Posts mislead on Dutton’s voice voting record

Blair Simpson-Wise September 8, 2023
WHAT WAS CLAIMED

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has voted consistently for a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous voice.

OUR VERDICT

False. Mr Dutton voted for the referendum to proceed, but has never supported the proposed constitutionally enshrined voice.

A screenshot from a website which tracks how MPs vote in federal parliament is being used as proof Opposition Leader Peter Dutton supports the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to parliament. 

The claim is false. A representative from the website told AAP FactCheck “human error” led to Mr Dutton’s voting record being inaccurately represented.

The Opposition leader has voted in favour of holding the voice referendum, but has opposed the constitutionally enshrined voice proposal.

The screenshot from the They Vote For You website has been used in social media posts (archived here), as seen here, here, here, and here.

It states: “Peter Dutton voted consistently for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice in parliament.”

A screenshot from the Facebook post.
 The posts are using erroneous information from a non-government website. 

They Vote for You – a website built by the OpenAustralia Foundation, an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit group – provides records of federal politicians’ parliamentary voting history.

It groups related divisions, or parliamentary votes, to indicate how individuals have voted on issues such as privatising government-owned assets or reducing the corporate tax rate.

A representative of the website said divisions that should have been connected to the issue of whether to have a referendum on the voice were instead “erroneously connected to an existing policy on whether to have the voice at all”.

“When it was pointed out that Mr Dutton was now showing up as a supporter of the voice, the error was corrected,” the representative told AAP FactCheck.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton (file image)
 Peter Dutton voted for the referendum to be held. 

They Vote for You has now put the existing policy in “draft mode” and notified its followers that two new policies have replaced it to better represent voting records. The website has also updated followers on Facebook, Instagram and Mastodon.

The two new policies are “A referendum on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice” and “Implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full“.

With regards to the first policy, Mr Dutton is categorised as having voted “consistently for”.

This is based on various divisions relating to the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice) 2023 bill. The bill helped set up the referendum by confirming the wording of the proposed constitutional change to be put to the public. 

Although he has opposed the proposal for a constitutionally enshrined voice, Mr Dutton has said he would not deny the public having its say at a referendum. 

The second policy refers to a series of motions in the Senate, so does not include Mr Dutton, who sits in the House of Representatives.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton (file image)
 The opposition leader has voted for the referendum bill. 

Mr Dutton has never publicly backed the constitutionally enshrined voice. He has been critical of the proposal as far back as 2019, when the coalition was in government, describing it as “a third chamber”.

In September 2022, he said he wanted to “remain open-spirited and generous-minded”, but wanted more details on how it might work.

Following a party room meeting in April 2023, Mr Dutton announced the Liberal Party’s official position would be to oppose the voice.

The opposition leader has pledged to hold a second referendum on Indigenous recognition – but not a voice – if the current referendum fails.

The Verdict

The claim Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has voted consistently for a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous voice is false.

The claim is based on his supposed parliamentary voting as recorded by website They Vote for You. A website representative told AAP FactCheck that human error resulted in Mr Dutton’s voting being inaccurately recorded and it had rectified the erroneous information.

Mr Dutton voted in favour of holding the referendum, but has opposed the voice proposal.

False – The claim is inaccurate. 

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