Yes launch vs the Dutton gaffe

Even the Murdoch media had to notice the nationwide launch of the real Yes campaign as the huge national grassroots campaign was launched around the country to mark the start of NAIDOC Week.

Our family was at the Cairns launch in the Cairns Esplanade Park which was attended by several hundred people and featured not only speeches but all the festival events – face painting for kids for instance – you would expect as well as free Yes 23 T-shirt and Yes badges giveaways.

The launch coincided with an ill-advised Dutton Sky News interview where he once again attacked companies such as BHP, Wesfarmers and Rio Tinto for donating $2 million each to the Yes campaign while claiming that many business executives told him privately they were opposed to constitutional recognition. He said the companies lacked ‘significant backbone’ and were trying to court popularity in the Twittersphere.

It’s doubtful if any of them will out themselves and you can bet, despite the unsubtle hint from Dutton, that they won’t be directors or senior executives of the companies donating the big money to the Yes campaign.

The companies didn’t respond directly but Rio Tinto director, Ben Wyatt, said: “It’s striking to note that the corporates that have the most direct day-to-day engagement with Aboriginal Australia have taken a position in support of the Yes vote.”

What wasn’t said was that, while a Liberal Party Leader savaging business leaders and accusing them of being hypocritical and actually opposed to the Voice, might appeal to a Sky audience it might seem either unhinged or truly politically stupid to others.

Indeed, having been at the Cairns launch, and then later in the day reading the Dutton comments, was like moving from hearing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy to attending a Screaming Lord Sutch performance or watching one of his unsuccessful Official Monster Raving Loony Party campaign launches.

Image credit: Photographers_for_Yes23

It has been clear for months that the Australian media have been obsessed with conflict and their standard operating procedures are incapable of capturing what is going on in the overall Voice campaign.

Admittedly, their conflict obsession has probably had much to do with opinion poll softening. But will this continue? Or will it reverse as neighbours start talking to neighbours; grandchildren encourage their grandparents to vote Yes; religious groups appeal to their faithful; sporting heroes urge Yes votes; trade unions mobilise their members; and thousands of ordinary Australians door knock and deliver flyers and information.

…..and which ordinary voting Australians would rather be at a party with John Howard, Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott than out in Sun with joyous others just like those in Cairns last weekend.

Image credit: Photographers_for_Yes23