A prominent Aboriginal activist has slammed the Prime Minister as “insulting and apathetic” for his response to the defeat of the Voice referendum.
Sally Scales, a Pitjantjatjara woman who is on the board of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, took to Twitter on Saturday night as the results came in to voice frustration at the Labor Party.
“This was a devastating result that keeps our people in the status quo. It is bleak. The PM was insulting & pathetic,” she said.
“How dare he. A cop out. Albanese and the ALP will not accept the lies that we put up with.
“We have been rejected by the Australian people. Reconciliation is dead.”
Ms Scales later described Aboriginal Affairs Minister Linda Burney’s speech as “glib and flippant”, and said “lies” and “racism” drove the result.
An artist from South Australia, Ms Scales had been a prominent proponent of the Yes campaign.
This was a devastating result that keeps our people in the status quo. It is bleak. The PM was insulting & pathetic. How dare he. A cop out. Albanese and the ALP will not accept the lies that we put up with. We have been rejected by the Australian people. Reconciliation is dead.
— Sally Scales (@SallyScales) October 14, 2023
FUTURE REFERENDUM ‘OFF THE MENU’ AFTER VOICE DEFEAT
Legal experts have warned that the likelihood of future referendums, including becoming a republic, have been reduced after the Voice’s defeat.
University of Sydney constitutional law professor Anne Twomey told The Australian there was a “real risk” there will be no future referendums.
“We’ve already seen that so far, because the amount of time between referendums has extended,” Professor Towney said.
“Referendums were relatively frequent in the first 50 years of Federation and as they began to fail, they became less and less frequent.”
Professor Towney said that as long as opposition parties saw political advantage in opposing referendums, then they were liked doomed to fail.
Emeritus professor of constitutional law Greg Craven added the because the voice had been “absolutely smashed” any referendum in the future would be “taken off the menu”.
“It’s the first referendum we’ve had in 24 years and it’s been absolutely smashed. It’s hard to think of a worse result,” Professor Craven told The Australian.
A second referendum, touted by opposition leader Peter Dutton if he became Prime Minister, could also be doomed to fail, experts warned,
“IT DOES NOT DEFINE US”: ACTIVIST’S MESSAGE TO KIDS
The CEO of an Aboriginal organisation has revealed her message to First Nations children after the devastating defeat of the Voice referendum.
Arrente and Luritija woman Catherine Liddle is the CEO of SNAICC, the “national voice” for First nations children.
Ms Liddle told The Project on Sunday her message to children after the loss of the Yes campaign started with a simple gesture: “Smile.”
“They’re our babies, and we’re so proud of them. I say: ‘This moment in time, it does not define you’,” Ms Liddle said.
“It does not define us. Be proud. Be proud of who you are, and understand we’re all going to have to walk a different path now.
“We’ve had multiple go’s, and that is why so many people feel sad today – we’ve had so many attempts at trying to move forward.”
Ms Liddle said many statistics relating to Aboriginal children were getting worse, and suggested an Aboriginal commissioner was a possible solution in lieu of the Voice.
GILLARD DELIVERS MESSAGE TO AUSTRALIANS AFTER VOICE DEFEAT
Former prime minister Julia Gillard has expressed that the defeat of the proposed Voice to Parliament is a “moment of reflection for Australia” but there is still hope for a better future.
“While the referendum result is not the one I had hoped for, I remain hopeful that all Australians want to heal divisions and create a better future together,” she said in a statement released on social media.
“As we emerge from this chapter in our nation’s story, we must maintain hope that a better future is possible.
“This was not our only chance at healing.”
Gillard, who currently serves as the chair of mental health and wellbeing support organisation, Beyond Blue said the result of the referendum would be particularly distressing for Indigenous Australians and encouraged them to access mental health support if required.
ALBANESE RESPONSIBLE FOR CAUSING ‘PAIN’: CASH
Anthony Albanese was warned by senior members of the Yes23 campaign to postpone the referendum amid a collapse of support for the Voice.
The campaign was concerned the referendum was destined to fail by the time the Prime Minister named the date of the referendum in Adelaide in August, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Opinion polls released in the months leading up to polling day overwhelmingly had the Yes camp on track for defeat. Coalition frontbencher senator Michaelia Cash on Sunday said Mr Albanese needed to have a “good look” at himself.
“Many on the Coalition side called for along the way (for) Mr Albanese to just stop. This was a referendum Mr Albanese did not need to have,” she told Sky News.
“There were senior Yes23 campaigners that months ago said to Mr Albanese ‘do not proceed down this path’. But Mr Albanese chose to.
“Mr Albanese is responsible squarely for putting Australians through the pain that he has done so over the last 12 months.”
The Coalition’s legal affairs spokeswoman said the dust needed to settle first before the opposition would reveal what policies they would be pushing for following the referendum’s failure beyond calling for an audit for funding for Indigenous programs.
