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Three ways Anthony Albanese's ‘Yes’ campaign got it wrong

Experts have weighed in on the issues that likely stopped the Yes campaign from prevailing.

Despite polls being overwhelmingly in favour of Anthony Albanese's Voice to Parliament proposal at the start of the year, in the end it took only 90 minutes once the vote counting began for it to get rejected.

The government's bid to change the 122-year-old constitution and formally recognise First Nations people is now no more — with many left confused as to how the Yes campaign lost control of the referendum.

Left, Anthony Albanese speaks at Marrickville Town Hall with Yes campaigners holding signs behind him. Right, the PM speaks while making a 'peace' sign with his left hand.
Experts weigh in on where they believe Anthony Albanese's 'Yes' campaign went wrong after The Voice to Parliament is rejected. Anthony Albanese Source: Yahoo News and Getty

As millions across the the country either rejoice or begin a week of mourning, experts weigh in on how Australia's current reality came to be.

Lack of bipartisan support instigated drop in voter confidence

When asked why he believed his proposal failed to pass, Anthony Anthony immediately pointed to the lack of bipartisan support — with all of Australia's previously successful referendums having support from both major parties.

"For people who don't pay close attention to politics, they will vote with their party, or the party they normally support as sort of a shortcut method to working things out," Monash University's law expert Professor Luke Beck told Yahoo News Australia. "Bipartisan support gives more confidence to people to vote yes."

With Opposition Leader Peter Dutton being "steadfast" in his decision to not support the proposal, this unarguably created uncertainty for voters and many may have opted for no change over any at all because there was two opposing view points.

It is unclear whether bipartisan support is a cause or a factor for a successful referendum, Professor Beck said, however, the clear pattern made many question whether the Voice should be pushed as a referendum at all — with there being no clear solution the Yes campaign could have implemented to minimise its impact.

Misinformation rife in lead up to voting day

After the result was announced on Saturday night, Yes campaign director Dean Parkin accused the opposing side of leading the "single largest misinformation campaign that this country has ever seen" as many claimed No campaigners perpetuated confusion and spread disinformation to win votes.

“All we wanted to do was to join with you, our Indigenous story, our Indigenous culture. Not to take away or diminish what it is that you have but to add to it, to strengthen [it], to enrich it," he said on Saturday.

At the beginning of the year there was proposed change to campaigning rules to combat misinformation in political advertising, however, it was decided by government this would be implemented after the referendum.

"The campaign would have been very different if we had had both federal truth and political advertising in place," Professor Beck said.

Questions left unanswered by PM

On Friday — one day before voting day — a poll in the Herald Sun suggested 53 per cent of Aussies still had unanswered questions about the referendum and this uncertainty may have encouraged voters to lean toward the behaviour encouraged by the by No campaign's slogan, 'If you don't know, vote no'.

"[The opposition insisted] there were more questions that we don't have answers to and I think that just continued to build the doubt in many people's mind," Dr Zareh Ghazarian, Senior Lecturer in Politics at Monash University told Yahoo News Australia. "I think that did contribute to the No vote, where the the idea was that if people had reservations, if they had questions that weren't appearing to be answered, then vote No."

Josh Roose, Politics Associate Professor at Deakin University shared a similar sentiment and told Yahoo News the referendum was instituted quickly with "limited publicly digestible information” and instead the prime minister "anticipated the wider community would know and have a good understanding of what this would mean.”

What will Labor do next?

With pressing issues such as the rising cost of living and housing crisis requiring the governments attention, it is believed "Labour will feel under pressure" to deliver outcomes amid the weekend's referendum defeat.

“Labor will be keen to try and put something on the table between now and the end of the political year to remind us that they're a competent government that they’re actually dealing with the issues," Political scientist and Honorary Professor Simon Jackman told Yahoo News.

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Yahoo Australia