Veteran journalist Ray Martin has doubled down on “dinosaurs and d**kheads” voting No, clashing repeatedly with A Current Affair host Ally Langdon and saying he does not regret the comments.
Martin appeared on the Nine program on Thursday night to respond to the backlash to his speech at a Yes event in Marrickville on September 28, a clip of which went viral earlier this week.
Langdon, who repeatedly cut off Martin during the explosive interview, cited the neo-Nazi flag-burning video threat to Indigenous Senator Lidia Thorpe, and suggested the Voice to Parliament debate “needs to calm down and get back to being respectful”.
“Do you regret those comments, Ray?” she asked
“No, I don’t,” Martin said.
“This is a really important referendum. And I did not call No voters those words, I was talking about the slogan. ‘If you don’t know, vote No.’ That is an endorsement of ignorance. If you don’t know, find out, do not vote ignorantly. That is a dinosaur. It is such an important vote, it is so important, and you need to find out.”
“A lot of families have a lot of stuff on the plate,” Langdon said. “They are worried about power and food prices and crime, and many of them are the people that you’re calling names.”
Martin insisted “no I am not”.
“This is not a difficult one — you do not need a dictionary to find out what it is about,” he said.
“It is about two things. It is about recognising First Australians in the Constitution, and do we give them a Voice … no veto, a Voice after 200 years of being told what to do. It is not about treaties or reimbursements. It is about nothing apart from these two things.”
Langdon said Martin was a “respected journalist for many years” and knew “language is important, and the language used in that speech was inflammatory”.
“I do not think it is and I stick by the language,” Martin said. “I would say it again. It was at Marrickville Hall when I was speaking, I was not speaking at the Catholic Church up at the lectern. I was not talking to Women’s Weekly.”
Asked again if he thought his language was disrespectful, Martin said, “I’ll tell you what’s disrespectful — voting, and admitting your ignorance, and going ahead and voting on such an important issue as this.”
Langdon told Martin she spent hours on Thursday talking to voters “trying to get their head around it and a lot of people do not understand it”. “There are a lot of people who then feel they are being called a dinosaur or something worse because of that,” she said.
Martin said the language he used was “part of the Australian vernacular and you will hear it all the time on morning radio”.
He added the referendum was “not about politics”.
“But it is very political now,” Langdon said.
“Both sides have now made it political, especially the No vote,” Martin hit back.
“I believe it is like women’s rights or gay rights — it is the decent thing to do. It is about Aboriginal rights. There is no politics in rights for women or gay people or Aboriginal people. To give Aboriginal people, who suffer most from homelessness and suicide and other issues, it is a festering sore in Australian society and we have to change it. If you want to slogan, fix it. When it’s broken, fix it.”
Martin joined Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as a speaker at the event last Thursday, where about 500 supporters were delivered speeches and performances from the Hoodoo Gurus and Dog Trumpet.
The PM was also joined on stage at the packed theatre by Yes23 campaign co-chair Rachel Perkins and Australian of the Year Local Hero Amar Singh.
The night before the event, more than 1000 people turned out to a No campaign rally in Brisbane, headed up by Warren Mundine and Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price.
Senator Price told the cheering crowd the country should never have been subjected to “such a divisive referendum”.
“Our Prime Minister should never have put us on this path in the first place,” she said. “For some time, we as a nation have come under attack from those who want to believe that we’re made up of two kinds of people, that we are either oppressed, or we oppressors.
“We’re told we’re a terrible, racist country … these are absolute lies.”
The crowd cheered as Senator Price said the referendum represented a “line in the sand” where people wouldn’t be subject to “gaslighting or manipulation”.
— with Brooke Rolfe