Australians on Saturday pointedly rejected indigenous rights reform brought forward by referendum, at the end of an acrimonious campaign that has deepened racial divisions in the continental nation.
After counting the votes of three-quarters of the country’s polling stations, it appears that 55% of voters voted “no” to the text that proposes recognizing in the constitution the indigenous people as the first inhabitants of the island continent and granting them a specific “voice.”
The plan called for the creation of an advisory council – nicknamed “The Voice” – for Parliament and government to advise on laws and public policies affecting Aboriginal, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who number 984,000 people, or 3.8% of the population. Australian population.
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles told ABC, “Australians voted against changing the constitution,” acknowledging the failure of the referendum.
Initially largely in the majority, the camp in favor of changing the 1901 constitution has continued to decline in recent months, particularly due to a campaign led by the Conservative opposition, led by former Defense Secretary Peter Dutton.
For the conservative camp, the reform was a constitutional tinkering and would create divisions within society, by creating discrimination in citizenship.
“It’s a difficult result, a very difficult result,” Yes23 campaign director Dean Parkin said.
He stressed: “We did everything we could, and we will return to that.”
The campaign led to a torrent of racist comments on online media.
False information has also been circulating, some claiming that property titles could be in question or that compensation would have to be paid if the reform is passed.
For The Voice’s supporters, this reform was to help heal the still-resolved wounds of a past of colonialism and racial oppression.
Today, more than 200 years after British colonialism, Indigenous Australians, whose ancestors have lived on the continent for at least 60,000 years, enjoy the same rights as other citizens, but they still suffer from stark inequality.
Yes supporter Karen White, 59, estimated before the vote that if “The Voice” was rejected, it would be “a day of shame for Australia.”
De Duchesne, 60, who campaigned for No, explained that she wanted to “avoid adding an additional layer of bureaucracy to our constitution.”
She said she was called a racist while handing out leaflets near a polling station in Sydney. “I’m not,” she says.
Aboriginal leader Thomas Mayo expressed anger at those who campaigned for a ‘no’ vote.
They lied to the Australians. The Australian people should not forget this lie.”
He added: “There should be repercussions for this type of behavior in our democracy, and they should not be able to get away with it.”
Centre-left Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who was heavily involved in the campaign, made a final appeal to voters on Saturday, who had not listened to him. “It’s about respecting Indigenous Australians. It’s about how we see ourselves as a nation, but also how the world sees us,” he said.
Voting was compulsory for the 17.5 million Australian voters.
In order for this reform to be adopted, it had to obtain not only a majority of votes at the national level, but also in at least four of the country’s six states.
Didn’t get either.
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