Yes voters break down after Voice wipe-out

More than 17m Australians were expected to vote in the Voice to Parliament referendum before 6pm on Saturday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Morgan Sette

Yes campaigners have broken down in tears as Australia voted No to the Voice to Parliament referendum.

Yes23 director Dean Parkin told faithful supporters in Sydney that the campaign had done its best to “alleviate all doubts” and ensure the proposal was strong and legally safe.

After a gruelling six-week campaign, millions of Australians cast their vote in the first referendum since 1999.

Sky News election analyst Tom Connell made the call shortly before 7.30pm, after calling No to win in Tasmania, NSW, and South Australia.

Even if Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria all voted yes, it would be impossible for the referendum to pass the required double majority hurdle.

YES 23
Yes supporters looked crestfallen at the Wests Ashfield Leagues Club. Picture: NCA NewsWIRE / Monique Harmer
YES 23
The referendum was declared after Australians voted No to implementing an Indigenous Voice to parliament. Picture: NCA NewsWIRE / Monique Harmer
YES 23
The call was made shortly before 7.30pm. Picture: NCA NewsWIRE / Monique Harmer
Australians Vote In Indigenous Voice To Parliament Referendum
Yes supporters became emotional as the referendum result was made clear. Picture: Jenny Evans/Getty Images

The Yes camp’s sole early win has been an overwhelming support from the ACT, voting Yes 65.3 per cent to 34.6 per cent.

But while the territory does count in the national majority, it does not contribute to the required majority of states.

It was a sombre sight at Yes23’s official gathering in western Sydney, where supporters became emotional as the result became clear.

Mr Parkin said the campaign had done “all we could”, but it was clear from the result the campaign was “not able to reach you and cut through what has been the single largest misinformation campaign that this country has ever seen”.

He said political leaders who had opposed the Voice had a “solemn responsibility to join with everybody and help bring this country back together”.

“When parliament sits next week in Canberra, it is time to put the cudgels down. It is time to stop treating our issue as a political football, as it has all too often,” he said.


Prime minister Anthony Albanese says from tomorrow, we “must seek a new way forward”. “At the outset, I want to say that while tonight’s 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,” he said.

He said he accepted "responsibility” for the decision he made, and conceded he could not “guarantee the referendum would succeed”.

“What I could promise was that we would go all in, that we would try, and we have,” he said.

“Of course, when you do the hard things, when you aim high, sometimes you fall short. And tonight we acknowledge, understand and respect that we have.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Linda Burney addressed the media after the Voice to Parliament was defeated. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Martin Ollman
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he took responsibility for the loss. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Martin Ollman

Mr Albanese said the campaign would be a “heavy weight to carry,” especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“So many remarkable Indigenous Australians have put their heart and soul into this cause, not just over the past few weeks and months but through decades, indeed lifetimes, of advocacy,” she said.

Appearing alongside him, Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney appeared to be taking deep breaths and holding back tears.

Speaking about Ms Burney, he credited her as an inspiration.

“You continue to inspire me and make me prouder than ever to be Australian. I have never been as proud to be Australian as when I sat in the red dirt at Uluru with those wonderful women,” he said.

“I have made lifetime friends, and for that I am grateful.”

Ms Burney said it was a “day of sadness”.

“This result is not what we hoped for. The Australian people have had their say, and a clear majority have voted against the proposed change to the constitution,” she said.

“We, of course, except the decision of the Australian people.”

Ms Burney said it was a ‘day of sadness’.
Ms Burney said it was a ‘day of sadness’.

She also thanked the Prime Minister, her parliamentary colleagues and those who worked on the Yes23 campaign, and said it was not the end of reconciliation.

“I know this outcome will be hard for some, but achieving progress is never easy, and progress doesn’t always move in a straight line,” she said.

“There are breakthroughs and heartbreaks, but I am confident that because of this campaign and the millions of conversations it has sparked, the renewed generation of Indigenous leaders will emerge.”


Indigenous Australians who supported the Voice Referendum have initiated a “week of silence” from tonight to “greive this outcome and reflect on its meaning and significance”.

In a joint statement issue shortly after the referendum result was announced, they said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags would be lowered to half-mast, and asked other flags “to do the same”.

“Now is no the time to dissect the reasons for this tragic outcome,” it said.

“This will be done in the weeks, years and decades to come. now is the time for silence, to mourn and deeply consider the consequence of this outcome.”

