Warren Mundine says vile personal attacks aimed at him as a leading campaigner against Indigenous Voice in Parliament prompted him to try for his own life as he expressed concern for fellow No advocate Jacinta Price.
Mr Mundine said the abuse was constant and often racialised, with terms such as ‘coconut’ and ‘Uncle Tom’ used as the debate around the voice became more hostile.
A ‘coconut’ is a racist term to describe ‘black on the outside but white on the inside’ an ‘Uncle Tom’ is another derogatory term in the US that refers to a person of color who does the bidding of whites.
‘I tried to kill myself twice, it takes its toll on you,’ Mr Mundine revealed to Sky News.
As a result he sought professional help to deal with the vitriol.
Warren Mundine says the horrific personal attack led him to try to take his own life
‘You only have to look at my Twitter,’ he says.
‘I’ve been told everything under the sun and 90 per cent of them, I don’t even know what they mean. I had to look it up in the dictionary.
‘But it’s very divisive. It has been very divided among the tribal communities. It’s very divisive in mainstream Australia, and I don’t see it well.’
He says the most common complaints he gets are that his position is about money or that he is ‘in the pocket of the mining industry’.
Tweets on Mr Mudin’s Twitter feed included accusations that he was ‘selling out his ancestors’ and one claim he had ‘returned to his cave’.
Mr Mundine said he was concerned about ‘what might happen’ to Senator Jacinta Price, perhaps the other most prominent campaigner against VOICE.
‘That’s why I’m very careful about what I do and how I talk to him,’ he said.
He said both of them were accused of being ‘traders of the nation’ and gave an example which he said was circulated on social media.
“They had a picture of Prince William and Kate at their wedding and they cut the head off and put mine and Jacinta’s on it and they had the king and queen of Coconut Island,” she said.
Mr Mundine expressed concern for leading Voice No advocate Jacinta Price who she said was the subject of vile online abuse.
Mr Mundine also pointed to the example of Stan Grant, who stood as host of the ABC flagship show Q+A and said he had been the subject of ‘the worst, heinous, despicable abuse’, culminating in death threats.
Leading Yes campaign advocates have also been the subject of alleged racial abuse.
A full-page ad in the Australian Financial Review depicting leading Yes campaigner Thomas May as a boy in ripped shorts asking for money from a Wesfarmer’s chair and Yes23 campaign director Michael Chaney featured prominently.
One strong critic was NSW Liberal MP and former state treasurer Matt Keane who tweeted: ‘Thomas Mayo’s racist trope in today’s full page AFR ad has no place in Australian politics.’
‘It’s a throwback to the Jim Crow era of the Deep South. The No campaign has a right to be heard but can do much better,’ he wrote.
Senator Lydia Thorpe, who opposed Indigenous Voice in Parliament, said she was given extra protection because of serious death threats.
In response, conservative activist group Advance Australia accused Mr Keane of playing the ‘race card’.
An Advance Australia spokeswoman directly addressed Mr Kane’s tweet: ‘There it is again, yes the campaign elite are playing the race card straight from the deck.
Indigenous senator Lydia Thorpe, who opposes VOICE because she believes it does not go far enough to right the wrongs of colonization, revealed on Channel 10 on Thursday that she has been given extra protection because of death threats.
There are a lot of people who don’t want me in that role or don’t want me in this role who don’t want me in Parliament. That doesn’t make me want to live,’ said Senator Thorpe.
‘For the past few weeks I have been feeling very insecure. I continue to feel insecure until things are resolved and it’s ***.
Polling votes showed support for sliding and if the same numbers were reflected in the referendum, it would not pass.
Mr. Mundine is touring the country with No Case for Voice.
‘I think it’s going to be a lot stronger than they say,’ he argued.
‘They say it’s just an advisory group, they’re just going to advise the government. Why is it necessary in the constitution?’
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.