‘Will I live as long as other Australians?’ Yes launches last chance $20 million ad blitz
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An Indigenous boy’s wishes for a “country that hears my voice” will be used to win over voters in a $20 million, month-long blitz to pull off a miracle referendum win in a campaign bogged down in fresh racism claims from Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney.
Yes23 has been holding back its advertising spending to bankroll a new campaign, produced by top agency Clemenger and launching on Saturday across TV, digital, radio and print platforms.
“Will I grow up in a country that hears my voice?” asks the boy in the new promotion.
“Will I live as long as other Australians? Will I get to go to a good school? Will I be able to learn my people’s language? Will I be seen beyond the sports field, recognised by the decision makers of our country?”
“Yes makes it possible.”
The ad rollout coincides with a series of major city walks that will be attended by senior government ministers and Indigenous leaders. The Yes campaign and Labor federal secretary Paul Erickson believe there are about 5 million voters up for grabs who will only begin to focus on the ballot during the four-week campaign.
Yes sources, speaking anonymously to detail confidential plans, said the campaign may roll out one last ad later in the campaign, focused on the consequences of voting No.
A spokesman for No campaign group Fair Australia said the Yes camp would “keep up their free Qantas flights, big corporate sponsorships, and celebrity endorsements but it won’t change the fact that Australians don’t want to be divided by race”.
A live microphone picked up a candid conversation before a press conference between Burney and NSW Premier Chris Minns on Friday, in which Burney called out treatment she had been receiving.
The Wiradjuri woman, who spoke recently of her health issues, faced a barrage of questions during the past fortnight of parliamentary sittings. She evaded and failed to directly answer several of them, prompting Opposition Leader Peter Dutton to demand she stop reading off a script and answer Voice queries.
Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney and NSW Premier Chris Minns.Credit: James Brickwood
“We’ve just finished two weeks of gruelling parliament. To me, it’s just unbelievably racist and bullying,” Burney said to Minns. “The way they have treated me is appalling.”
It is not clear if Burney was referring to the Coalition or to abuse from the public. In a written statement following the emergence of the conversation with Minns, Burney said her office had been inundated with racist abuse.
“Racism takes its toll. But I will never allow racism to weaken or diminish my resolve to see Australia embrace constitutional recognition through a Voice,” she said.
Burney said she was disgusted by leading No campaigner Jacinta Nampijinpa Price’s claim that Aboriginal people were not victims and faced zero ongoing disadvantage as a result of colonisation.
Price was asked about her colonisation comments at the launch of the No campaign in Victoria on Friday night, repeating her belief that Indigenous Australians should not succumb to a victim mentality.
“We have never had race as an issue at the forefront of discourse in our nation as much as we have during the lead up to this referendum. That is wrong. That is division and the prime minister has to take responsibility,” she said.
Dutton stopped short of fully embracing Price’s contentious argument in an appearance on Nine’s Today show, though he said she had experience in Indigenous communities and should not be ignored.
“Do we just say that her view doesn’t count? That she doesn’t know what she’s talking about? She’s still got kids who live in Alice Springs,” Dutton said.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton in question time on Tuesday. Credit: Alex Ellinghausen
“Her husband lives in Alice Springs. She’s immersed in the community there. She knows the reality of life and she’s saying we shouldn’t sugarcoat what’s going on.”
Price has repeatedly declined to endorse Dutton’s plan, floated in a Sky News interview on September 3, to hold a second referendum on symbolic constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians without a Voice.
Dutton added further confusion about the second referendum policy when asked by Today if he should “just park it”.
“Look, nobody wants a second referendum,” he said, before adding: “What we’ve said is that we want reconciliation. I don’t believe people, if they vote No on October 14, are voting against helping Indigenous Australians.”
“The question should just be recognition. I think you’d get 80 per cent support, and that’s the policy that we took to the last election and it’s a policy that we’ll take to the next election.”
with Ashleigh McMillan
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