While they promised to “not rest long,” the letter said they would “re-gather our strength and resolve,” and determine a “new direction for justice and our rights”.

“To our people we say: Do not shed tears. This rejection was never for others to issue. The truth is that rejection was always ours to determine,” it read.

“The truth is that we offered this recognition and it has been refused. We now know where we stand in this our own country.”


Addressing media, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the result did not divide Australians.

He thanked Jacinta Price and Warren Mundine and said: “no-one is owed more gratitude than each of these individuals”.

He said all Australians wanted to see disadvantage among Indigenous Australians addressed, however the referendum result was clear they “disagreed” on the solution.

“All of us know people who have voted yes and people who voted no, but to those of you who voted yes, let me say these few words,” he said.

“As the leader of the Coalition, who has supported the no campaign, while I disagree with your position, I respect your decision to have voted yes.”

Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton called on both Yes and No voters to come together. Picture: Sky News
Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton called on both Yes and No voters to come together. Picture: Sky News

Country Liberal Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price said it was “time for a new era in Indigenous policy and the Indigenous narrative”.

“We need to step away from grievance. Attempting to bring about change through grievance is evidently got us nowhere,” she said.

“It is time to accept that we are all part of the fabric of this nation, that Indigenous Australians are also Australian citizens.”

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price said it was ‘time for a new era in Indigenous policy’. Picture: Sky News
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price said it was ‘time for a new era in Indigenous policy’. Picture: Sky News

Later in a joint press conference with fellow no-campaigner Warren Mundine, Ms Price said the referendum demonstated “inner city elites” did not know “what the rest of Australia is thinking”.

“Perhaps it’s time you listened. That’s what this has told us,” she said.

Mr Mundine said the referendum should have “never, ever happened”.

“The millions of dollars that were spent hundreds of millions of dollars that could work and help Aboriginal people and communities. You know, it was built on a lie,” he said.

“We want to move forward and bring everyone together, you know, go out and have a beer and lots of beers if I have to sit down and have conversations with the other side to get the result that we need to have.”


In a result that had been predicted by the No camp, the majority of Western Australians will likely vote down the Voice.

With 531 of 826 polling places counted (64 per cent), 58.53 per cent of people voted against implementing an Indigenous voice to parliament, with 41.74 per cent selecting yes.


Communications Minister Michelle Rowland, appearing on the Sky News panel, said the government would “of course accept the decision of the Australian people”, but said it was disappointing for the tens of thousands of volunteers who had been involved in the movement “over a very long period of time”.

“I think one of the key things we have now is to ensure that while Australians have said no to this referendum, they certainly have not said no to the need to close the gap and to do better than the status quo,” she said.

“And that is the challenge that is not only before the government, which we gladly pick up, and one of the reasons why we took this referendum forward, but it’s … a challenge for all of Australia, to ensure that whatever we do in our respective roles, that we do better for Indigenous Australians.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will address the country at around 9pm AEDT.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said moving forward, the government and other leaders had a responsibility to “bring people together”,

“We need to heal, and I know that Prime Minister Albanese is very focused on making sure he does everything to unify Australia,” she told Sky News.


Julian Leeser, who quit as shadow attorney general and Indigenous Affairs spokesperson after the Liberal Party opted to vote No, said despite the Yes case having lost, he knew “the cause of reconciliation will ultimately succeed”.

“To every Indigenous Australian I say, this was a vote about the Constitution, it was not a vote about you. It is an undeniable fact that you are our land’s first peoples and I honour you this night,” he said.

“I pledge everything in my being to keep walking the path of reconciliation with you.

“Now that the referendum is over, Australia needs a time of reflection before we consider our next steps on our reconciliation journey.

“We need each other. We belong to each other. We share this land – and we must walk together so that we can close the gaps between us.”

PRESS CLUB - Marcia Langton
Marcia Langton said she would wait for the full count, but said it was a ‘sad moment’ in history. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman


Moments after the referendum was called for No by Sky News, Yes leader Marcia Langton said she wanted “to see the full numbers”.

Speaking to a panel on SBS, Ms Langton said it was “a sad moment in the country’s history”.

“Australia had an opportunity to recognise us in the constitution and do so by allowing for an advisory body to Parliament, and the government to enable us to more quickly overcome the disadvantages,” she said.

“With the majority of Australians voting No to that proposition, I think it will be at least two generations before Australians are capable of putting their colonial hatreds behind them.”

Prof Langton also addressed the claims she said those who planned on voting No were racist.

