HomeWorldFragmented groups oppose Australia's Indigenous referendum, hindering progress.

Fragmented groups oppose Australia’s Indigenous referendum, hindering progress.

Australia’s Indigenous Referendum: Fragmented Forces Opposing the Proposal


Australia is gearing up for a significant referendum on October 14th. This referendum aims to determine whether to establish an Indigenous advisory body to parliament, as advocated by Indigenous leaders since 2017. The campaign on this constitutional change is decentralized, as it is unrelated to party politics. Let’s delve into the diverse groups opposing the proposal and the reasons behind their stance.

The Liberal-National Opposition

The conservative-leaning Liberal and National parties, which form a long-standing coalition, have campaigned against the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament. Their main concern is that it may create divisions based on race. However, it’s worth noting that some prominent figures within the parties, such as Liberal Tasmanian state Premier Jeremy Rockliff and former Liberal foreign minister Julie Bishop, have expressed support for the Voice.

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Advance Australia

Advance Australia, a conservative lobby group, positions itself as a counterweight to left-leaning advocacy groups. They have played an active role in recent elections, leveraging social media platforms to amplify anti-Voice content. Indigenous conservative senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has aligned herself with Advance Australia’s campaign against the proposal.

Right-Wing Populists

Some populist political parties, including Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, have voiced opposition to the Indigenous advisory body. They raise concerns about the potential increase in power for Indigenous leaders. Pauline Hanson, with her substantial following on Facebook, has made unsubstantiated claims that the Voice could lead to the creation of a separate Aboriginal state. Additionally, the sole senator for mining billionaire Clive Palmer’s “Palmer United Party” has labeled the Voice as “racist.”

Treaty Advocates

Opposition to the Voice also comes from Indigenous leaders who believe it compromises their goal of achieving a treaty. These leaders argue that the referendum’s outcome will impact the chances of successfully negotiating a treaty to end the occupation war that began with European arrival in 1788. Warren Mundine, a former Labor party president who is Indigenous, has campaigned against the Voice, stating that a ‘No’ result would improve the prospects of a treaty. Senator Lidia Thorpe, also Indigenous, left the left-wing Greens party due to its support for the Voice, expressing that the party hindered her advocacy for the “Black Sovereign Movement.”

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Australia’s Indigenous citizens, representing about 3.8% of the country’s 26 million population, have inhabited the land for approximately 60,000 years. Despite their significant historical presence, they are not currently mentioned in the country’s constitution and lag behind national averages on various socio-economic measures.

The upcoming referendum asks voters to provide a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ response to the proposed constitutional change. The opposing groups are not required to propose an alternative form of Indigenous representation; their objective is solely to convince voters not to support the current proposal. As Australia prepares for this crucial referendum, the nation awaits the outcome, which will undoubtedly shape the future of Indigenous representation in parliament.

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