Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore has blasted the “ugly, Trumpian tactics” and “harmful misinformation” perpetuated by the ‘No’ campaign following the crushing defeat of the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
“It’s a sad, sad day,” the lord mayor said in a statement released on Sunday following the referendum defeat, adding that the outcome was “devastating and tragic”.
“While I’m grateful that the vast majority of the City of Sydney accepted the generous invitation from First Nations communities, I share your profound disappointment and sadness at the overall result and the rejection of this opportunity to build a brighter future for all.”
Moore confirmed Aboriginal flags would be flown at half mast this week across all council buildings in response to the referendum result.
Flags will also be flown at half mast throughout Sydney’s Inner West Council from Monday.
Mayor Darcy Byrne said the decision was “in recognition of what a sad event this is, and just to show respect.”
“Imagine how a young indigenous person feels, waking up this morning, looking at that result.”
The Voice failed to clear the “double majority” hurdle required to alter the constitution with the proposal falling short of securing majority support in every state, and at a national level.
However, the inner urban areas of Sydney defied the national result to vote in favour of the proposal. The electorates of Grayndler, Sydney and Wentworth – which overlap with the City of Sydney local government area – strongly supported the proposed constitutional alteration.
Amid accusations from Voice proponents that the ‘No’ campaign had been “dishonest” and “lied to the Australian people”, the Sydney lord mayor also expressed her frustration at the tactics used by Voice opponents.
“I’m bitterly disappointed that opportunity was seized upon by a mean, ungenerous and negative political campaign,” she said in a statement.
“It drowned out the simple fact that we need to do more to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
If successful, the proposal would have created a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous advisory body with no power of veto, meaning a future government would not be able to abolish it without holding a second referendum.
Following the overwhelming defeat, Moore called on Voice supporters to harness their advocacy to push for other measures that would address Indigenous disadvantage.
“We must build on that momentum, that energy, and demand change that meets the needs and aspirations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and that we have been fighting for long before the Referendum campaign,” she said.
“Let yesterday’s loss be a stepping stone on the path to progress, justice and equality.”