‘It’s an insult’: PM Anthony Albanese slammed over press conference stunt

Aug 29, 2022

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has come under fire from fellow politicians and members of the public following a bizarre appearance from former US basketball player Shaquille O‘Neal during a press conference on the proposed referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

O’Neal made a brief appearance during the press conference on Saturday, August 27, where he took no questions from the media and made no mention of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

“I’m here in your country, whatever you need from me, just let me know,” he told reporters.

“Shaq loves Australia.”

Although the appearance was designed as an effort to garner support and attention for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum, it had quite the opposite effect with many left scratching their heads as to the relevance of O’Neal’s appearance.

 

Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe was more scathing in her assessment taking to Twitter to label the publicity stunt “ill-advised”.

“Thought a Black man coming to our Country would be more respectful to First Nations people than interfering in what is a controversial topic, dividing our people,” she wrote.

“Ill-advised, hope you take the time to set it right @SHAQ.

“We don’t come to your country & interfere in your business.”

Thorpe later tweeted that “Labor met with an American celebrity before speaking with First Nations politicians from this Country”.

“Not once has Labor reached out to me to discuss the Voice. Still waiting, Labor,” she said.

Labor Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek defended Albanese’s decision, claiming “O‘Neal brings a lot of style, power and attention to an important issue”.

“It’s a sign the referendum for a constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander is something that is important for Australians and something the world will be observing as well,” she said.

“It’s not surprising that the world is looking at Australia at this important moment in our history and saying it would be great if First Nations Australians were able to speak up about the policies that affect their lives with a constitutionally enshrined voice.”

Albanese has claimed O’Neal requested a meeting to gain a better understanding of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament proposal.

The proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament would see an elected body of First Nations representatives advising the government on the handling of Indigenous issues.

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