referendum result

Ten Reasons All Australians Can Rejoice at the Voice Referendum Result

18 October 2023

9.5 MINS

The Yes campaign and the corporate media might be in mourning, but in truth, the referendum result is a win for all Australians. Here’s why.

The result of the weekend’s referendum was known within an hour or so of polls closing. Australians emphatically voted against constitutionally enshrining an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

Nationally, just 39.3 per cent affirmed the proposition, while a whopping 60.7 per cent made known their disapproval. Every state rejected it, along with the Northern Territory, home to the highest proportion of Indigenous residents in the nation.

The result was as definitive as the opinion polls had suggested. Once postal votes are accounted for, the No vote will likely swell some more.

The referendum debate subjected Australians to months of bickering and division. With some campaigners cynically framing the debate as a de facto empathy test or a vote on the value of Indigenous lives, the referendum took an especially heavy toll on many Aboriginal Australians.

However, as the dust settles on Saturday’s result, what are the positives all Australians can take away from our nation’s 45th referendum?

1. Indigenous Equality Reaffirmed

In 1967, over 90 per cent of Australians voted in favour of including Indigenous people in the census and empowering the federal government to legislate for Aboriginal people. That referendum took place in a decade that saw the full political equality of Aboriginal Australians affirmed, including their right to vote and stand for political office.

Almost 60 years later, Australians were effectively asked if Indigenous Australians should receive unequal political rights via a permanent race-based advisory body in Canberra. Their resounding rejection of the 2023 proposal was a conspicuous reaffirmation of the 1967 referendum.

Thus, for more than five decades, our nation’s body politic has maintained remarkable consistency in its belief in the fundamental equality of all Australians, regardless of race. Put another way, the majority of the nation believes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians do not need to be pandered or condescended to for the simple reason that they are already our equals.

2. National Unity Fortified

While the referendum debate was deeply divisive, the eventual outcome was clear and resounding. A hefty majority of Australians agree that there are far more constructive ways to address Indigenous disadvantage than the one recently offered.

Note that a constitutionally-enshrined advisory body in Canberra was not the only thing rejected on Saturday. The Uluru Statement from the Heart — the political manifesto behind the Voice — imagined two Australian sovereignties in competition.

“The invasion that started at Botany Bay is the origin of the fundamental grievance between the old and new Australians,” the document argued. “Our sovereignty preexisted the Australian state and has survived it.”

Two competing Australias, divided along ethnic lines, perpetually battling for the upper hand in Canberra? It was a recipe for an ugly but permanent national division. Whether or not most voters were aware of the Uluru Statement’s more radical aims, they have repudiated it — and future generations will thank them.

3. Identity Politics Rejected

Over the last decade, we have seen a concerted effort from many quarters to reduce people to their physical attributes, and reward or hinder them accordingly.

Identity politics is a reductionistic way of viewing the world, and an anaemic way of viewing our fellow human travellers, who are made in God’s image as one-of-a-kind individuals.

Cultural Marxism has taken this a step further, using race to categorise people as “oppressed” and “oppressor”. Western Marxists have been very successful at weaponising Indigenous people against Western institutions which — ironically — have been uniquely successful at protecting their dignity and equality in law.

It is a credit to voters and a blessing for Australia that such a strong majority have resisted this cynical ploy, choosing to view Indigenous Australians as individuals, not avatars of a political cause.

4. Elitism Rebuked

As so well stated by the Daily Declaration’s James Macpherson, the Voice referendum was a tale of two territories. The jurisdiction most representative of the national mood was the Northern Territory, whose vote total almost perfectly mirrored the nationwide result. The NT is home to the highest percentage of Indigenous Australians, with almost a third of the state’s population identifying as such.

Indeed, according to an analysis by Sky News, the five electorates with the largest Indigenous populations — each of them far-flung rural seats away from Australia’s east coast — all voted No, and by an average of 71 per cent.

At the other end of the spectrum was the Australian Capital Territory, which was the only jurisdiction in the country to carry the Yes vote, but whose population is not even 2 per cent Indigenous.

Canberra’s result was likewise reflective of a national pattern: Only 27 of Australia’s 151 electorates supported the constitutional amendment, every one of them clustered around the nation’s wealthiest cities, far away from where Indigenous disadvantage is most palpably felt. It was not a good look for a campaign parading itself as a grassroots movement and a “voice for the voiceless”.

If nothing else, the weekend’s result was a sharp rebuke for an elite class sorely out of touch with ordinary Australians but with its hands closest to the levers of power. The elite class might not like it, but a nation known for its egalitarianism has just reasserted that commitment in spectacular fashion.

5. Corporate Meddling Ignored

In recent years, Western democracy has being subverted by powerful corporations and other entities that now routinely put their finger on the scales of political contests that were designed to be decided by individual citizens alone.

It is part of a trend that cultural commentator Carl Trueman dubs “the abolition of the prepolitical” — or more simply, the politicisation of everything.

We saw this trend play out in the referendum debate as big businesses, universities, banks, unions, mining giants, the UN, sporting bodies and sponsored celebrities united to weigh in with all the funds and persuasive power they could muster.

To their credit, Australians managed to resist overwhelming peer pressure from the top end of town — and instead, voted according to their sacred conscience, as they should have.

6. Democracy on Display

Related to the previous point, Saturday’s vote was a confidence booster for Australians who have grown wary of political bias even in institutions that are explicitly tasked with political neutrality.

