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No lies: Uluru dialogue calls for voice, treaty, truth

Rudi Maxwell -

Aboriginal legal experts are pleading with Australians to stop the spread of misinformation about the upcoming voice to parliament referendum.

Academics Megan Davis and Eddie Synot said they had spent too long responding to queries about the 'no' campaign's "hysterical" claim of a secret 26-page document that is the actual Uluru Statement from the Heart.

They were speaking on behalf of the Uluru Dialogue, a non-profit foundation dedicated to advancing the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The Dialogue on Friday cited numerous findings of misinformation by independent AAP FactCheck in relation to the voice.

The Uluru Statement of the Heart is a 2017 document from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that calls for reform.

"The Uluru Statement from the Heart is one page," Prof Davis said on Friday.

"It is 439 words."

She said the Uluru Statement was supported by other documents contained in a Referendum Council report that reflected and documented preceding regional dialogues and consultations.

Prof Davis referenced Sky News host Peta Credlin, who said on her program on August 3 that the Uluru Statement from the Heart was a 26-page document and cited a freedom of information disclosure from the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

"The fact that a single 'no' advocate has used her privileged media platform to confuse the mainstream media and our political leaders so dramatically about the voice, tells you everything you need to know about the way Indigenous issues are treated in this country," Prof Davis said.

"When we speak, we are ignored.

"When we work harder to reassure, we are ignored.

"When we encourage all Australians to inform themselves by reading deeply, that is distorted and weaponised by a 'no' campaign that has no alternative and is intent on misinformation and division."

Lawyer and researcher Mr Synot challenged former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott, a prominent 'no' campaigner, on his record on Indigenous affairs while in government.

Mr Synot argued that despite styling himself as the 'prime minister for Indigenous affairs', Mr Abbott's government gutted $500 million from First Nations community programs in its 2014 budget.

"It is an insult to all Australian people that someone who failed so drastically continues to be given media space and keynote speeches to lecture on Indigenous affairs and our history," he said.

"In short, our communities were gutted and ignored, Closing the Gap (between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians) went backward - and Abbott now believes he can lecture the Australian people."

Mr Abbott told the Institute of Public Affairs this week that a successful referendum on the voice would "entrench victimhood" in the Constitution.

"The past isn't perfect, but our responsibility is to make the present and the future as good as we humanly can. This generation of migrants and the descendants of migrants are not oppressors. This generation of Indigenous people are not victims."

AAP FactCheck editor Ben James said they investigate claims from all sides of the debate and a wide variety of stakeholders.

"This includes trending posts on social media where it is often difficult to establish the original author, or any links to either formal campaign," he said.

"The guiding principle is to provide our readers with the most accurate information ahead of this year's referendum."

AAP Factcheck has published about 60 checks on the voice.

The referendum is due to be held in the final quarter of this year.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart can be found here.

Rudi Maxwell - AAP


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