Saturday, April 13, 2024

Australia says NO to indigenous voice to Parliament

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA

A referendum proposing to change Australia’s constitution and create an enshrined body called an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice has failed.

Following a day of voting on Saturday, the Australian public returned a majority ‘NO’ result nationally – with every state returning a ‘NO’ majority.

In a statement yesterday, the PM said he respected the decision of the Australian people and the process which had delivered it.

“When we reflect on everything happening in the world today, we can all give thanks that here in Australia we make the big decisions peacefully and as equals, with one vote, one value,” he said.

“And I say to the millions of Australians all over our great country who voted Yes with hope and goodwill, the people who volunteered with such energy and enthusiasm, many of whom were taking part in their first-ever campaign, that just as the Uluru Statement from the Heart was an invitation extended with humility, grace and optimism for the future, tonight we must meet this result with the same grace and humility. And tomorrow, we must seek a new way forward with the same optimism.”

On election night in May last year, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his government was committed to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full – being Voice, Treaty and Truth.

“I gave my word to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and elders who had poured their hopes and aspirations into that extraordinary statement. I spoke to the people from all walks of life and all sides of politics, the people of every faith and background and tradition, who had embraced this cause. I promised our Government would seek to answer the generous and gracious call of those 440 powerful words through a Voice, recognition, enshrined in the Constitution.”

“I never imagined or indeed said that it would be easy. Very few things in public life worth doing are. Nor could I guarantee the referendum would succeed. History told us that only eight out of 44 had done so. What I could promise was that we would go all in, that we would try. And we have.

“We have given Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the fulfilment of their request that we take forward an idea that had been decades in the making, and we would give the Australian people the opportunity to decide for themselves. We have kept that promise. We have given our all. We argued for this change not out of convenience but from conviction, because that’s what people deserve from their Government. And of course, when you do the hard things, when you aim high, sometimes you fall short. And tonight, we acknowledge, understand and respect that we have,” the Prime Minister said.

Mr Albanese said he accepted responsibility for the decision to take the Voice to a public referendum.

“I want Australians to know that I will always be ambitious for our country, ambitious for us to be the very best version of ourselves. I will always be optimistic for what we can achieve together. In that spirit, just as I offered many times to co-operate with people from across the political spectrum on the next steps in the event of a Yes victory, I renew that offer of cooperation tonight. Because this moment of disagreement does not define us. And it will not divide us. We are not Yes voters or No voters. We are all Australians. And it is as Australians, together, that we must take our country beyond this debate without forgetting why we had it in the first place.”

“…I will always stand up for my beliefs. It’s now up to all of us to come together and find a different way to the same reconciled destination. I am optimistic that we can. And indeed, that we must. There is a new national awareness of these questions. Let us channel that into a new sense of national purpose to find the answers. The proposition we advanced at this referendum was about listening to people in order to get better outcomes, and these principles are what will continue to guide me as Australia’s 31st Prime Minister.”

He said the government would continue to seek better outcomes for Indigenous Australians and their children and the generations to come.

“This is not only in the interests of Indigenous Australians. It is in the interest of all Australians to build a better future for our nation.”

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