Voice to Parliament architect Thomas Mayo spent years insisting it would be the only way for the nation to determine ‘how and when we should celebrate Australia Day’.
But the prominent ‘Yes’ campaigner and signatory to the Uluru Statement from the Heart has sensationally backflipped, falling into step with a Labor government which remains adamant a date change would not be of interest to an advisory body.
Newly unearthed tweets written by Mr Mayo between 2018 and 2021 reveal he hoped the Voice would be ‘an appropriate body, with appropriate authority to discuss an appropriate date’ to celebrate Australia Day.
And in January 2021, he tweeted: ‘Celebrating 26 Jan is disgusting… prioritise the campaign for a First Nations Voice referendum. Twitter and Facebook warriors, and peaceful demonstrators without coordination… is changing f**k all.’
In a 2022 opinion piece, Mr Mayo even suggested the new date could be the day the Voice to Parliament referendum passes.
Mr Mayo has since told Daily Mail Australia this is a view he no longer supports, stating he does not ‘share that particular view about Australia Day anymore’.
‘These comments are from number of years ago, with many of them around the time of reporting about Indigenous deaths in custody,’ he said.
‘I support celebrating our nation, I’m a proud Australian and I believe our democracy is important, and it will be enhanced when Indigenous people are given a say on the matters that affect them such as health and education.’
Mr Mayo said he is now of the understanding a Voice will ‘focus on practical issues that matter to Indigenous communities such as better employment outcomes and housing’.
The sudden about-face comes amid criticism aimed toward Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney, who assured Parliament the Voice advisory body would have no interest in the date of Australia Day.
A prominent ‘Yes’ campaigner described his vision for life with a Voice to Parliament – detailing ambitions for reparations to Indigenous people, ‘rent’ being paid to live on Australian land and the abolishment of ‘harmful colonial institutions’
Mr Mayo has long advocated for a Voice to Parliament, insisting it would be the best way to shore up a date change
She said: ‘It won’t be giving advice on changing Australia Day. It will not be giving advice on all of the ridiculous things that that side has come up with.
Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald on Australia Day last year, Mr Mayo even suggested ‘the date of a successful Voice referendum’ could be considered as the new date to celebrate our nation.
‘The day Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are finally heard,’ he said in the opinion piece.
In January 2021, Mr Mayo tweeted: ‘The 26 Jan debate is useless without a Voice.’
Two years earlier in January 2019, Mr Mayo said: ‘There’s only one serious place to start: At the referendum ballot box voting ‘YES’ to a First Nations Voice enshrined in the rule book – the constitution.
‘Write to your MP on 26 Jan – demand that the #UluruStatement – VoiceTreatyTruth – is backed in parliament.’
Mr Mayo said in January 2021: ‘The 26 Jan debate is useless without a Voice’
Mayo has become one of the most prominent campaigners in the Voice after contributing to the creation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2017
Mr Mayo’s most thorough and direct assessment of the scope of a Voice to Parliament came in an opinion piece he wrote for the SMH on January 26, 2022.
He wrote: ‘The answer to the Australia Day debate – exactly how we finally decide to mature as a nation and stop celebrating genocide – is already with government.
‘A constitutionally enshrined Voice is the answer to the question of Australia’s identity – how we mature as a nation –and how we should celebrate it.
‘Guaranteeing us the ability to have the discussion with the Australian people, in a proper way, about when and how we should celebrate.
‘A future Australia Day could be on the date a successful Voice referendum – the day Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are finally heard.’
Daily Mail Australia has obtained a series of old tweets dating back to 2018 and published by Thomas Mayo, an architect of the Voice referendum question and signatory of the Uluru Statement of the Heart
Linda Burney has repeatedly avoided questions from the Opposition this week – Deputy Liberal Leader Sussan Ley, in particular – about the scope of the advisory body
This is just the latest in a series of tweets which have emerged from Thomas Mayo discussing the power of the Voice.
Mr Mayo described his vision for life after a Voice introduced – complete with reparations for Indigenous people, ‘rent’ being paid to live on Australian land and the abolishment of ‘harmful colonial institutions’.
This vision for a Voice to Parliament appears to directly contradict Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s hope for a ‘modest’ concession to assist the nation’s most vulnerable.
He listed ‘all the things we imagine when we demand’ a Voice, including ‘reparations, land back, abolishing harmful colonial institutions’.
