Australia: Indigenous 'Voice' Referendum to Be Held Next Year

On Wednesday, while speaking at the Woodford Folk Festival, Australian PM Anthony Albanese confirmed plans to legislate the Indigenous Voice to Parliament early in 2023 and hold a referendum on it by next Christmas.

Australia: Indigenous 'Voice' Referendum to Be Held Next Year
Image credit: Jono Searle/AAP [via The Guardian]

Facts

  • On Wednesday, while speaking at the Woodford Folk Festival, Australian PM Anthony Albanese confirmed plans to legislate the Indigenous Voice to Parliament early in 2023 and hold a referendum on it by next Christmas.
  • The timeline for this referendum comes as Albanese's government has been committed to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice in the Australian constitution.
  • Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney added at the same event that the referendum proposal wraps up decades of expert research, dialogue, and deliberation to ensure First Nations are heard on policies that affect them.
  • Shadow minister Julian Leeser reacted by saying the government shouldn't be attending a music festival but rather engaging in significant consultation and collaboration as he added that its failure to provide details on the design and powers of the proposed body would "turbo-charge a no campaign."
  • Though a majority of voters told Freshwater Strategy pollsters in mid-December that they need more information to make an informed decision, half of Australians reportedly support an Indigenous Voice in the federal parliament, and some two-thirds of the 23% who are undecided are leaning to support it as well.
  • Indigenous Australians, who make up around 2% of the country's 26M population, aren't currently mentioned in the 1901 constitution and reportedly face educational, health, income, and social inequalities.

Sources: Daily Mail, Niaa, Guardian, Sky News, AFR, and Al Jazeera.

Narratives

  • Right narrative, as provided by Sky News. Driven by white guilt, Albanese's government has been promoting the elitist Indigenous Voice proposal as if the 250 un-elected activists who signed the 2017 Uluru Statement were the legitimate representatives of all Aboriginal Australians. Creating this parallel entity won't actually solve any of their day-to-day issues but rather divide the nation by race.
  • Left narrative, as provided by SBS. The establishment of the proposed Indigenous Voice to parliament is a necessary step to protect the interests of affected communities as it will enhance democracy by allowing Aboriginal Australians to choose their own representatives. If politicians are left to select the Indigenous representatives to which they listen, regression in Indigenous affairs will only continue.

Predictions