Australia’s far-right and conspiracy communities are spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and hate speech in opposition to the Voice to Parliament, as false claims about the referendum spread widely online.
These baseless theories repurpose common claims that conspiracy boogeymen like the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, multinational corporations and prominent Australian Jewish citizens are hatching a plot to usurp Australian sovereignty using the Voice.
One viral piece of conspiracy content is a Substack post that weaves in 15-minute cities, climate denialism and fears of “transhumanism”, and claims that the Voice to Parliament will be used to forcibly obtain Australian farmland.
“The Voice is truly about creating a ‘Blak facade’ in which the Globalist Parasites hope to execute the allocation of privately owned land out of the hands of the ‘Whites,’ and into their exclusive control,” it reads.
The post has thousands of engagements and more than a thousand shares on Facebook, according to social media analysis tool CrowdTangle, as well as hundreds of shares across various Telegram conspiracy and fringe communities.
Other versions of this conspiracy theory, propagated by figures such as Australian neo-Nazi Thomas Sewell and QAnon believer Josephine Cashman, claim that the supposed land grab is about taking control of Australia’s lithium mines or instituting a shadowy one-world government.
Long-time Indigenous constitutional recognition activist and businessman Mark Leibler and former Liberal Party spokesperson for Indigenous affairs Julian Leeser are frequently identified by conspiracy theorists as the “masterminds” behind the Voice. Leibler joins figures like World Economic Forum chair Klaus Schwab and businessman George Soros as Jewish figures who’ve become the subject of thinly veiled versions of the centuries-old anti-Semitic “Jewish puppetmaster” conspiracy theory.
Many of these outlandish claims harken back to older conspiracy theories about Indigenous land claims. A 1982 book Red Over Black: Behind Aboriginal Land Rights, and its subsequent film adaptation, written by a former Australian communist who claims that land claims are “communist use of Aboriginal issues to advance own ends”, are being shared among online conspiracy communities.
Conspiracy-influenced Indigenous sovereign citizen figures and groups are also spreading misinformation about the Voice to Parliament. While claiming that the Australian government is illegitimate, online posts that raise unfounded concerns that a Voice would undermine claims of Indigenous sovereignty have been widely shared.
Online communities and accounts have emerged specifically to spread hate speech and misinformation about the Voice, some with tens of thousands of followers. These accounts spread debunked ideas about the Voice introducing a tax on non-Indigenous Australians and changing Australia Day, while also sharing racist, anti-vaccine and election fraud claims.
Earlier this year, both the government and the eSafety commissioner urged tech companies to act on misinformation and hate speech in the lead-up to the referendum. Voice campaigns have also raised concerns about poor-quality information and misinformation being published in the mainstream media. The Australian Electoral Commission has launched a public education campaign about the referendum process.