Voters in Australia’s constitutional referendum overwhelmingly rejected a plan to create a First Nations advisory council to the federal government. Vote tallies showed that the “no” camp was still ahead by a significant margin (59% to 41%).
On Saturday, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation predicted an overwhelming loss for the vote.
When asked to paint a positive vision for the future, Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese replied he respected the people’s will.
Now, “it’s up to all of us to come together and find a different way to the same reconciled destination,” he concluded.
It is still a point of national pride that Australia has a history stretching back 65,000 years, he said. Starting tomorrow, you and I will continue to pen the next installment of Australia’s epic tale. And restoration of peace is essential to that final chapter.
Australia’s so-called “double-majority” requirement means that any amendment to the constitution needs the approval of at least four of the country’s six states. Saturday night’s projections indicated that no state had voted in favour of the Voice to Parliament.
This included New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, and South Australia, the Canberra Times reported.
Western Australia is currently counting its votes, but the “no” camp has a commanding lead.
The outcome will be a political loss for the 18-month-old center-left Labour government and a setback for reconciliation attempts with Indigenous Australians.
Despite Albanese’s hopes that the vote would unite Australians, it has instead shown divide and stoked accusations of racism.
In response to a 2017 request by Indigenous elders, Albanese called for a referendum to increase the number of seats reserved for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
However, surveys taken before the referendum showed overwhelming disapproval of the Voice to Parliament, with many Australians worried that it would cause racial strife and many more confused as to its purpose.
Thomas Mayo, a spokesman for the Yes campaign, said on ABC, “It’s not the Australian people’s fault.” “We should be blaming those who have lied to us, to the people of Australia.”
Albanese will suffer emotionally and politically if the referendum fails because he frequently displayed emotion while advocating for the amendment.
“This is the referendum that Australia did not need to have,” Peter Dutton, head of the opposition center-right Liberal Party, said. “What we’ve seen tonight is millions of Australians rejecting the prime minister’s divisive referendum,” said one commentator.
Only eight of the forty-five referendums held in Australia since Federation in 1901 have been successful, so this adds to a long list of failures.