Australians are poised to reject an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory body to parliament with five days left until voting day, polls show, amid concern that a “no” vote will set back the cause of reconciliation with the nation’s original inhabitants.
(Bloomberg) — Australians are poised to reject an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory body to parliament with five days left until voting day, polls show, amid concern that a “no” vote will set back the cause of reconciliation with the nation’s original inhabitants.
Just 34% of respondents support the Voice to Parliament, while 58% said they would vote against it at the Oct. 14 referendum, a Newspoll in The Australian newspaper on Monday showed.
Still, there were slight grounds for optimism in the “yes” campaign, with a poll by Resolve published in Nine newspapers showing a small uptick in support to 44% from 43%. The “no” campaign was still well in front at 56%.
If approved, the referendum would write an Indigenous advisory body to Parliament into Australia’s constitution. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he wouldn’t try to legislate the Voice if it was rejected at the referendum, in an interview with Australian Broadcasting Corp. television on Sunday.
But Albanese did say he was concerned a “no” result would set back attempts to improve relations between Australia and its Indigenous population.
“This is a hand out from the first Australians asking non-Indigenous Australia just to join with them in something that is a very modest request,” he said. “After 122 years, that is not too much to ask.”
The Voice to Parliament was proposed by a group of Indigenous elders following a gathering in 2017, which was picked up by Albanese ahead of his 2022 election win.
The prime minister said he wanted the referendum to be a moment of unity for Australia, but instead it has become a heated and divisive campaign. Indigenous Australians have reported a rise in racist language and harassment directed at their people over the course of the campaign.
Polls show Australians are turning against the Voice proposal over concerns the advisory body would divide the country and confusion over how it would work.
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