Leading Yes campaigner Thomas Mayo has addressed vicious rumours about his heritage and his family as he gears up for the final three weeks of campaigning for the Voice to Parliament.
The one-time wharfie has become a household name ahead of the referendum, working closely with Anthony Albanese’s government in order to help promote a Yes vote.
And he’s faced his fair share of criticism after comments from his past resurfaced in which he called for reparations, ‘rent’ to be paid to First Nations people and the date of Australia Day to be changed. (He later told Daily Mail Australia his opinion had changed as the referendum debate had progressed.)
Critics have repeatedly raised questions about Mayo’s heritage. In an interview with the Betoota Advocate, Mayo described the insinuations as ‘shocking’.
‘It’s been quite shocking to see photos of your parents being shared around, saying we’re not genuinely Indigenous,’ he said.
Thomas Mayo (pictured with Melanie Mayo) has addressed vicious rumours about his heritage and his family as he gears up for a final three weeks of campaigning for the Voice to Parliament
The one-time wharfie has become a household name ahead of the referendum, working closely with the government to help promote a Yes vote
Mayo’s father is from the Torres Strait Islands. His great, great grandfather arrived in the Torres Strait from the Philippines, and married a local woman.
His grandparents on his mother’s side are English, Irish and Polish.
‘I wasn’t from a family of activists or anything,’ he said. When the interviewer noted he’d been at the centre of ‘multiple conspiracies’, Mayo said the rumours he’d heard were ‘really crazy’.
‘I’ve never been a member of the Communist party,’ he added. ‘You can mash up all these videos and make people look scary.’
The references to the Communist party come after Mayo spoke on a forum of Search Foundation, an organisation which was once linked to the former Communist Party of Australia.
Mayo has been touring Australia campaigning for the Yes vote, and said he’s looking forward to October 15, when he can finally take a break.
‘I’ve been working hard on this for six years,’ he said.
Critics have repeatedly raised questions about Mayo’s heritage. Pictured: Mayo with loved ones
Mayo’s father is from the Torres Strait Islands. His great, great grandfather arrived in the Torres Strait from the Philippines, and married a local woman
While consecutive polls have seen support for the Voice dropping, Mayo, the government and the official Yes23 campaign is still hopeful it can secure a win on October 14.
His message to the public is: ‘don’t be taken for a mug.
‘It’s an advisory committee. They are trying to pull the wool over your eyes.’
Just over a third of Australians – 36 per cent – say they will vote Yes to the Voice to Parliament, according to the Newspoll survey of 1,239 voters for The Australian.
It marks a two-point fall in the past three weeks – the lowest level yet for the beleaguered Yes campaign.
Meanwhile, opposition to the historic referendum has risen slightly to 56 per cent with less than three weeks until polling day.
Mayo said the Coalition – which is supporting the No vote – is doing nothing more than ‘looking for a cheap win’.
‘What a hill to die on,’ he said.
One of the biggest criticisms of the Voice to Parliament is that there is ‘not enough detail’ for the Australian public.
This message has become one of the most successful of the No campaign, and is the leading reason for Australians voting No according to the Redbridge poll.
But Mayo said that, too, is disingenuous. He said the detail of the Voice is available and there is no need for it to be in the referendum question itself.
He described the constitution as ‘the size of a passport’ and said there are no other examples in which all the detail is written into it.
‘It doesn’t contain the mechanics,’ he said. ‘It just has top level things. It gives parliament the power to collect taxes, it doesn’t say how much tax. It gives flexibility.
‘It just says there should be elections, it doesn’t say how many people are in Parliament.’
Mayo was a signatory to the Uluru Statement from the Heart