‘Mean country’: Stan Grant on Voice debate

Australian journalist, former ABC television presenter and Wiradjuri man Stan Grant has told an Indigenous matters podcast he kept referring to Australia as “mean” during a recent overseas trip.

Mr Grant is a guest on a special two-part episode of the Listnr podcast Blak Matters, with both parts released on just days before Australians head to the polls to decide the fate of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum.

He told the podcast hosts, Hit Network presenter Michael “MC” Christian and Wiradjuri/Weilwan woman and land rights lawyer Teela Reid, about his recent trip to Europe, working with the Constructive Institute in Denmark.

“When you’re overseas, you’re almost an ambassador for your own country, you have to explain your country to other people,” Mr Grant said.

“And it really saddened me that the word I kept coming back to was ‘mean,’ and I think we have become an increasingly mean country. I think there’s an absence of kindness in our country.

“You hear it in things like ‘if you don’t know, vote no.’ That’s a mean thing to say.”

Mr Grant spoke about there being too much “noise” around the Voice debate, criticising the poor quality of debate around the referendum.

“This is also the first referendum of the 24/7 news cycle and social media and that’s elevated and amplified the noise,” Mr Grant said.

“For a lot of people, when you add uncomfortable questions of history and race, they’re barbecue stoppers.

“If you want to stop the party, talk about racism, or talk about history. No one wants to go there.

“And we have a referendum that lands right at that point of history and race and politics amplified by 24/7 news media, and a toxic social media weaponised by 24/7 news media coverage.”

Mr Grant left his post as host of ABC current affairs panel show Q+A earlier this year following torrents of racial abuse and allegations of ABC management failing to support him.

The Voice referendum will be held on Saturday, although early polling has been open across the country since October 3.

Both episodes of Blak Matters with Stan Grant can be found here.

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