An emotional Anthony Albanese began Saturday with a simple plea: “We must do better. We can do better”.
Speaking in Balmain, in his inner-west Sydney electorate of Grayndler, the Prime Minister made one of his last pitches to get the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum across the line.
Yes corflutes abounded as he was joined by partner Jodie Haydon, he was met with applause and greeted with a hug from Bill Crews of the Uniting Church.
He spoke to voters, snapped selfies with children and posed with dogs.
Around the country, more than 7000 booths opened for more than 17 million Australians to cast their votes in the first referendum since 1999.
But Mr Albanese wasn’t queuing up to cast his ballot.
He had already voted, opting to go alongside son Nathan at an early voting centre last weekend, so he could spend the last week of the campaign jetting across the country to try and drum up last-minute support.
In a press conference on Saturday morning, Mr Albanese appeared at times emotional as he addressed reporters and volunteers, but remained defiant despite expectations the Voice would fail.
“I am very hopeful of a Yes vote this evening,” he said.
“This is an opportunity to be on the right side of history.
“This is a hand outstretched in friendship from the First Australians to every Australian, just asking for it to be grasped in that spirit of reconciliation and friendship.”
By lunchtime he was in Dapto in the Illawarra, joining Yes volunteers and Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones to make last ditch pleas to undecided voters to cast their support for change.
By the evening, he had returned to Canberra to await the results.
His return to the capital marked the end of a gruelling six week campaign in which he, his colleagues and Yes campaigners crossed the country, seeking support to change the constitution to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice in the constitution.
While Yes23 had organised a small gathering in western Sydney to wait for the votes to come in, there was to be no official gathering for Mr Albanese on Saturday night.
Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney and others were expected to join him at The Lodge for the count for a low-key night.
Sometime after polls closed in Western Australia, at 9pm AEDT, Mr Albanese is set to stand up and address the nation.
Whatever the outcome of the vote, Mr Albanese’s message is believed to be the same: we need to unite.
Around the country on Saturday, it was clear that opinion on the Voice was well and truly divided.
While Australians united behind a good old-fashioned democracy sausage, the results on Saturday night are expected to show that the country was divided over whether or not to enshrine a Voice in the constitution.
A sample of voters in Adelaide proved just that.
“(The Voice) will create a division that is unnecessary,” one voter said.
A 94-year-old Yes voter, Jack Schocroft, voted yes, saying it was “a test of Australia’s maturity”.
Mr Albanese had hoped that Australia would “wake up a stronger nation” on Saturday in the event of a Yes success, but if the last six weeks had made anything clear, it was that there was a hard job ahead of him.