Extraordinary moment No campaigner Jane Hume asks Labor’s Clare O’Neil if she thinks she’s ‘racist’ on Sunrise – after Marcia Langton said the anti-Voice case is based on racism, stupidity
Senior politicians have clashed angrily on live TV in a fiery confrontation over the Voice to Parliament, with a Liberal senator asking a Labor minister: ‘Am I racist?’
Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil blew up at Liberal Senator Jane Hume in the wake of Voice architect Marcia Langton’s controversial comments that arguments put by the No campaign were based on racism and stupidity.
Ms O’Neil was challenged about the remarks by host Natalie Barr on Seven’s Sunrise on Wednesday and insisted the Indigenous professor’s comments had been taken out of context.
But as the minister tried to move on to discuss measures to close the gap with Indigenous communities, Ms Hume interrupted her.
‘Clare, this is the Yes campaign calling anyone who votes No racist,’ Ms Hume said.
Ms O’Neil replied: ‘Jane, Jane, let me talk about this essential issue for our country…’
But Ms Hume demanded: ‘Am I racist, Clare? Is that what you’re saying?’
The row between Senator Jane Hume and home affairs minister Clare O’Neil blew up after Professor Marcia Langton said the No case was based on racism and stupidity.
The Labor minister snapped back: ‘Jane, that is a disgraceful thing to say. That is a disgraceful thing to say.
‘You should be debating the referendum, because that is not true.’
Ms Hume persisted though, as she shook her head and rolled her eyes at the minister’s replies.
‘No, it’s not,’ she said. ‘That’s what Marcia Langton said. Are the millions of Australian voting No racist, Clare?
‘This is outrageous. The Prime Minister needs to condemn it. Condemn the comments.’
Ms O’Neil admitted: ‘I get it, I get it – I get that.
‘But if you don’t mind I’d like to say a sentence or two here. Let me just be really clear.
‘The No campaign wants to talk about anything other than what the referendum is actually about, and that is two simple things.
‘Recognition of our first nations history and consultation with First Nations people about issues that affect them.
‘It’s a simple, generous ask and I asked Australians to vote yes on October 14.’
Barr brought the row to an end – but warned that weeks of conflict still remained ahead.
‘I think everyone’s had their say,’ she said, before adding: ‘We have four more weeks until the referendum.’
Prof Langton again denied calling No voters racist and stupid in an interview on Wednesday to try to clarify her comments.
‘I don’t believe most Australians are racists and I’m certainly not a racist,’ the academic told ABC radio.
‘But what I said was that the claims made by the No campaign were based in racism and stupidity and that is a completely different kind of statement.’