A new poll has found that less than half of the country intends to vote ‘yes’ to the referendum on the indigenous vote in parliament.
The Newspoll data showed that only 46 percent of eligible Australians support Anthony Albanese’s signature policy, while 43 percent oppose it.
The remaining 11 percent said they were unsure whether they would support it or not.
It is a worrying sign for the Prime Minister’s ‘yes’ campaign, after previous polls suggested a higher level of support – over 50 per cent.
But the government has claimed all signs still point to the referendum succeeding – opening the door to establishing an Indigenous advisory body to parliament and enshrining First Nations People in the constitution.
The poll, conducted for The Australianis the first to ask voters exactly the question that will be put at the ballot box during the referendum in the second half of this year.
The Newspoll data showed that only 46 percent of eligible Australians support Anthony Albanese’s signature policy (pictured with partner Jodie Haydon), while 43 percent oppose it
The cabinet is still ‘optimistic’ that the referendum on the Vote for Parliament will succeed. Pictured: Invasion Day protest in Sydney, 2023
Women, young Australians and those living in the city with a university degree are more likely to vote yes, the results show.
Men are slightly more likely to vote no, while people over 50, along with non-university-educated Australians and those living in regional areas, reported the greatest opposition to yes votes.
Looking at political parties, 63 per cent of Coalition voters intend to vote against introducing an Indigenous vote, while just over 75 per cent of Labor voters support it.
But the government ultimately hopes that the support of young people will be enough to win the majority of voters in most of the states it needs to succeed.
“That young cohort will be enough to counter the ‘no’ vote and I think it will be the young people who will be the indigenous voice for Australia,” cabinet minister Don Farrell told the National Press Club on Thursday.
“If it (referendum) were held this Saturday, I think it would stand up.
“The majority of Australians voted for it and there would be a majority of states.”
Senator Farrell said he was still “optimistic” about the referendum on the Voice to Parliament.
“We tried the republic, it didn’t work, so I think the vote is the right one,” he said.
“There are no other people in our community who are as disadvantaged as Indigenous Australians, and it’s time we recognized them in our Constitution.”
The poll is a worrying sign for the Prime Minister’s ‘yes’ campaign, after previous polls suggested a higher level of support – over 50 per cent
Meanwhile, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association have supported the proposed constitutional amendment.
The Indigenous vote would lead to an important step forward and would also result in better mental health outcomes, the college said in a statement.
“We are acutely aware of the trauma inflicted on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as a result of the continued impact of colonisation, dispossession and systemic racism and inequality,” it added.
Donna Burns, CEO of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, said the vote would improve the wellbeing of Indigenous people.
“The data overwhelmingly demonstrate that an unacceptable health gap persists as a result of the health inequality experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” she said.
“AIDA’s position is based on our vision to rectify the persisting health inequalities that disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.”
Laws to set up the referendum on indigenous voting were passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The bill, which will finalize the referendum issue and constitutional amendments to be submitted to the public, now moves to the Senate.
It is expected to be passed by the federal parliament later this month, with the referendum to be held between October and December.
Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney urged people who didn’t know much about the vote to think about the inequality people face before making a decision.
“I would say to those people…look into your heart and look at the situation the Aboriginal people are in in this country,” she said.
What is the Voice?
An elected body of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals who would provide advice to the federal government.
Only Australians of Indigenous descent would be able to determine the representatives.
To come about, a referendum would be held and would require a majority vote in a majority of states.
Unlike the old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission – formally abolished in 2005 with bipartisan support – the Voice would be enshrined in the Constitution.
While parliament would determine the composition of the vote, it would not have the power to abolish it without taking the issue to another referendum.
The Voice would advise the cabinet and executive government on legislation, particularly bills affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
The 2017 Uluru Declaration from the Heart – based on input from 250 Aboriginal leaders – called for the “establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.”
The final report of the Indigenous Voice Co-design Process was presented to the government of former Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison in 2021.
It was co-authored by Tom Calma, a human rights activist, and Marcia Langton, an academic.