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Singer Kamahl has performed a second backflip on the Indigenous Voice, revealing he will vote No just a day after Anthony Albanese coined the term “Kamahl-mentum” and labelled his support for the referendum a “very big deal”.
The 88-year-old declared his initial opposition to the proposed advisory body on September 10, suggesting it represented a form of “apartheid”.
But late last week, after reading Indigenous history and speaking to Yes campaigners, he announced he would support the Voice, urging Australians to “learn the facts” and reject the “bullshit” arguments of the No campaign.
In his latest about-face on Sunday evening, the former Hey Hey It’s Saturday guest said he had learnt “the facts” in more detail over the past two days and settled on a No vote.
He argued Indigenous people “already have a voice” and the advisory body would divide the nation by race – both key arguments of the No camp.
Kamahl claimed repeatedly in the interview that $40 billion was spent on Indigenous programs each year, an unsubstantiated figure that was questioned by hosts.
Surprised hosts of Channel 10’s The Project quizzed him on his reversal, with co-host Sarah Harris asking: “So hang on, Kamahl: you were originally saying No, you then went to Yes, so are you back on No?”
The entertainer responded: “Yeah, because No is an informed decision. The first No was an uninformed decision. And the Yes was a semi-informed decision. And now 100 percent, I am well and truly committed to saying No.”
“If you do the Voice this way, it becomes a racist issue, you’re putting a whole race of people separate to the rest of the country.”
Acknowledging the government needed to do more to improve Indigenous livelihoods, Kamahl said he did not believe the Voice was the appropriate mechanism.
“I don’t think you really need a Voice – they already have a voice,” he said.
On Saturday, the prime minister said he grew up watching Kamahl and took heart from his Yes stance.
“He’s someone who came out and said No and went away, spoke to people, read what it was about, read the question and decided that he would come out and declare his support for Yes,” Albanese said. “We have now a new term we’ve coined today: ‘Kamahl-mentum’.”
Asked about Albanese’s words, Kamahl said: “I’m sorry, I apologise… Whatever I said before now – wipe it out. But start all over again now and forgive me.”
The Malaysian-born man of Indian descent promised he would not change his mind a third time in the lead-up to the October 14 referendum, which polling suggests will fail.
As recently as Saturday morning, Kamahl posted on social media re-stating the Yes position he announced late last week, saying a Yes vote was “by far” the best thing for the country.
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