Doorstop Interview – Parliament House, Canberra – Tuesday 12 September 2023


SUBJECTS: Voice referendum; Karen Andrews; Qantas 

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: What’s revealed in the papers today, shows that it’s now a deliberate strategy of the no campaign to flat out lie. If the no campaign are so confident that what they’re saying is right, why do they have to lie to the Australian people? This is a sign of just how low the no campaign is willing to go. And I call on Peter Dutton today to condemn this. If he doesn’t, then he is complicit in this lie. Happy to take questions. 

JOURNALIST: So what exactly is the lie? Can you elaborate on what you see as the lie in this campaign? 

CLARE: The lie that the Voice is about compensation. The Voice is an advisory committee. The Voice is about listening. The Voice is about making sure we make better decisions and get better results. 

I think Australians are smart. I think they’ll see through this BS. The same people who told us during Mabo that you would lose your backyard, that your Hills Hoist would get ripped up and taken out, are the same people saying this. That was BS, and so is this. The same thing happened during the apology. Remember when Kevin Rudd made the apology to the stolen generations and Peter Dutton said that it would cost Australia $10 billion? That was BS. And so is this. 

JOURNALIST: Can the government do anything to try and counter this misinformation? 

CLARE: We fight fear with facts. We fight the lie with facts. And Australian people are good and honest and fair. Aussies believe in fairness. We put fairness as an important part of our country, more than any other country in the world. We talk about it in the pub, we fight about it in the Parliament. It’s in the title of our national anthem. Fairness. What’s fair. And I think most Aussies, when they look at this in a couple of weeks’ time, will say that it’s a right and fair thing that we recognise Indigenous Australians in our Constitution. 

It’s just a fact that Indigenous Australians were here before Captain Cook arrived 230 odd years ago. They’ve been here for 60,000 years. And it’s about time that we recognise our first Australians in our first document. 

Australians are practical people. We know that there are a lot of Indigenous Australians doing it tough. We want to make sure our taxpayers’ money is used on the things that are going to work. They’re not working at the moment. We’ve got to bust this myth that Canberra politicians know best. I think the evidence over the last few decades, proves that is wrong. Decades of good intentions, billions of dollars spent. Aussies know that there are Indigenous Australians doing it tough and they want their money used on things that are going to work. 

Forget the lies we see today being espoused by the no campaign. The good news here is this is not the idea of Canberra politicians. The Voice is the idea of Indigenous Australians, not in Canberra, from other parts of the country, saying to us, listen to us, because if you listen to us, then you’ll make better decisions and we will get better results. And I think that’s what Aussies desperately want. 

JOURNALIST: Do you think that this kind of misinformation is contributing to the slide in support? 

CLARE: This campaign is tough and it doesn’t help when people lie. And we are seeing evidence of that today on the front pages of the paper. We’ve got to fight those lies with facts. We’ve got to fight that fear with facts. And that’s what we’ll do. 

But just also remind people of the boy who cried wolf. The same people who said you’d lose your backyard, the same people who said that the apology would cost $10 billion are the same people trying to stoke fear and division through lies right now. And Aussies are smart enough to see through these lies. 

JOURNALIST: What would you say to an Australian who’s got the message about reparations or compensation and has either been told that by campaign on the phone or reading it somewhere else? What’s your message to that individual? Is it just total rubbish? Is it never going to happen? 

CLARE: It is rubbish. And Aussies know that it’s rubbish. It was rubbish in the 1990s, it was rubbish 15 years ago, it’s rubbish now. I go back to the point I made a moment ago. Aussies are smart, they’re fair and they’re practical. Aussies know when someone’s lying to them. And they can see this for what it is, which is a flat out lie. They’re also fair. They want to make sure, that Indigenous Australians have been there for 60,000 years, are recognised in our Constitution. It’s not fair that that isn’t the case at the moment. It’s just a fact that Indigenous Australians have been here for 60,000 years. We don’t even recognise that in our Constitution. And it puts us apart from other countries that were colonies. We can fix that in a couple of weeks’ time. 

Not every generation of Australians get a chance to make history. In a couple of weeks’ time, this generation of Australians, gets a chance to put our history in our Constitution. And not just that, do something practical and real that will help people that are doing it tough. 

JOURNALIST: Another no campaign story. On the weekend, the Institute of Public Affairs was accused of trying to indoctrinate school children with materials and advising them how to vote no. The ABC did this story. What do you make of I guess, you know, a conservative think tank trying to get into classrooms to get that message? 

CLARE: I had a quick look at that. From what I what I saw of it, it didn’t discern any particular bias there. I’m all for debate. I’m all for conversation. I’m all for getting people engaged and understanding what we’re about to do. Australians are about to vote in a referendum. Unless you’re sort of my age or a bit younger, you’ve never voted in a referendum before. And this is important. A chance to make this country an even better and a fairer country than it is today. That’s what this referendum is all about. I’m not going to point the finger at that. What I am concerned about today, though, is when people are being told to pick up the phone and lie to Australians. And that’s what we see evidence of on the front pages of the paper today. I just repeat the point I made a moment ago, if the no campaign are so confident that what they’re saying to Australians is right, why do they have to lie? 

JOURNALIST: Can I also ask you about Karen Andrews? She has a story this morning saying that colleagues would breathe down her neck when she was sitting in Parliament. What do you think of that? And what does the Liberal Party need to do? 

CLARE: I’ll leave what the Liberal Party needs to do to the Liberal Party. Everybody in this building has a right to be safe and feel safe. 

JOURNALIST: Minister, were Alan Joyce and the Prime Minister too close? 

CLARE: No.There was a silly question asked by Peter Dutton yesterday about whether he was at the lodge or whether it was Kirribilli. The answer to that was no. Then they said, “well, was he on a plane?” Turns out he was on a plane with everybody from the Business Council of Australia from Woolworths to Coles, to every major company in Australia, so that was put to rest, that sort of rubbish argument that Peter has been running over the last few weeks.