But in an awkward blunder for Senator Cash, she claimed the Coalition did not have a person of lived experience in its ranks prior to the election of senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price.
The oversight came when Sky News political editor Andrew Clennell pressed the senator about why the Coalition did not conduct an audit of the funding during its nine years in power.
“We never had senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price,” she told Sky News.
“For the first time in Australia’s history, we have someone with lived experience fronting Australia and being able to carry the conversation and quite frankly, we now need to back senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price in.
“This is actually quite frankly a historic moment for Australia.”
However, the first Indigenous person to hold the Indigenous Australians portfolio was Ken Wyatt, her former Western Australian Liberal colleague.
Mr Wyatt sensationally quit the party earlier this year in protest after opposition leader Peter Dutton announced the Liberal Party would oppose the referendum.
YES CAMPAIGN WAS ‘OVERCONFIDENT’
A Liberal MP who quit Peter Dutton’s frontbench to campaign for the Voice to Parliament has outlined the two major reasons why the referendum failed in a blunt television interview.
Julian Leeser was the Liberals legal affairs and Indigenous Australians spokesman before the party decided to campaign against the referendum.
Speaking with ABC’s Insiders on Sunday morning, he said Labor’s “overconfidence” and the abandonment of the Voice process started by Mr Wyatt in the former Coalition government were factors behind Australia’s rejection.
“I think the first was to abandon the process that Ken Wyatt began by rolling out the local and regional Voice bodies first,” he said.
“They would have created a sense of confidence and understanding of what the Voice would do, when we talk about a national body.
“I think the second thing was a parliamentary overconfidence because of the high polls of this last year, because of the government's own electoral success at the last election.
“The result in the marriage survey suggested that this would be an easier task than it was.
“As we now know, eight out of 45 occasions referendums have not succeeded.
“That overconfidence reflected the decision made. While I think, on reflection it would have been good to have a tripartite co-design of what would be put to the Australian people and that didn't happen.”
YES CAMPAIGNER HITS OUT AT DUTTON
A leading Yes campaigner has slammed Mr Dutton for being “comfortable kicking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the face” during his victory speech on Saturday night.
Marcus Stewart, a Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation, fronted up on ABC Radio on Sunday morning when he made the frank assessment.
“When he (Dutton) come out and started criticising Aboriginal activists, again, stereotyping Aboriginal people … playing personal politics, this is bigger than that,” he said.
“Don’t call people names. Don’t continue to do the division. Let’s get to work. Because our communities and our people are suffering, that’s what’s the priority.
“Peter, stand up, lead, work with us and let’s get to work.”
He said overall the result was “tough to digest” but acknowledged the referendum “elevated” the conversation about Indigenous Australia.
But he said Australians did not cast a No vote because they were racist but because did not believe it was the best way forward.
“Australians now have a stronger baseline of, you know, the challenges that Aboriginal people are facing across this country,” he said.
“We hope that everyone‘s ready to get to work, all their political leadership, put the politics away,” he said.
Independent senator Lidia Thorpe, who appeared on the program just moments after Mr Stewart, said he was being hypocritical.
“Marcus Stewart is also politically motivated because of who his wife is and the fact that he wants to also become a Labor politician one day he told me that himself,” she claimed.
Mr Stewart, a former co-chair of Victoria’s First People’s Assembly, is the husband of Victorian Labor senator Jana Stewart.
REFERENDUM WAS ‘SHOVED DOWN OUR THROATS’: THORPE
Senator Thorpe split with the Greens over the party’s decision to support the Yes campaign. She told ABC Radio the next steps should include truth telling and treaty.
“The problem with the referendum is that it was just shoved down our throats so hard that that’s why we’re hurting now,” she said.
“We’re told it’s going to be good for us, and if Australia doesn’t support us in that Australia doesn’t love us. Well, I think that’s a really wrong narrative to begin with. And that’s why people are hurting so much today.”
“We're in a war … we need to end that war. And the only way we can do that is through truth telling, healing, and ultimately a treaty, because that's the only thing left for us. And that’s what will truly unite this nation.”
It comes as the Greens urged the government to commit $250m to a Truth and Justice Commission to support the healing process.
LABOR LINES UP TO DEFEND ALBO, REFERENDUM
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said the government would not shy away from the Uluru Statement from the Heart but drew a line under the potential for another referendum.
The Coalition has pushed for a second referendum to be held to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution without enshrining the Voice.
But Mr Marles told ABC’s Insiders that wouldn’t be the case under Labor.
“We were committed to putting this to the Australian people and we've done that, and that’s that. Now, we gave it our best shot … but we’ve come up short,” he said.
“We’re not moving down the path of another referendum. We've been making that clear for some time. I mean, this was what we put I think the Australian people have made their position very clear.”
