A collection of "Vote Yes" signs outside a polling place.

Voters Overwhelmingly Refuse To Give Indigenous Australians a Voice in Parliament

On October 14, 57% of Australian voters rejected the country’s proposed Indigenous Voice referendum. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice (known as the Voice) intended to create a panel that could advise Parliament and the Executive Government on matters relating to Indigenous peoples. The members of the panel would not have been appointed by the Executive Government, and would be selected by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities instead. Many were disappointed and heartbroken over the results.

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Australia is noted to be the only Commonwealth country that has no signed treaty with its Indigenous people. The now-rejected referendum would have made communication and discussions between the government and indigenous people easier, despite the lack of a treaty between the two parties.

Far-right politicians like Senator Malcolm Roberts celebrated what they saw as “Australia vot[ing] against feelings-based governance,” saying it’s “time to dismantle the Canberra Aboriginal Industry.” It’s clear there was a lot of misinformation (or at best, a lack of information) around this referendum.

According to the BBC, there was a general belief among many voters that it would give the Indigenous people of Australia “more rights” than other Australians. The New York Times wrote that “it had given rise to unrealistic fears — like of homeowners being forced to return their land to Indigenous people — that galvanized opposition to the Voice.” Some have written the referendum off as being the product of “white guilt”—erasing Indigenous people from the conversation entirely.

In reality, the referendum was constructed by 250 Indigenous leaders who conferred in Uluru and discussed how they wanted their people to be represented in parliament, which led to the formation of the Voice.

The rejection of the referendum is a huge blow to the country’s Indigenous population, who, as ABC News Australia put it, are feeling “an underlying sense of hurt and pain” since the vote denying them a voice in the country’s country’s political system.

(featured image: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

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Vanessa Esguerra
Vanessa Esguerra (She/They) has been a Contributing Writer for The Mary Sue since 2023. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy, she (happily) rejected law school in 2021 and has been a full-time content writer since. Vanessa is currently taking her Master's degree in Japanese Studies in hopes of deepening her understanding of the country's media culture in relation to pop culture, women, and queer people like herself. She speaks three languages but still manages to get lost in the subways of Tokyo with her clunky Japanese. Fueled by iced coffee brewed from local cafés in Metro Manila, she also regularly covers anime and video games while queuing for her next match in League of Legends.