Additionally, Mr Mayo said his sights were set on ‘getting ALL our kids out of prisons & in to care… integration of our laws & lore, speaking language, wages back’.
Mr Mayo said a ‘guaranteed representative body’ was ‘needed [to]… properly pursue the rent that is owed and an abolishment of systems that harm us’.
In 2020, Mr Mayo got into a heated online exchange with Independent Senator Lidia Thorpe – a vocal critic of the Voice to Parliament.
She has long argued a treaty is more important than constitutional recognition, denying the legality of the constitution and expressing concerns about the sovereignty of First Nations people if the referendum passes.
Mr Mayo told her a constitutional Voice will give Indigenous people a platform to ‘negotiate’ with the Commonwealth on their ‘obligations’.
‘Australians already will support a referendum to recognise our Voice,’ Mr Mayo said. ‘They are much less likely to support what we may claim in a treaty (reparations, land back, etc).
‘A constitutionally enshrined Voice is important to establish to use the truth to support treaty negotiations.’
Mr Mayo described the advisory body as a ‘vital step in the fight for justice’.
These tweets reveal Mr Mayo has been pushing for a Voice to Parliament with hopes it could be utilised down the track to negotiate a treaty, which would demand reparations and land being handed back to First Nations people
In March, Mr Mayo stood shoulder to shoulder with a tearful Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as the official wording of the referendum question was announced
The ‘Pay the Rent’ movement, supported by Mr Mayo, wants homeowners to voluntarily pay a percentage of their income to Aboriginal elders without any government oversight or intervention.
Meanwhile the Prime Minister said Australians will be afforded a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ to improve the lives of First Nations people between October and December.
‘Where’s the downside here?’ he asked. ‘What are people risking here?
‘From my perspective this is all upside.’
Mr Albanese said ‘the truth is for most people watching this it will have no impact of their lives’, but that it ‘might make things better for the most disadvantaged people in Australia’.
Mr Mayo said a ‘guaranteed representative body’ was ‘needed [to]… properly pursue the rent that is owed and an abolishment of systems that harm us’
Speaking at the Sydney Writers Festival to promote his new handbook to the Voice to Parliament, Mayo said he’s throwing ‘everything he has’ at this referendum
After years of doing things ‘for’ Aboriginal people, often with the best of intentions, the PM said a Voice to Parliament would allow Indigenous people to take the front seat on matters crucial to them.
There have been many concerns about what exactly this means. Critics of the Voice say there is not enough detail provided on just what matters the advisory body will have input in.
Attorney General Mark Dreyfus tried to clear up that confusion during the press conference.
He listed five key issues which will become the core focus of the advisory group: health, employment, education, housing and justice.
‘No harm can come from this referendum, only good,’ he said. ‘The parliament has done its job and now it’s up to the Australian people.’
What we know about the Voice to Parliament so far
Here, Daily Mail Australia looks at some of the key questions about the Voice so far, and how the government has tackled them:
What kind of advice can the Voice provide the Parliament and Government?
The Voice will advise on matters that directly relate to Indigenous people.
It will respond to requests made by the government, while also having the power to engage proactively on matters that they believe impact them.
The group will have its own resources to research matters and engage with communities at a grassroots level to ensure it is best reflecting their needs.
How will members of the Voice be chosen?
Members of the Voice will be appointed by Indigenous communities and will serve on the committee for a fixed period of time, yet to be determined.
The way the communities choose their representatives will be agreed upon by the local communities in tandem with the government as part of a ‘post referendum process’ to ensure cultural legitimacy.
Who can become a member of the committee?
Members of the Voice must be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
They will be chosen from across each state and territory and have balanced gender representation nationally.
The government has also guaranteed that young people will be included in the committee to ensure representation across the broad scope of the community.
Will the Voice be transparent?
The government states the Voice will be subject to scrutiny and reporting requirements to ensure it is held accountable and remains transparent.
Voice members will be held to standards of the National Anti-Corruption Commission and will be sanctioned or removed from the committee if there are any findings of misconduct.
Will the Voice have veto power?
Will the Voice work independently of other government bodies?
The committee must respect the work and role of existing organisations, the government says.
Will the Voice handle any funds?
The Voice will not directly manage any money or deliver any services to the community.
Its sole role will be in making representations about improving existing government programs and services, and advising on new ideas coming through the parties.