Video and audio of her remarks made it clear Langton was speaking about campaigners rather than voters.
“Every time the No case raises one of their arguments, if you start pulling it apart, you get down to base racism. I’m sorry to say it, but that’s where it lands – or just sheer stupidity,” she said in an audio obtained by this masthead and a separate video of the forum.
Langton responded to the claims made in parliament by saying her remarks in Bunbury came after a listener at the forum asked if all Aboriginal people would get compensation if the Yes vote succeeded.
She said her answer was that this was untrue and that Indigenous people could only get compensation if a court ruled they had a fair claim, a similar situation to any Australian.
“The media reporting is a very deliberate tactic to make me look like a racist when I’m not,” Langton said. “I am not a racist, and I don’t believe that the majority of Australians are racist. I do believe that the No campaigners are using racist tactics.
“I did not say what The Australian and the Bunbury Herald are reporting,” Langton said. She added that she was getting legal advice.
Questions about truth dominated parliament on Tuesday when Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus called Dutton the “leader of a misinformation and disinformation campaign” on the Voice, venting frustration over the Coalition’s support for the No case as it increases its lead in public polls.
Dutton responded with a claim that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese would “divide our country right down the middle” at the referendum on October 14 when most voters rejected the government call to enshrine the Voice in the Constitution.
The vigorous debate highlighted Labor’s attempt to brand Dutton a liar and convince voters he would remain a negative figure in national affairs whatever the outcome on the Voice, while the opposition leader claimed Albanese had bungled the referendum and could not be trusted.
The Coalition challenged the government on the implications of the Voice by questioning Burney about whether the group would clear the way for reparation payments, a change some First Australians support.
Burney said “the Voice to parliament, this referendum, is not about reparations” and echoed previous statements from Albanese that rejected reparations, after Education Minister Jason Clare said on Tuesday morning it was “rubbish” to claim the Voice would lead to compensation payments.
Dutton stood soon afterwards to suggest that Burney had made a statement she did not make.
“Can the minister confirm her advice in her previous answer that the parliament can override the provisions of the Constitution?” he asked.
Burney had not made that assertion. Dreyfus then accused Dutton of spreading “legal nonsense” about the Voice.
“That is what we have heard repeatedly from this leader of the opposition, who will stop at nothing in his campaign of disinformation and misinformation,” Dreyfus said.
“He has misled the people of Australia repeatedly throughout this campaign. And he should be
ashamed of himself.”