The first referendum of the 21st century occurred on Saturday as Australia went to the polls to decide on the recognition of a First Nation’s voice in the constitution.
The result of the referendum was comprehensive. It was defeated less than two hours after the polls closed when it became clear the no vote had an unassailable lead in three states, meaning the state majority needed to pass the Voice was impossible.
The result is a damning blow to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who’s term as PM has been highlighted by the referendum.
Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation described the result as disappointing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the nation.
The Corporation’s CEO, Richard Weston went a step further and called the result “gut wrenching”, highlighting the clear majority who had effectively rejected the Uluru Statement.
“These last few months have been difficult and the most worrying thing about the success of the No case was the level of disinformation, the bigoted commentary and demonisation of many good Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the Yes side of the referendum that revealed itself,” Mr Weston said.
Mr Weston added that he had been, “buoyed by the many quarters of support that we received during this campaign.
“Millions of Australians across the nation supported the change to the Constitution and I feel confident that the good will by ordinary non-Aboriginal people locally and across the nation will remain.,” Mr Weston continued
“I would like to thank Maari Ma staff for their support during this campaign and I was proud to work for an organisation that publicly supported the Yes case.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people belong to the oldest living cultures in the world. 65,000 years of history and culture that has come before us, and which will continue long after we are gone, has made us resilient. – history has proved that, and we will continue to be resilient.”
In our local electorate, Parkes, the Voice was emphatically defeated. At the time this article is being written, more than 81 per cent of the votes had been tallied with an astonishing 79.39 per cent of those votes for the no camp. The vote in Parkes is set to be the highest no vote in any electorate in New South Wales.
Parkes MP, Mark Coulton intimated he was glad the referendum was over and done with, and urged constituents to take the time to regroup and recover after what has been a very difficult process leading up to the referendum.
“The Referendum highlighted a significant divide between the responses of those in cities compared to regional areas, and I want to make the point that Labor needs to start genuinely listening to the regions instead of existing in urban echo chambers if it wants to lead this country well.
“As we pick up the pieces from the Voice to Parliament Referendum, I am encouraging Australians of all backgrounds not to be discouraged and to build on the positive.
“We do not have a perfect country, but we do have plenty to celebrate – let’s find what works, let’s set our eyes on the future, and let’s continue to work towards better outcomes for all Australians.”
As it stands (at 10am on Tuesday), all six states had voted against the proposed Voice. The Northern Territory has also overwhelmingly voted against the historic change. The Australian Capital territory was the outlier, with more than 60 per cent of votes going in favour of the change.