The deputy prime minister said the government had weighed up whether it was best to press on when it became clear the Coalition would not be supporting the referendum.
“Did we understand that it was more difficult? Of course we did. But we didn’t go to the election saying, ‘We will take this to the Australian people so long as Peter Dutton agrees’,” he said.
But Mr Marles said the government remained committed to the Uluru Statement, signed in 2017, which called for Voice, Treaty and Truth.
“We have committed to implementing the Uluru Statement in full. That’s what we have taken to the Australian people and been our articulated position for a long time,” he said.
“I think in terms of specific steps and what we do now … we need to let the dust settle here. Right now I think is it about standing with and embracing Indigenous Australia in this moment.”
Meanwhile, a senior Labor frontbencher says he doesn’t believe Australians will tie the referendum result to the government’s broader electoral fortunes.
Health Minister Mark Butler told Sky News he thought Australians could differentiate between the result and their Judgement on the government.
He drew on the referendum losses suffered under the Hawke government as proof voters could tell the difference.
“I don’t think there’s any basis for people to draw too close a connection between a referendum campaign and the broader fortunes of a government,” Mr Butler said.
Mr Butler said he was disappointed but not shocked the Voice was rejected, and pinned the failure on the lack of bipartisan support.
“We now have to find a new way forward on reconciliation and closing the gap,” Mr Butler said
ALL STATES VOTE NO TO VOICE REFERENDUM
Australians have overwhelmingly rejected a referendum to enshrine an Indigenous Voice in the Constitution, with all six states voting against the proposal.
At 10am on Sunday, the national tally stood at 60 per cent for the No vote and 40 per cent for Yes.
The ACT, which like the Northern Territory is only included in the national total, is the only jurisdiction to have returned a Yes vote.
Voters in Queensland were most against the proposal for constitutional change, with 68 per cent of votes cast for the No.
The No camp also resonated with NSW and Victoria voters, who rejected the referendum 59 per cent and 54 per cent respectively.
Meanwhile, South Australia returned a 64 per cent vote for No, while 59 per cent of Tasmanians and 63 per cent of WA voters voted against the change.
Just 38 per cent of NT voters were in favour of the proposal.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the results indicated Australians were “not ready” for a Voice to Parliament.
“This wasn’t the right way. I acknowledge all the strong feedback,” she said in a statement on Sunday morning.
“The Australian people have spoken. And their voice tells me they’re not ready. Not yet.
“I respect that. They never get it wrong.”
In a joint statement with Victoria’s Minister for Treaty and First Peoples, Premier Jacinta Allan spoke directly to her state’s Indigenous population.
“We know that a lot of First Nations people will be hurting today,” the statement said.
“We know that for many Australians, the pain they feel will linger – and for others, it may never fade at all.
“To First Nations people, we say this clearly: Victorians respect you and your culture.
“We want a better future for you. We want a better future for your communities. We want a better future for your children. And we want a better future for the generations to come.”
AUSTRALIANS ‘GET IT RIGHT’: NATIONALS LEADER
Australians would have woken up to a different outcome if voters were asked to vote only on constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians, Nationals leader David Littleproud says.
“Australian people always get it right. The important thing is what the Australian people wanted was a different proposition,” he told Nine’s Weekend Today on Sunday morning.
“If it was just about constitutional recognition I think it would have been a totally different result.”
The Nationals ended hope of bipartisan support for the referendum by announcing its opposition to an advisory body in Constitution last November.
Mr Littleproud told Nine it was now on politicians and bureaucrats to get out of Canberra and head into communities to speak to local Elders.
“Let’s do something different making sure we get bureaucrats out of Canberra into the communities not sending them to Canberra and making sure they have bespoke solutions,” he said.
ALBANESE TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR REFERENDUM
A shattered Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has accepted responsibility for the referendum which was resoundingly rejected by Australians.
Mr Albanese addressed voters just hours after the referendum result was called in favour of the No camp on Saturday evening, vowing to chart a new path forward to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
“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.
“When we reflect on everything happening in the world today, we can all give thanks that here in Australia we make the big decisions peacefully and as equals, with one vote, one value.
“Tonight is not the end of the road and is certainly not the end of our efforts to bring people together.”
“The issues we sought to address have not gone away and neither have the people of goodwill and good heart, who want to address them and address them we will.”
CALLS FOR PM TO RESIGN
South Australia Opposition leader David Speirs has declared the Prime Minister should step down from the top job in the wake of the referendum’s failure.
“I think the damage he has done to our country and to the very fabric of what it means to be Australian is quite frankly heartbreaking,” he said to Australian reporters.
“It‘ll be up to the Prime Minister and the federal Labor Party tomorrow to make a call on what he does now – but I think he should resign, he said.