/ 16 October 2023

Australia says yeah, nah…

Image source: AAP
Image source: AAP

The Squiz 

Most of the votes have been counted, and the proposal to amend the Constitution to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament has been solidly rejected. Not only did circa 60% of Aussies record a ‘No’ vote, but there was no state where a majority of residents supported the case for change. The ACT was the only jurisdiction to vote ‘Yes’ with a stonking 60% in favour of the amendment, but being a territory, that counted towards the national total only. On Saturday, a gutted PM Anthony Albanese took responsibility for the defeat, saying, “when you aim high, sometimes you fall short.” But Coalition leader Peter Dutton continued his criticism of Albanese’s handling of the exercise, calling it “the referendum that Australia did not need to have.”

What are the key takeouts?

How about 3 of ‘em? 

  • Electorally speaking, it’s a huge defeat. If you break down the result by our 151 federal electorates, about 30 voted in support of the proposition, and they are based in the inner suburbs/affluent areas of our state capitals. And the further from the cities, the more resounding the ‘No’ vote
  • Queensland returned the biggest ‘No’ vote, with almost 69% against it. South Oz was next, with 64.5% voting no – and that’s surprised some analysts given the state’s getting its own Indigenous Voice. Victoria recorded the strongest ‘Yes’ result, with 45% of residents in favour. 
  • As for why the referendum went down, a lot of people have said a lot of things… But to stay top-level, Albanese says the lack of bipartisan support was the biggest factor in the result. But ‘No’ campaigner Warren Mundine said the lack of details about how the Voice would work was a big negative for voters.  

So what’s next?

Well, the PM says it’s “not the end of the road” and that reconciliation is not dead. But his government won’t pursue a Voice… As for the Coalition, Indigenous Australians spokeswoman Jacinta Nampijinpa Price says we should begin “a new era in Indigenous policy” focusing on those who need the most help. She’s called for a Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities and an audit of spending on Indigenous programs. As for ‘Yes’ supporting Indigenous leaders, many will be silent this week for “mourning and reflection”. Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney acknowledged that the result would be hard for many Indigenous people. “Be proud of the 65,000 years of history and culture that you are part of, and your rightful place in this country. We will carry on, and we will move forward, and we will thrive,” she said.

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