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Australians reject Indigenous recognition via Voice to Parliament
20 October 2023
Australians have rejected recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the nation's
first people in the constitution through the establishment of a Voice to Parliament advisory body.
Nationally, a majority of voters, 60% to 40% said No to the proposed constitutional change.
The ACT, is the only jurisdiction to return a Yes vote.
The Voice to Parliament proposal was Australia's 45th referendum, of which only eight have passed.
The double majority requires both a majority of the national vote and a majority of the states
voting Yes for a referendum to pass.
Mr Albanese has repeatedly said that the call for a Voice was a "modest request" from First Nations
The Voice to Parliament would have been an advisory body with no power of veto but permanently
enshrined in the constitution, meaning a future government of the day could not abolish it without
holding another referendum.
The Voice was first proposed after hundreds of Indigenous Australians, who took part in the Uluru
Dialogues, issued the Statement from the Heart six years ago. That statement called for a
constitutionally enshrined Voice along with truth telling and treaty.
"While the result is not one that I had hoped for, I absolutely respect the decision of the Australian
people and the democratic process that has delivered it," Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.
He said the nation must now come together to overcome the disadvantage that Indigenous
Australians face because "no one could say more of the same is good enough".
Mr Albanese said the "real division" in Australia was one of disadvantage, which he defined as the
gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in life expectancy, education and the
rates of suicide and disease.
"A great nation like ours can and must do better for the First Australians," the prime minister said.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the result was "good for the country".
"This is a referendum that Australia did not need to have," he said.
"What we have seen tonight is Australians literally in their millions reject the prime minister's
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has blamed federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton for
making the referendum "divisive".
"The moment Peter Dutton decided to campaign No against the Voice was the moment this
referendum became divisive," she said.
The Yes campaign said it had 80,000 volunteers across the country helping its effort Saturday.
"I'm devastated" said Thomas Mayo, one of the leading Yes campaigners.
"The proposal that we have made is the right one. We need a Voice, we need that structural change
and we got it right at Uluru.
"History will reflect poorly on [Opposition Leader] Peter Dutton, [One Nation Leader] Pauline
Hanson, all that have opposed this."
Academic and Yes campaigner Marcia Langton, one of the key people in designing a model for how
a Voice could work, described the result as an enormous rejection.
"It's very clear that reconciliation is dead," she told SBS.
"A majority of Australians have said no to an invitation from Indigenous Australians."
Independent senator Lidia Thorpe, a leading No campaigner, said she was not surprised by the
The first aboriginal woman elected to the Victorian parliament, said Australia needed a treaty with
First Nations people before the constitution was changed.
Waving a copy of the Australian constitution on the ABC camera, senator Thorpe, said "a bunch of
white men wrote this in 1900 with no regard to the aboriginal people and no regard to women.
Now they want to put us in it, she asked.
Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney, who became emotional while speaking after the
results were declared, said in the months ahead she would announce renewed government
commitments to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
She insisted the result was not the end of reconciliation.
"I know the last few months have been tough, but be proud of who you are, be proud of your
identity, be proud of the 65,000 years of history and culture you are part of," Ms Burney said.
Adelaide, South Australia