95% Of Referendum Committee Witnesses ‘Yes’ Activists

Written by:
1 May 2023
95% Of Referendum Committee Witnesses ‘Yes’ Activists - Featured image

“The stunning backflip by the referendum committee, which will now allow Tony Abbott to give evidence, underscores how the inquiry process has attempted to stack the deck for the ‘yes’ case,” said Daniel Wild, Deputy Executive Director of the Institute of Public Affairs.

IPA analysis of publicly available information reveals 95% of witnesses invited to appear before the Joint Select Committee on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Voice Referendum are ‘yes’ case activists. And fully 76% of Committee members are ‘yes’ supporters.

“The membership of the Committee, and the witnesses called, are weighted in a manner that is dramatically inconsistent with the views of the community on the Voice, which latest polling shows is almost evenly split,” said Mr Wild.

“Inviting Tony Abbott to speak does not correct the enormous imbalance deliberately created by the Albanese Government to prevent both sides of the argument being presented before the committee.”

IPA analysis of the witnesses invited to the three public hearings shows:

  • There have been 65 witnesses called (noting Professor Megan Davis has been called twice).
  • Of the 65, 94% (or 61) are in favour of the Voice in some form:
    • 80% are supporters of the government’s proposed voice.
    • 14% are in favour of the voice in principle, but do not completely endorse the current proposal.
  • Only three witnesses were against the Voice – Louise Clegg, Tony Abbott, and Warren Mundine.
  • Only one witness had an ambiguous view – Jack Wilkie-Jans.

The membership of the Committee itself is heavily tilted toward the ‘yes’ case. Of the committee’s 13 members:

  • 10 are in favour of the Voice (9 if you exclude the Greens member – although it can be safely assumed that the Greens will support the Government without change).
  • 3 are opposed to the Voice (Keith Wolahan Deputy Chair, Senator Kerrynne Liddle, and Pat Conaghan).

“This is further evidence that the government is doing everything in its power to stack the deck in favour of the yes vote, and is actively preventing Australians from receiving balanced information,” Mr Wild said.

“The analysis directly contradicts claims made by the Prime Minister that this process is designed to elicit information to improve the design of the Voice – it is in fact designed to provide political cover for the government. “Today’s episode reinforces the fact that Australians simply cannot have confidence that the debate on the Voice to Parliament referendum, which seeks to entrench racial division in our Constitution, will be free and fair,” Mr Wild said.

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