Outspoken left-wing political commentator Paul Bongiorno has ridiculed Warren Mundine after the top No campaigner to the Voice to Parliament revealed he had attempted to take his own life after receiving a barrage of abuse.
Mr Mundine, one of the leading organisers of the No campaign with Country Liberal Party senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, said he has copped constant racial abuse from supporters of the Yes campaign for expressing his opinion on the referendum.
The former politician claimed it has driven him to make attempts to take his own life twice. ‘I tried to commit suicide twice, it does have an affect on you,’ Mr Mundine said earlier this week.
But former Channel 10 TV correspondent and ABC Radio National contributor Paul Bongiorno has slammed Mr Mundine over the admission in a series of tweets.
Mr Bongiorno claimed Mr Mundine was using his mental health struggles as a political weapon to denigrate supporters of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
Outspoken veteran journalist Paul Bongiorno (pictured) has criticised No campaigner and former politician Warren Mundine after he admitted he attempted to take his own life
‘This is transparent, blatant politics. Hardly worth a second of sympathy. Only the gullible and opportunistic racists will fall for it,’ he wrote.
In another tweet, following criticism, the veteran journalist said: ‘OK I got it wrong. Warren deserves a lot of sympathy for playing blatant politics with his mental health.’
Mr Bongiorno is a columnist for The Saturday Paper and The New Daily and often appears on Radio National. He was formerly the national affairs editor at Ten News.
It is not the first time Mr Bongiorno has been critical of Mr Mundine on Twitter.
In 2018 while he was a political commentator on Radio National, he slammed Sky News Australia for having too many conservative commentators while defending the number of left-leaning voices on the ABC.
Sky News Australia is heavily stacked with conservative commentators on its late night programs who often criticise the public broadcaster for being too ‘left-wing’ and not abiding by its statutory duty of being impartial.
Mr Bongiorno wrote: ‘As many ‘righties’ on Dky (sic) after dark panels…and that includes ‘Uncle Tom’ lefties craving relevance.’
‘Uncle Tom’ is a derogatory term originating from the US that refers to a black person doing the bidding of white people.
Mr Mundine (pictured), one of the leading organisers of the No campaign, has copped constant racial abuse for expressing his opinion on the referendum
Mr Bongiorno claimed the Indigenous leader was using his mental health struggles as a political weapon to denigrate supporters of the Voice
Mr Mundine, who was a regular contributor on Sky News and ALP president at the time, believed the insult was directed at him.
‘Racial slurs are unacceptable and if you look at my Twitter feed and Facebook, I’m just pilloried every day with racial comments…and now this coming from a person who is supposed to be a reputable, senior, respected journalist makes it even worse,’ he told The Australian at the time.
‘He should know better; it’s a disgrace he’s able to get away with one of these comments – he is now a troll.’
Mr Mundine also criticised the ABC for not acting in response to the racial slur.
‘If anybody would stand up against racist rhetoric, you would think it’s the ABC,’ he said.
The ABC distanced itself from Mr Bongiorno’s comment by claiming he was ‘not an ABC employee’.
Mr Bongiorno later apologised for the tweet, saying, ‘My tweet was in response to an attack on the ABC for only having ‘lefty’ panels’.
‘I made the point that there is plenty of evidence to show Sky has ‘rightie’ panels or acceptable ‘lefties’, which was my intention using the term ‘Uncle Tom.’ ‘
Mr Mundine says he worries about ‘what could happen’ to Senator Price (both pictured), being the other key No campaigner for the Voice to Parliament
Mr Mundine is currently seeking professional help for the racist abuse he has been subjected to.
He claimed the most common accusation he gets is that his stance is all about money or that he is in the ‘pocket of the mining industry’.
Among the tweets on Mr Mudine’s Twitter feed are accusations he is ‘selling out his ancestors’ and a demand he go ‘back to his cave’.
He said he worries about ‘what could happen’ to Senator Price, being the other key No campaigner for the Voice to Parliament.
He claimed they had both been accused of being ‘race traders’ and have been regularly targeted with abhorrent insults.
It comes after renowned journalist Stan Grant, who supports the Voice, stood down as host of ABC flagship show Q+A after receiving ‘the most evil, vile, hateful abuse’, which culminated in death threats.
Recent polling still shows dwindling support for the proposed body, with a national reserve poll for Nine newspapers revealing a 42 per cent No vote, 36 per cent Yes vote and 22 per cent undecided.
The referendum for the Voice to Parliament will be held sometime between Octover and December this year.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.