Yes23 supporters at the Redfern Community Centre in Sydney
Activists gather with Indigenous people at The Block, Redfern's Aboriginal social housing block. Image by Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics

Campaign efforts go into overdrive as voice vote looms

October 9, 2023

Campaign efforts are accelerating in the race to referendum day for the Indigenous voice, with one in eight votes still up for grabs.

Coming from behind and with every major poll favouring a ‘no’ result, the ‘yes’ movement has hit the ground running in the final week of the campaign.

Activists gathered with First Nations people at The Block, Redfern’s Aboriginal social housing block in Sydney’s inner city.

Redfern community member Shane Phillips said the area, once-rife with crime, had rebuilt itself and hoped voters empower other indigenous groups to do that in their own communities.

Get Ready Queensland Ambassador Johnathan Thurston at Suncorp Stadium
People would vote yes if they knew what Indigenous youth had to deal with, Johnathan Thurston says.

“We were a community that was downtrodden and imploding from the scars of dispossession,” he said.

“But we empowered ourselves, we found the solution – it was within us.

“We made sure that we took the responsibility back and that is all this voice is about for us.”

Rugby league legend Johnathan Thurston also offered his endorsement and cited his community work with First Nations people.

“If you have seen the conditions that our young people go through … in our Indigenous communities, then you would be voting yes,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

“I am extremely proud of my culture, I know my family history, I know what our culture has endured.

“We are fighters, we are survivors and our young people now will hopefully be the beneficiary of what the nation votes on Saturday.”

Peter Dutton
Peter Dutton says there is no evidence to support the introduction of a voice to parliament.

But prominent ‘no’ proponents including Opposition Leader Peter Dutton say the voice would needlessly change the constitution without necessarily improving outcomes for Indigenous people.

“Our party wants practical outcomes, improvements for indigenous people on the ground, but we don’t want to put at risk what is a system that is the envy of the world,” he told reporters in Tasmania.

“There is no evidence to support it, it is a very broad set of words open to interpretation.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese maintains there is still hope of the voice getting up.

“We have five days in which Australians can have a look at what the question is – the constitutional change is very clear,” he told Nine’s Today program on Monday.

“There will be a body that may give advice on matters affecting Indigenous Australians and the parliament remains supreme.

“For the parliament and government, the decision-making process doesn’t change but you get better outcomes if it’s an informed decision.”

A Resolve poll conducted for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age alongside the Newspoll survey shows the ‘no’ campaign is still ahead, though one shows a slight uptick in support for ‘yes’.

But about one in eight people remain undecided days out from polling day on Saturday.

Mr Albanese has warned it will be his last shot, saying the government will not try to establish the voice if the referendum fails.

More than 2.2 million people have cast their ballot while a further 1.9 million applied for a postal vote.