She said footage of her appearance in Bunbury were shared to Sky News’ Sharri Markson where select clips showed jer “accusing Australians of being racist”.

However Prof Langton clarified she was saying “that the messaging of the No campaign is based in some racial, racialist assumptions”.

“I was asking people to think deeply about the racist underpinnings of the No campaign messaging,” she told the panel.

“So, it is not true that I think Australians are racist and I want to say a big thank you to the 50,000 volunteers who worked hard on the campaign.”


Former prime minister Tony Abbott welcomed the defeat, saying this was the referendum “Australia should have never had to have”.

He said the Australian people had decided to vote against “dramatically changing our system of government”.

“Aboriginal people haven’t been rejected tonight,” he told Sky News.

“I say to any Aboriginal person feeling disappointed – you have not been rejected. What has been rejected is a proposal that should have never been put to the Australian people.

“This wasn’t about recognising you, it was about changing our system of government.”

He said the focus ahead needed to be on closing the gap.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has welcomed the No result. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw


Former senator and Olympian Nova Perris teared up on SBS after the result was called, saying Australia “fears change”.

“Like Marcia, I would like to see the final numbers, but as it sits now, it is gut-wrenching and it makes me sick,” she said.

“It’s a really sad indictment, like … As an educated Aboriginal person who has travelled the world through my sports and education … but the disadvantage of our people, the suffering in the lucky country, 2023, it is disgusting.”


Former deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said Anthony Albanese should have held a constitutional convention before calling the referendum, and failing to do so led to Saturday’s loss.

“I think we could have done this so much better and we could have got something through,” he said to the SBS panel.

“It should have started with a constitutional convention, because it was not just an issue just for Aboriginal people, it was a referendum that had to get the whole of the Australian people … there had to be an engagement with the whole of the Australian people, because the whole of Australian voters were the ones to vote.”

A constitutional convention, where a number of delegates gathered to discuss issues relating to a proposed constitutional change and to decide if a referendum should be held, was convened ahead of the 1999 republic referendum.

After the majority of delegates voted in favour of changing the constitution, a referendum was called, though it was unsuccessful.

Leading No campaigner Warren Mundine. Picture: NCA NewsWIRE / John Gass


The appearance of No leader Warren Mundine on SBS’ referendum coverage has sparked a fiery exchange that saw Studio 10 host Narelda Jacobs scold him for “abusing a national treasure like Marcia Langton”.

Mr Mundine said a lack of detail in the proposal for a Voice to Parliament was responsible for the No vote’s success on Saturday.

When Ms Jacobs went to turn to Ms Langton, who, along with Tom Calma, published a detailed report on what the Voice principles should be, Mr Mundine was quick to repeat his claim that she had “racially abused the Australian people” and “called Australia a racist country”, sparking a furious response from Ms Jacobs.

The journalist went back and forth with Mr Mundine as he continued to speak over her, before cutting in to say: “We are not going to sit here and take you abusing a national treasure like Marcia Langton who never said that Australians were racist. And her words were twisted and I am going to stop you there, Warren.”

Senator Lidia Thorpe lashed the ‘waste of money’ referendum. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling


Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe has blasted the Voice to Parliament as a divisive “waste of money”.

“So here we are, wasted money and a No result, and no justice either way,” she said on the ABC’s Voice panel.

“People don’t either know what it is about, or in terms of the Black Sovereign movement, we don’t want it going to the Constitution.”

The firebrand Senator, who represented the radical No vote among Indigenous Australians, called for truth-telling and a treaty.

“There is no truth telling,” she said.

“A lot of those people out there don’t even know the true history of their land.”

She said Indigenous Australians were living through a genocide and suffered from racism “every minute of every day”.

“We need a truth and justice commission, like they have in South Africa.”

“Tomorrow – that is where we need to begin. To heal this country. To make sure everybody knows the true history.”

YES23 Canberra Colour
The Prime Minister will address the nation from Canberra on Saturday night. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman


Nationals Leader David Littleproud, appearing on a Sky News panel earlier in the night said Mr Albanese had “missed an opportunity to bring the country together” during the process.

He said the Prime Minister had showed hubris in forging ahead with the referendum after the Coalition ruled out bipartisan support.

“This sits solely at his feet, because he’s the one who’s taken this to the Australian people,” he said.

Chris Kenny, a vocal supporter of the Voice, conceded there had been some hubris on Mr Albanese’s part.

