What was claimed
Stewart Lingiari, the grandson of the late land rights activist Vincent Lingiari, is voting No in the Voice referendum.
False. Stewart Lingiari is not Vincent Lingiari’s grandson. He is a Millwarparra man from the Northern Territory whose photo has been used to support the No campaign, despite the fact that he says he is unsure of what the Voice to Parliament referendum is about.
By Eiddwen Jeffery
Leading anti-Voice campaigner Nyunggai Warren Mundine has used social media to post a photo of an Indigenous man named Stewart Lingiari, wrongly claiming he is the grandson of the famous land rights activist Vincent Lingiari, and that he is opposed to the Voice referendum.
A quote alongside the photo reads: “I don’t want you to look at me differently. That’s why I am voting no.”
In the post, Mr Mundine writes: “Vincent Lingiari’s grandson is voting No!”
But the man pictured is not the grandson of the late Vincent Lingiari, and he says he is unsure about what a Voice to Parliament means.
Vincent Lingiari was an Aboriginal rights activist of the Gurindji people. He led the Wave Hill walk-off, an eight-year protest which led to the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the basis to apply for native title claims and land rights in the Northern Territory.
Shadow minister for Indigenous Australians, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, who is opposed to a Voice to Parliament, posted the same photo and quote on her Twitter account with the caption, “Vincent Lingiari’s grandson thinks otherwise….#VoteNOAustralia”.
The photo and caption are also published on the anti-Voice website Fair Australia, which refers to Mr Lingiari simply as “Stewart”, but does not identify him as Vincent Lingiari’s grandson.
Fair Australia has the backing of Senator Price and has recently merged with Recognise a Better Way, a campaign group led by Mr Mundine that is pushing for a No vote. The joint campaign will be called Australians for Unity.
Mr Lingiari told RMIT FactLab that he is a Millwarparra man from Ngukurr in the Northern Territory, and while he shares the same surname as Vincent Lingiari, he is not related to him.
“I’m nowhere near Vincent Lingiari, I’m not his grandson,” Mr Lingiari said in a phone interview with FactLab.
He said his photo had been taken in Canberra in March during a meeting with federal politicians which was arranged to bring together Aboriginal community representatives.
He travelled to Canberra as part of a traditional owners group comprising nine representatives from the Millwarparra Aboriginal Corporation in the Northern Territory, for an opportunity to discuss issues relating to his hometown of Ngukurr, he said
After the meeting with politicians including Senator Price and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, as well as Mr Mundine, the group was asked for its opinion on the referendum, he said.
He, along with other members of the group, discussed the Voice referendum and were then asked to recite sentences provided to them, while being photographed and videoed, he said.
“I was told to say that word there: ‘I don’t want you to look at me differently. That’s why I am voting no’,” Mr Lingiari said.
He said he was unaware of the planned referendum for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament before the meeting in Canberra and remained unsure of what it was about.
He was also unaware that his photo had been published on the Fair Australia website until he was contacted by FactLab.
“If I would have [known] what this Voice was, I wouldn’t have said this. This is what the cameraman told me to say,” Mr Lingiari told FactLab.
“I don't want this photo to exist. I went there to sort a problem out. I didn’t go there to put myself on camera,” he said.
FactLab spoke to another member of the group, Sammy Ponto, who said it was a “surprise” that the Voice was discussed at the meeting in Canberra. “They sort of snookered us,” he said.
He said members of the group were asked to read sentences on a piece of paper, and have their photos taken. “They sort of, like, wrote that down and told us to sort of like read it and speak it,” he said.
But unlike Mr Lingiari, Mr Ponto said he was aware of the Voice referendum before he travelled to Canberra and he supported the No campaign. “They [No-campaigners] want to make one voice in Australia,” he said. “We did have something to say. We’re Aboriginal, but we’re also Australian citizens. Anyone living in Australia, they [are] all Australian citizens, we should respect them and help them [with] what they’re doing.”
Mr Ponto’s photo is also published on the Fair Australia website, which describes itself as a “grassroots movement of Australians pledged to vote NO”. The website states that Fair Australia is “powered” by the conservative lobby group Advance Australia.
False. Stewart Lingiari is not Vincent Lingiari’s grandson. He is a Millwarparra man from the Northern Territory whose photo has been used to support the No campaign, despite the fact that he says he is unsure of what the Voice to Parliament referendum is about. He was unaware his photo had been used in support of the No campaign on the Fair Australia website and in social media posts by Mr Mundine and Senator Price.
Acknowledgement of Country
RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.