In a fiery exchange on A Current Affair, veteran journalist Ray Martin found himself at odds with fellow broadcaster Allison Langdon over comments he made during an impassioned speech in support of the Voice to Parliament.
Martin recently took centre stage in the ongoing debate surrounding the historic referendum when he took aim at those planning to vote “No” while talking to a crowd of “Yes” supporters recently.
“If you don’t know, find out what you don’t know,” he told those in attendance.
“What that excellent slogan is saying, is if you’re a dinosaur or a d**khead who can’t be bothered reading, then vote No.”
When footage of his speech started circulating online, Martin faced a significant wave of criticism from the public in response to his comments.
Martin appeared on the popular current affair program on Thursday, October 5 where he addressed the considerable backlash his comments had generated.
“Do you regret those comments, Ray?” Langdon began.
“No, I don’t,” Martin responed.
“This is a really important referendum. And I did not call No voters those words, I was talking about the slogan. ‘If you don’t know, vote No.’ That is an endorsement of ignorance. If you don’t know, find out, do not vote ignorantly. That is a dinosaur. It is such an important vote, it is so important, and you need to find out.”
Langdon countered that “a lot of families have a lot of stuff on the plate” with worries about power and food prices in addition to rising crime rates and that it is those people that Martin was targetting with his comments.
Martin was quick to stress that is not the case.
“This is not a difficult one — you do not need a dictionary to find out what it is about,” he said.
“It is about two things. It is about recognising First Australians in the Constitution, and do we give them a Voice … no veto, a Voice after 200 years of being told what to do. It is not about treaties or reimbursements. It is about nothing apart from these two things.”
When pressed further on whether he thought his comments were disrespectful Martin replied, “I’ll tell you what’s disrespectful — voting, and admitting your ignorance, and going ahead and voting on such an important issue as this.”
Langdon went on to share that she had spent considerable hours meeting with voters to get a feel for what they are thinking regarding the upcoming vote and that many are “trying to get their head around it and a lot of people do not understand it”.
“There are a lot of people who then feel they are being called a dinosaur or something worse because of that,” she added.
Martin remained steadfast in standing by what he said, telling Langdon that the language he used is “part of the Australian vernacular and you will hear it all the time on morning radio”.
Irrespective of their individual stances on the issue or how they feel about Martin’s comments, the Australian public is poised to cast their vote on whether or not the government should amend the constitution on October 14.
The Voice to Parliament is an elected body of First Nations representatives advising the government on the handling of Indigenous issues.
If voted through, The Voice would provide permanent representation and recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution.
The Voice will be in place to provide advice to the government and will not deliver services, manage government funding, or mediate between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.
It is the first proposal contained within the Uluru Statement from the Heart.