part of the next phase, if you like.”