Thomas Mayo speaks during an Indigenous Voice panel event in July
Thomas Mayo speaks during an Indigenous voice panel event in July. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS

Audio sets record straight on voice meeting stoush

Mikele Syron August 30, 2023

Voice advocate Thomas Mayo told an Indigenous man to “sit down and shut up” at a ‘yes’ campaign event.


False. The man was told to “sit down” by an Aboriginal elder at the Bundaberg meeting.

Voice advocate Thomas Mayo has become a target for misinformation, with claims he told an Indigenous man to “sit down and shut up” at a public meeting.

It is alleged the Uluru Statement signatory attempted to silence the Aboriginal man for asking questions at a community forum in Bundaberg hosted by the ‘yes’ campaign.

The claim is false. While Mr Mayo was one of the speakers at the Indigenous voice meeting, it was an elder from the audience who told the man to sit down.

He was not told to “shut up” as is claimed.

Grant Appo
 The claim has spread on social media in recent weeks. 

There are numerous claims alleging Mr Mayo, who is also a co-author of The Voice to Parliament Handbook, ordered the man to “sit down and shut up” – see here, here, here, here, here and here.

“Thomas Mayo is a grub,” one post read. “He’s just lost a Voice. Vote No to Mayo and the Constitution.”

The incident at the July 26 meeting first came to light when the man in question, Grant Appo, called in to the Ben Fordham Show on 2GB on July 27.

He claimed he was told to “sit down and shut up” after having asked a series of questions.

However, neither Mr Appo nor Mr Fordham suggested it was Mr Mayo who said “sit down and shut up”.

In fact, the next day Mr Fordham followed up on the story after his team tracked down an audio recording of the meeting courtesy of Bundaberg NewsMail reporter James Taylor.

Ben Fordham
 Ben Fordham revisited the story after his team got hold of an audio recording of the meeting. 

He played the audio on his show, which clearly features a female voice telling Mr Appo to “sit down”. At no point is he told to “shut up”.

The audio also makes clear it is not Mr Mayo who tells the man to “sit down”.

After being told to “sit down”, Mr Appo responds, pleading to be able to ask “one more question”. The female then tells him: “No you’ve had enough.”

Mr Taylor reported the female voice was that of a local Indigenous elder called Aunty Jill.

Mr Mayo appeared at the meeting alongside Jade Appo-Ritchie. They presented their case for the voice before opening the floor to questions. 

The Verdict

The claim voice advocate Thomas Mayo told an Indigenous man to “sit down and shut up” at a ‘yes’ campaign event is false.

The man was told to sit down by an Indigenous elder in the audience, not by Mr Mayo.

There is no evidence of him being told to shut up.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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