Silencing the Voice: the fossil-fuelled Atlas Network’s Campaign against Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australia

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Jeremy Walker


Australians will soon vote in a referendum to recognise Indigenous Australia in its 1901 Constitution and establish a First Nations Voice to Parliament. A year ago, polling suggested the referendum proposal of the 2017 National Constitutional Convention and its Uluru Statement from the Heart enjoyed 60% support. Since lead anti-Voice campaign organisation Advance Australia began its media offensive, the Yes vote has declined to 40%. This article argues the No campaign is being conducted on behalf of fossil-fuel corporations and their allies, whose efforts to mislead the public on life-and-death matters reach back over half a century. Coordinated across the Australian branches of the little-known Atlas Network, a global infrastructure of 500+ ‘think-tanks’ including the Centre for Independent Studies, the Institute of Public Affairs and LibertyWorks, I demonstrate that the No campaign shares the aims and methods of the longstanding Atlas disinformation campaign against climate policy. Opposition to long-overdue constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians can be traced to fears the Voice might strengthen the capacity of Indigenous communities and Australia’s parliamentary democracy to rein in the polluting industries driving us toward climate and ecological collapse.

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