“I don’t think he ever believed that the Liberals would outright oppose it,” he said.

“This is history on the national project of reconciliation. And sadly, what’s likely to happen is we’re going to end up with a country that’s deflated and divided on reconciliation … and I think the political class, both major parties, and the media, have let the country down.

“We have not had a mature debate about what’s on the table.”


Appearing on the same panel, Kenny and former chief of staff to Tony Abbott Peta Credlin butted heads over the state of Indigenous affairs in the country.

Kenny and Credlin butted heads after he said that “everyone in this country agrees the current state of Indigenous affairs and Indigenous disadvantage in this country is deplorable, and yet, if this referendum is defeated tonight, it’s a vote for the status quo to keep this deplorable situation”.

Credlin disagreed, saying a No vote was just a “rejection of the model put up”.

Kenny bit back, “that’s the status quo. Nothing changes if we vote no”.

Credlin said it was possible to “change the system without changing the constitution”.

Mr Farmer finished his run across the country with Mr Albanese in Uluru this week. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman


Former Liberal MP Pat Farmer, who spent six months running across the country advocating for a Yes vote, said the division pushed by certain political parties had spoked the Voice’s chances of success.

“I’ve said all along this is a humanitarian issue, it’s about closing the gap, rather than being a political issue,” he told Sky News.

“But nevertheless, it’s the way it is, and the Prime Minister has said he will respect the decision at the end of the day.”

He said if a Yes vote did defy poll projections and win on Saturday night, “there will be a change in leadership”.

“People like Julian Leeser will have to step up to the plate to show a new direction for the party,” he said.

“If No gets up then the Liberal Party will feel that they have this mandate for them … and they’ll continue on down this track.”


Independent MP Kate Chaney, who represents Curtin in WA, said the state’s ill-fated Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act had hurt the Yes campaign in the state.

She told The Australian that the controversy around the act in the lead-up to the referendum had put a nail in Yes’ coffin.

The new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act came into force in July, just as debate about the Voice was heating up, with the new laws attracting backlash amid fears it would limit the rights of landowners.

Just a month later, Premier Roger Cook repealed the act.

Votes began being counted at 6pm local time in each state and territory. Picture: Martin KEEP / AFP
Votes began being counted at 6pm local time in each state and territory. Picture: Martin KEEP / AFP


Prominent Yes campaigner, Thomas Mayo said he was “feeling a bit nervous,” however he believed the Yes campaign couldn’t have done “anything different” to achieve a better result.

Speaking to Channel 9, Dr Mayo blasted the no team for running a “dishonest campaign”.

“For us we have done everything right, we told the truth about what this is, simply recognition and listening to Indigenous people,” he said.

Also appearing on Channel 9’s election coverage, Mr Mundine was adamant their message was “honest”.

“The major problem with the yes campaigners, their main leaders like Noel Pearson and Marcia Langton were very attacking and called Australians racist. That is not the way to win any election.”


Melbourne voters were left outraged after being forced to queue for more than two hours on Saturday.

The polling booth in Docklands was the only station available for the tens of thousands of people who live in the city’s centre.

Hundreds of voters waited up to two hours to vote in Melbourne’s CBD. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling

The AEC had experienced difficulties shoring up more locations for Melburnians to vote.

Appearing on Sky News earlier, Melbourne’s Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece said voters having to wait hours to cast their vote was “unacceptable”.

“What we all agree on is that the administration of the voting process in a democracy should be carried out well, and it‘s been a real fail here in Melbourne,” he said.

“Particularly considering we have compulsory voting in this country so we want to make it as easy as possible to cast their vote but we’ve got long queues in Melbourne because hadn’t had that second booth in the CBD.”

Read more here.

An exit poll from South Australia spells trouble for the Yes campaign. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Morgan Sette


South Australia has shaped up to become a bellwether state in the Voice to parliament referendum.

But an exit poll at booths in the electorate of Boothby on Saturday suggest the state, which legislated a state Voice earlier this year, is on track to vote No.

A total of 115 voters across the Adelaide electorate of Boothby were asked how they voted as they left four polling booths. 58 registered a No vote while 56 went for Yes.

The tight numbers deliver a 50.8 per cent No majority versus 49.2 per cent for Yes.

The tight numbers spell trouble for Yes because Boothby is a Labor electorate, currently represented by Louise-Miller Frost.

The Yes campaign needed to run up its vote totals in Labor territory to balance out conservative electorates that lean more heavily towards No.

Read more here.