Following last night’s Voice referendum defeat, senior Labor and Liberal politicians have pointed fingers at each other for an acrimonious and damaging campaign that has left many Indigenous activists in grief.
Australians in every state have voted overwhelmingly to reject a proposal to recognize Indigenous people in the constitution through an advisory body made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which would have been known as the Voices to Parliament.
Speaking after the result last night, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the referendum had failed due to a loss of bipartisanship, as no referendum in Australia had ever succeeded without bipartisan support.
Health Minister Mark Butler added to this this morning, when he told Sky News that Liberal Leader Peter Dutton had given indications of support to The Voice when he nominated long-time advocate Julian Leeser of Voice, to the post of shadow attorney general.
But he said the Liberal Party had opposed The Voice after suffering a beating at the ballot box.
“A significant change of course was implemented by Peter Dutton at the end of March and beginning of April after these two very big electoral defeats for the Liberal Party, first at the state level of New South Wales, then in Aston by – elections,” he said.
“And then I think it became very difficult for us to win a referendum against all historical precedent.”
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles told ABC Insiders the government “did its best” but would still honor its election commitment even if bipartisanship was lost.
“Did we understand that it was more difficult? Of course we understood that, but we didn’t go into the election saying we would take this to the Australian people as long as Peter Dutton agreed,” he said. he declared.
Mr Marles added that while the government would take responsibility, the outcome would not be a vote against reconciliation or closing the gap in outcomes for Indigenous people.
“That’s where we need to focus now,” he said.
“The Australian people have asked us to do things a different way, we hear that and we will do it.”
Former Labor strategist and pollster Kos Samaras said Labor must accept the result will not be split between the parties.
“The result will be difficult for many to accept. However, the first group that needs to understand this result is the Labor Party,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Not all, but a significant number of outer suburban Labor voters voted against Labour’s formal position on this subject. When a political party’s base turns away on an issue, then they are inclined to do the same in the future.”
The sad Yes camp takes a week of silence and reflects on the painful referendum
Several Yes activists decided to remain silent during a week of mourning and reflection on a campaign they described as full of misinformation.
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Poll results from late last year showed general support for The Voice, but this steadily declined over the following months as the Nationals and later the Liberal Party decided to go with it. formally oppose.
The federal Greens have called for a $250 million “Truth and Justice Commission” to tell the truth and heal, accusing Mr Dutton of sowing “fear and division”.
Shadow Attorney General Michaelia Cash has denied her party is responsible for the vitriolic referendum.
“At every stage of the process, Peter Dutton and the Liberal Party have behaved in an appropriate and thoughtful manner,” said Senator Cash.
Instead, Senator Cash said Mr Albanese must take responsibility for the campaign, saying she and other Coalition politicians had warned against such a campaign.
“This was a referendum that Mr. Albanese was not obliged to hold,” Senator Cash said.
Liberal MP Julian Leeser, who left the attorney general’s shadow portfolio to campaign for The Voice, said he did not blame his party leader Mr Dutton for the loss, and that both sides had said “bad things”.
Mr Leeser said the camps must now take stock and reach out to those who are suffering.
“We need to reach out to our Indigenous friends and colleagues and hear from them, because many of them will feel the consequences,” he said.
“Secondly, we need to think about what the actual result means, and we need to be slow to move to the next phase or the next referendum… and the third thing we need to do is reaffirm our commitment to the reconciliation process .”
Warren Mundine, a leading No campaigner, said he knew the pain of defeat and would not celebrate the referendum result.
“(Yes, activists) have been talking about a week of silence and that’s probably a good idea, so people understand all of this,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we live in a democracy, and I’ve been a loser many times, and you’ve put your passion and your heart and your soul into all of these things, and so I can understand the pain.”