We’re still to hear from the Government on a date for the Voice to Parliament referendum, but experts say it’s most likely October 14.
This means it’s just under two months away – and polling over the last few months has put the ‘No’ vote ahead. If these polls fall in line on Referendum day, this vital opportunity to constitutionally recognise First Australians might not succeed. The Albanese Government has promised to ramp up its campaign to push the ‘Yes’ case, but many fear it could be too little too late; the doubts about the Voice to Parliament being sown by the ‘No’ campaign may just accelerate into enough votes to sink this referendum.
Of course, a failed referendum would add wind to the sails of Dutton’s Coalition; many Liberals even see this as the beginning of their political comeback after their resounding defeat in the 2022 elections. That a referendum making major progress towards true reconciliation in Australia has been politicised, is a sad indictment on the politics of the Coalition.
The referendum will constitutionally enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, a new advisory body tasked with representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at Parliament. This is a body chosen by First Nations Australians providing advice only on matters relating to the social, spiritual, and economic needs of First Nations Australians, matters which Parliament have historically failed to ‘close the gap’ on.
The Albanese Government wants the Voice enshrined in the Constitution, meaning it will be a permanent fixture supporting reconciliation, regardless of who is in charge. Peter Dutton and the Coalition agree the Voice is a good idea, but are opposed to constitutional enshrinement, instead believing it should be legislated at the whims and direction of Government.
It was a great honour to meet with AFL legend Michael Long OAM.
Whilst we disagree on the Voice, it was a very enjoyable and respectful conversation.
I commend Michael’s life of work dedicated to improving the lives of Indigenous Australians. pic.twitter.com/h5NOTzkYgv
— Peter Dutton (@PeterDutton_MP) June 19, 2023
Effectively, Dutton’s Coalition are advocating for the whims of a politician’s bill to have dominion over a body representing some of Australia’s most marginalised people. If the Coalition truly support better outcomes for Indigenous Australians, why not back the referendum as proposed, instead of undermining a structure which is stable, independent from Government, and therefore likely to be effective? Instead, the Coalition have chosen to sow distrust and confusion, which is tantamount to sitting back and letting generations of First Nations Australians continue to struggle under ineffective, out-of-touch legislation.
The last Federal election made it clear the Coalition had lost touch with everyday Australians. Their stance now on the referendum could push them further away from young Australians, most of whom are passionately in favour of the Voice. We’ve pointed out before that if the Liberals want to connect better with Australia, they need to be less blokey, less white, more youthful, and more diverse.
Though Peter Dutton and the Coalition might win the battle with their current ‘No’ campaign rhetoric, they could lose the war for the heart and soul of young Australians.
Read more: Indian Link Statement of Support: The Voice