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'This is about love': Long speaks after 650km walk for the Voice



AFL legend and Indigenous activist Michael Long has called on Australians to act with love, not rage, as he spoke after completing a 650km walk from Melbourne to Canberra in support of the Voice to parliament.

Long, who in 2004 set out on the original Long Walk for the Stolen Generations, was greeted in Canberra by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney.

Long read out an open letter from himself, Nova Peris, Peter Maher, Declan O'Toole and Merryn Apma Daley to Albanese.

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In it, he called for Albanese and the Yes campaign to keep heart as support for the Voice appeared to slip.

In the 19 years since he had set out on a similar walk to obtain a meeting with then-prime minister John Howard, Long said, the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians had not closed.

"A Yes vote in the referendum will give Indigenous people the self-determination that we asked for 19 years ago," he said.

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Anthony Albanese

"We have 65,000 years of history and culture to share with this nation.

"That is the promise of the Voice."

Long said the 1788 lie of terra nullius proclaimed Indigenous people did not exist, allowing British colonists a legal fiction on which to base their claim to Australia.

And in 1901, he said, the Constitution did not recognise Indigenous Australians as the firstborn children of the country.

"When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish," he said.

"They will walk in two worlds. Their culture will be a gift to this country."

Long said there had been a lot of negativity around the Voice, including from Howard, who had previously urged No supporters to "maintain the rage" until voting day.

"But this isn't about rage. This is about love," he said.

"This is our opportunity as Australians. We must take it."

Albanese called Long, who won two AFL premierships during his career and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2021, a "great Australian" who cared about his people and his country.

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