More than 1,000 people gathered at an event in Perth to hear No campaign leaders warn against complacency ahead of the referendum on an Indigenous voice in Parliament.
- No campaign supporters at the event were informed that their battle was “not over.”
- It was an upbeat affair, with plenty of encouragement for campaign leaders
- A small group of protesters gathered outside the rally venue in Perth
With polling stations already open for early voting and less than a fortnight until referendum day, Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Nyunggai Warren Mundine were greeted like rock stars at Monday night’s event.
Addressing the crowd at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, Mr Mundine warned volunteers and activists in the No camp not to become complacent.
“The battle is not over yet, we still have to go out and fight every day,” he said.
The room was a sea of orange “No” posters, hats and T-shirts, which bore the slogan “Vote no to a voice of division.”
Senator Nampijinpa Price was greeted with a standing ovation when she addressed the audience.
“It’s such a pleasure to be back here in Western Australia in Perth, you absolutely bring it,” the Northern Territory Liberal Party senator said.
“I am filled with so much hope, my heart is filled with so much love for this country, love for the Australian people, love for the fact that we are reviving our Australian spirit.
“This vote is “no” to division but “yes” to the return of our beautiful Australian values.”
The couple appeared alongside the evening’s emcee, Matthew Sheahan, of conservative lobby group Advance Australia.
“Make no mistake, it’s going to be close,” Mr. Sheahan told the crowd.
“If we become complacent, if we don’t volunteer, if we don’t continue to talk to our family and friends about the dangers of the Voice, they can still steal it from us.
“And we cannot allow that to happen.”
Outside the hall, a small group of protesters gathered, mostly students from the Socialist Alternative.
Noongar Minang man and indigenous activist Mervyn Eades spoke at the protest and said Senator Nampijinpa Price was not welcome on Noongar land, before condemning comments she made at National Press Club last month.
In her speech to the Press Club, Senator Nampijinpa Price denied that First Nations Australians are currently experiencing the negative effects of colonization.
First Nations health professionals and people living with chronic health conditions said they were “disappointed” and “deeply saddened” by the comments.
Other protesters also targeted Senator Nampijinpa Price while chanting outside the venue.
The protesters were met by counter-protesters who were attending the event in Perth.
A number of police officers separated the two groups as they exchanged chants and insults.
A man was escorted away by police after attempting to enter the premises.
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