Australians have rejected a proposed constitutional reform that would recognize Indigenous people, according to a referendum. The “Yes” votes failed to reach the required threshold for the creation of an Indigenous advisory body called the “Indigenous Voice to Parliament”. Opponents numbered 60 percent to 40 percent, with all but one of the six states voting to reject the proposal.
Victoria had the highest number of yes votes at 46%, while Queensland had the lowest at 32%. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese defended the referendum decision, stating that it is not the end of the road and will continue efforts to bring people together.
Australia’s Indigenous population, comprising 3.8% of the country’s population, is disadvantaged in areas such as health and housing due to their lack of mention in the constitution. Supporters of a proposal to add an Indigenous voice to the constitution believe it would help reconcile the country, but opponents have called it divisive and ineffective. Only eight of the 44 referendums held in Australia since 1901 have successfully passed, marking the first referendum since voters rejected a republic proposal almost a quarter of a century ago.
The vote on Saturday may also have implications for misinformation in Australia, as a large campaign had spread through social media, sparked fears that the Indigenous Voice to Parliament would become a third chamber of parliament and provide Aboriginal people more federal funding. The prime minister criticized media for stewarding the referendum debate away from core issues.