In relation to the ABC, Adler has said, “If you self-identify as a black lesbian, you’ll get the job.”
When asked about the comments, Adler said he would not apologise for them and said he could not recall the remarks about Thorpe.
“I am 100 per cent zero racism. I have Aboriginal friends, the most prominent being [leading No campaigner] Warren Mundine, and you’ll see photos of me with him.”
Advance is a right-wing campaigning group started in 2018 as a counterweight to activist group GetUp. It is led by Matthew Sheahan and claims it has a 250,000-strong supporter base fighting “woke politicians and elitist activist groups … taking Aussies for a ride with their radical agenda”.
Separate from the Liberal Party’s referendum campaign, it is the main referendum outfit on the No side.
The most senior members of the Liberal Party, including mainstream conservatives, are wary of the Coalition being dragged to the right by association with Advance.
Three sources, who asked to remain anonymous to speak freely, said Liberal officials had worked to ensure the party was not sharing its databases and resources with Advance as it campaigned against the Voice.
This masthead decided to publish Adler’s comments because of the active public debate about Australian race relations enlivened by the referendum. Advance, which publicly discloses few details about its operations, and its leading figures are also worthy of scrutiny given the important role the group has in running the No side.
Responding to Adler, Thorpe said the No campaign should be ashamed to work with groups such as Advance.
“I called it out early that there is a racist No campaign that is encouraging racists and hurting our people,” she said in a statement. “The government created this space for them and has failed in its responsibility to deal with the rise in racism.”
Grant declined to comment.
Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council chairman Mark Leibler said Adler had recently used anti-Semitic tropes to delegitimise support for the Voice expressed by several Jewish groups.
Leibler, who co-chaired the 2012 expert panel on constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians and the later council that culminated in the Uluru statement, added: “The notion that someone who leads a so-called ‘Jewish organisation’ could post such disgusting comments about anyone from another minority group, in this case the highly regarded journalist and author Stan Grant, is nothing short of grotesque.
“While the Jewish community is already well aware that the views of this fringe organisation and its president are utterly incompatible with Jewish values, this latest revelation should make it clear to the broader Australian community that Adler is simply an unrepresentative extremist.”
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