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No campaign leader Nyunggai Warren Mundine has revealed he pushed two people out of his referendum campaign over allegedly racist comments, as he distanced himself from under-fire No figure David Adler.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said on Thursday that Opposition Leader Peter Dutton should disassociate himself from Adler after this masthead reported he repeatedly questioned senator Lidia Thorpe’s Aboriginal heritage and suggested Indigenous journalist Stan Grant artificially darkened his skin.
David Adler’s comments about Stan Grant (left) and Lidia Thorpe have been condemned.Credit: Oscar Colman, Facebook, Alex Ellinghausen
Mundine said Adler’s comments were “bizarre” and, without referring directly to Adler, said questioning an Indigenous person’s cultural heritage constituted a “disgusting … racist attack”.
Speaking on ABC’s Radio National on Tuesday morning, Mundine said Adler was not involved in his No outfit, called Recognise a Better Way. Adler is involved in a separate body called Advance, on whose advisory board he sits alongside figures including former prime minister Tony Abbott.
Dreyfus, one of Australia’s most senior Jewish MPs, claimed Adler’s statements were disgraceful and said the Australian Jewish Association, run by Adler, was unrepresentative of the Jewish community.
“Mr Dutton needs to start dissociating himself from this kind of material,” Dreyfus said. “The No campaign needs to stop using disinformation and dissociate itself from the kind of hateful, revolting material that we’ve seen from people like Mr David Adler.”
Although Mundine distanced himself from Adler the pair appear in photographs together that were taken in recent months and Adler cited his relationship with Mundine as proof of his positive attitude towards Indigenous Australians.
As he responded to questions about Adler, Mundine disclosed he had let go two figures in his own No outfit due to offensive commentary. He declined to provide details on each case, other than to say the people were not prominent campaigners and one made anti-Semitic comments.
“I’ve actually kicked several people off our campaign regarding their comments and I intend to keep on doing that,” the former Labor Party national president turned Liberal candidate said.
“I don’t appreciate racist comments … We’ve got to out these people.”
NSW Liberal MP Matt Kean, who is involved in the Yes campaign, said it was incumbent on Mundine to reveal all the details about the sackings.
“Warren Mundine just admitted to [ABC host Patricia Karvelas] that the No campaign has secretly sacked two campaign workers due to their racist views,” Kean posted on social media. “The No campaign can’t cover up this racism scandal. They must release the details, and explain why they sacked these two workers”.
Mundine defended Grant and said he was a “brother” whom he had known since university. Grant’s Indigenous heritage was not in question, Mundine stressed.
The anti-Voice activist accused Indigenous leader Noel Pearson of “one of the worst racial slurs an Aboriginal people can receive” for previously suggesting Mundine and fellow No campaigner Jacinta Price were puppets for white conservatives.
This masthead decided to publish Adler’s comments because of the active public debate about Australian race relations enlivened by the referendum. Advance, which publicly discloses few details about its operations, and its leading figures are also worthy of scrutiny given the important role the group has in running the No side.
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