Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (file image)
Anthony Albanese is the subject of the claim made by leading 'no' vote groups. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS

Videos concoct PM’s silence on key voice question

Jacob Shteyman August 21, 2023

Anthony Albanese was lost for words when asked whether the voice to parliament will have primacy over the government.


Misleading. The interview with the prime minister was edited to cut out his response.

Edited versions of a TV interview with Anthony Albanese are being used to suggest the prime minister was lost for words when asked about the powers of the proposed Indigenous voice.

This is misleading. A campaign video from Fair Australia and a similar video from lobby group Advance were selectively edited to suggest Mr Albanese didn’t have a response to a key question.

The full version of the interview on Network 10’s The Project reveals Mr Albanese answered immediately and clearly.

A Facebook reel (archived here) from leading ‘no’ vote campaign group Fair Australia is captioned: “Albo might be lost for words, but voice architects Teela Reid and Thomas Mayo are happy to tell you all about it.”

Fair Australia is headed by Country Liberal Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and backed by the lobby group Advance.

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price (file image)
 Coalition MP Jacinta Nampijinpa Price is leading the ‘no’ vote campaign. 

The video starts with The Project host Hamish MacDonald asking the prime minister: “If the voice disagrees with the government of the day on something, who has primacy there?”

As MacDonald finishes his question, the video – which up to that point shows the pair in split screen – cuts to a close-up of a silent Mr Albanese.

The vision is slowed down, shown in black and white and lingers on the prime minister.

It then shows footage of voice advocates Teela Reid and Thomas Mayo purportedly talking about how much power the advisory body would have over parliament and government.

Advance posted a similar video (archived here) to its Facebook page. It features the same question from MacDonald, followed by the same alleged silence from Mr Albanese.

It then includes what appears to be a follow-up question from The Project co-host Sam Taunton and further silence from the prime minister.

However, Taunton’s question actually featured nearly four minutes earlier in the interview. It was also answered by Mr Albanese.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (file image)
 Anthony Albanese has repeatedly stated the voice will only be advisory. 

The Advance video is overlaid with the Simon and Garfunkel song The Sound of Silence.

But the original interview reveals Mr Albanese’s silence was concocted in both videos.

In fact, the prime minister doesn’t even wait for MacDonald to finish speaking before answering the question of who has primacy.

“The government,” he responds.

“The government, absolutely. There is no right of veto of this.

“Parliament’s structure remains in place – is not affected by any of this. And that’s been made very clear. All this is, is an advisory group.”

Fair Australia told AAP FactCheck: “This video obviously conveys our accurate contention that the prime minister has been unable to explain the details of the divisive voice in this and every other interview.”

Advance told AAP FactCheck that its video is “obviously satire drawn from a well-known meme”, and reiterated Fair Australia’s response.

Peter Dutton
 Peter Dutton has criticised the prime minister for not providing enough detail on the voice. 

There has been criticism of the prime minister over what some have said is a lack of detail about the voice and how it will function, see here, here and here.

Mr Albanese has countered this by arguing the voice referendum is about enshrining the body in the constitution and parliament will decide, and be able to amend, its operation, function, membership and more.

The prime minister and legal experts have said the voice’s powers are firmly set by the proposed constitutional amendment, which was approved by federal parliament in June.

It is misleading to claim Mr Albanese has been lost for words on whether the government or the voice would have primacy.

Mr Albanese has publicly stated multiple times (see here, here and here) the voice to parliament would not have primacy.

As far back as a year ago, Mr Albanese insisted the government would be able to reject advice from the voice.

“It’s very clear that the government remains sovereign,” he told reporters in August 2022.

“The voice has an advisory role only.

“Look at the comments that have been made by constitutional lawyers, former members of the High Court who make it very clear that the voice is simply an advisory body.

“It doesn’t change any of the parliamentary processes which are there.”

The Verdict

The claim Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was lost for words when asked whether the voice to parliament would have primacy over the government is misleading.

The interview has been edited to make it appear as if Mr Albanese could not answer the question. The full video reveals his response was immediate and unequivocal.

Misleading ÔÇô The claim is accurate in parts but information has also been presented incorrectly, out of context or omitted.

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