10 January 2023

Michael Bradley: “Dutton makes Tony Abbott look subtle, so it isn’t difficult to pick up what he’s doing, or whose idea he’s copying. The play is an attempted repeat of John Howard’s successful three-card trick that brought down the 1999 republic referendum: 1) demand the detail; 2) when it’s provided, demand more detail; 3) claim there’s now too much detail and advocate a ‘No’ vote on the basis that, if you don’t understand it, you’re being conned. … Dutton will defend his perfectly reasonable queries all the way to referendum day, and point to any reticence about answering them as an indicator of something sneaky or even malign. … The proof of Dutton’s disingenuousness is in the detail of his supposedly open-handed approach. One of the details he demands will suffice: will the Voice body be empowered to make decisions? No, one million times, no. Nobody has ever said, suggested or implied that it will or should be anything more than advisory in construct and effect. It is a big lie, fully known to those who peddle it, to keep pretending otherwise. Dutton is propagating the lie. He has no intention of engaging sincerely with the Voice. He will, sooner or later, drop the mask and tell us to vote no. And we will know why.”