A pizza restaurant in Canada found itself the subject of conversation among Aussies this week after critics of the Indigenous Voice to parliament caught wind of its initiative supporting First Nations people.
An image of a Basic Goodness Pizzeria receipt featured in a nasty Google review, and before long, wound up in an Australian social media group largely populated by anti-Voice voters.
The receipt displays a voluntary one per cent fee, equal to 80 cents, added onto a customer’s bill with the words, “the land you are on”.
In a post to social media, it was speculated that something similar might be on the horizon for Australia – something that evoked fierce opposition from people intending to vote No in the referendum later this year.
“Apparently already in Canada some are being charged a 1 per cent Indigenous land tax. How interesting. Will this happen here?” a caption in a post of the receipt read.
Responses were a mix of rage and fear as respondents made a series of wild, incorrect presumptions.
“It will but won’t be for long, the Voice, I mean the great snatch and grab, is coming. Nobody’s safe,” one person responded.
Someone else said they feared initiatives like the one run by the restaurant would “take away your rights to any property ownership in this country”.
“If it goes through there is no turning back. The government is using the Voice to change our lawful constitution,” their comment read.
Another wrongly claimed, “yeah and this is how people will lose their properties”.
Others thought the voluntary fee was a “money grab” and claimed they wouldn’t be surprised if they saw the same thing on a receipt in Australia.
“Yep … that’s what they want here! Wake up everyone it’s a money grab and then what?” one person wrote.
The wild conspiracies were bluntly shut down by Yes23 Campaign Director Dean Parkin, who told news.com.au a money generating scheme could not be further from anyone’s mind.
“The only person talking about treaty right now is Peter Dutton, and it’s nothing but a scare campaign,” Mr Parkin said.
He asserted the current campaign was about addressing urgent issues by installing a Voice and nothing else.
“We want to make it very clear to people, that this referendum is about one thing and one thing only, and that is about getting an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to close the gap and help fix issues facing our communities now,” he said.
“It’s important to understand that treaty processes, as the Leader of the Opposition well understands, are decades-long processes and take a long time to finalise.
“We’ve got urgent issues facing Indigenous people now that can only be fixed through a Voice. That’s what this referendum is about and that’s why we’re encouraging Australians to vote Yes.”
Pay the Rent suggestion floated
Prominent Yes campaigner Thomas Mayo – a signatory of the Uluru Statement from the Heart – previously suggested non-Indigenous Aussies should “pay the rent” for living on Australian land.
In a series of unearthed tweets from 2020, Mr Mayo shared his vision of a new life if the Yes vote passed.
He said a “Blak rep body” enshrined in the Constitution – as called for in the Uluru Statement – would have the “resources and structure needed to unite on the priorities we collectively determine”.
“Reparations, land back, abolishing harmful colonial institutions, getting ALL our kids out of prisons & in to care, respect and integration of our laws and lore, speaking language, wages back – all the things we imagine when we demand,” he wrote.
In response to someone calling for non-Indigenous Australians to “pay rent”, Mr Mayo said the way to do this was through a constitutionally enshrined representative body “that the politicians cannot ignore”.
“Paying the rent must be more than your donations to struggling mob – which is important. It must be negotiated with the Commonwealth: reparations, land back etc,” he said.
The Pay The Rent initiative proposed a weekly payment from non-Indigenous homeowners to a “Sovereign Body of First Nations people” who would decide where the money was allocated without government input.
The body, which would be driven by the motto “saying sorry isn’t enough”, planned to turn the scheme into an organisation that encouraged all Australians to “honour the legacy of the Elders” by giving back to the land through monetary donations.
Mr Parkin, in response to Mr Mayo’s resurfaced “pay the rent” push, said “paying the rent” had “nothing to do with the Voice”.
“The Voice is absolutely and has always been about getting to the nub of those real issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in communities: health, education … young people … that’s what the Voice will be focused on,” he said in an interview with 2GB’s Ben Fordham.
Mr Parkin did not confirm or deny to news.com.au if the Yes23 considered the Voice to Parliament as a step towards a Pay The Rent scheme.