Australia’s failed referendum on the Indigenous Voice has halted the government’s plans to cut the nation’s constitutional ties to Britain’s King Charles III. The referendum would have established an Indigenous advisory body to Parliament.
The loss has reduced the chances of another referendum to make Australia a republic with an Australian president as head of state. Assistant Minister for the Republic Matt Thistlethwaite said the loss makes it harder to consider further referendums in the short term.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese prioritized the Voice referendum for his centre-left Labor Party government’s first three-year term, placing Thistlethwaite in charge of paving the way towards a republic. Queen Elizabeth II’s death last year has also sparked Australians’ desire for constitutional change to a republic.
The Voice referendum in Australia marked the first in a generation, with no referendum since 1977. The result sparked a backlash against Indigenous rights in two states with the strongest “no” votes. In Queensland, where opposition to the Voice was strongest, the state opposition party reneged on a commitment to support a treaty between the state and Indigenous residents, fearing it would create further division.
Australia and Queensland have been embroiled in a divisive debate over the past six months, with South Australia having the second-strongest “no” vote. The state will become Australia’s first to introduce a state-based Indigenous Voice next year.
Lawmaker Sarah Game, representing the minor One Nation party, introduced a bill to repeal the legislation that created the state Voice, aiming to acknowledge the way Australians, particularly South Australians, have voted. The game emphasized the need to address disadvantaged groups without causing a divide on race and ancestry.