It is difficult to deny that the Australian Electoral Commission has betrayed bias through its political persecution of Craig Kelly, applying standards it hardly cared to enforce against the Yes campaign. The ABC likewise provided extremely one-sided coverage of the Voice debate, as reported by the Daily Declaration.

While institutions like the AEC and the ABC are still in desperate need of reform, the fact that victory fell to the side they not-so-subtly disfavoured is a win for all Australians. At most, the No vote’s success may count as proof there is no entrenched institutional bias. At the very least, it suggests the Australian electorate is mature enough — and the electoral process robust enough — to counteract those headwinds.

It now behooves the losing side to quit their week of silence pouting; be honest that it was their particular proposal and not Indigenous Australians themselves that suffered rejection at the ballot box; raise their flags back to full staff, and respect the democratic process.

State premiers and governments are also on notice: if they push ahead with state-based voices, they likely do so in defiance of the will of their constituents.

7. ‘Misinformation’ Narrative Exposed

Every political battle represents a contest over truth. Inevitably, opposing sides will spin and bend the truth in their favour as they campaign for the hearts and minds of the voting public. What is electoral politics, if not this?

What sets the 2023 referendum apart is not its contest over truth, but the insistence of the losing side and its media allies that this contest represented a unique departure from norms, and deserves its own scary new label: ‘misinformation’.

Lamenting his team’s loss, Yes23 campaign chief Dean Parkin blamed the outcome on the “single largest misinformation campaign this country has ever seen”. The Guardian likewise dubbed Saturday’s result “the dark victory of misinformation”, while the ABC whined that “the Voice campaign was infected with disinformation”.

Among their collective complaints were ideas barely heard beyond the fringes of social media: that the AEC was using pencils and postal votes to rig the referendum; that the Constitution has been invalid since 1973, making the referendum also invalid; or that the Voice will mean Australians lose ownership of their homes.

Even if some Australians were taken in by such outlandish claims, they were hardly the reason the Yes camp squandered its starting position of almost 70 per cent national support.

More concerning is that pro-Voice media activists have smeared even the genuine concerns of Australians as ‘misinformation’.

On the Guardian’s “seven biggest pieces of misinformation” list, for instance, is that “the voice will divide the nation” and “the voice is legally risky”. In fact, the Voice did divide the nation and, if adopted, would undoubtedly have divided it further. Likewise, any government advisory body invested with significant powers but poorly defined parameters is, by definition, legally risky.

So ‘misinformation’ is any fact inconvenient to the powers that be?

Indeed, if ‘misinformation’ is the new game to play every time we go to the ballot box, both sides can play it.

In that vein, some of the biggest furphies came from the Yes camp. As admitted by its own authors, the Uluru Statement from the Heart was more than one page, despite every protestation of the Prime Minister. The architects of the Voice did hope it would pave the path to Treaty. Some of its key campaigners were Communist sympathisers who did not view the Voice as a “modest proposal”. And to set straight the biggest fib of all: it is simply not true that Indigenous Australians have no voice apart from ‘The Voice’.

Each of these Yes campaign claims were not isolated to the fringes of social media: they were central to its message. And according the rules of this new game, they were straight-up disinformation.

The majority of Australians evidently saw through that game, proving they are not so easily manipulated — and that is something worth rejoicing over.

8. Woke Gaslighting Dismissed

Another form of manipulation shrugged off by Australia’s voting public was the gaslighting of woke activists.

Former TV great Ray Martin disgraced his legacy by calling No voters “dinosaurs” and “d*ckheads”. Voice co-designer Marcia Langton claimed the No case relied on “base racism” or “just sheer stupidity”. Leading Yes campaigner Noel Pearson told immigrant Australians they were “the wrong colour” to be siding with “the mob from the UK”.

Each of these ugly remarks were a sad but accurate reflection of how No voters were viewed by the establishment: as moral inferiors, ignorant fools, vile racists.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle No voters overcame on the weekend was not cultural fashion, the opinions of elites, media bias or corporate largesse — but woke gaslighting.

Over 60 per cent of Australians were effectively told they were racists for voting No. They scorned the hollow accusation and voted No anyway. It was a historic rejection of wokeism — one that will doubtless pay dividends in future national debates.

9. New Leadership Raised Up

All political campaigns provide opportunities for new leaders to step up, and this was true on both sides of the referendum debate.

The most stand-out leader of either side was surely Northern Territory Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, whose most impressive display was her National Press Club address last month.

It was not just her words but the facts of her life that made Senator Price’s No case so compelling. Were the Voice enacted, her family would have been split down the middle, with constitutional favouritism elevating Price’s Warlpiri mother and children above her Caucasian father and husband.

Senator Price’s mixed heritage exposed the weak logic of the Yes campaign at every turn. Asked if “generational trauma” was to blame for Indigenous disadvantage today, Price quipped that she should be “doubly suffering” since her Celtic ancestors came to Australia as chained-up convicts. Asked if she supports blood tests to prove Indigenous heritage and stop fake claimers, she changed the subject, arguing, “If we actually chose to serve Australians on the basis of need and not race, those opportunists would disappear quick smart”.

So impressive was her performance throughout the campaign that large swathes of the No campaign have issued calls for Senator Price to become Australia’s next Prime Minister, as reported by the Daily Mail.

While that prospect involves a number of technical hurdles, Price has not dismissed the possibility.

In theory at least, a Prime Minister Jacinta Nampijinpa Price would be unifying figure for the nation — pleasing the Left as Australia’s first female Indigenous PM, and the right with her brand of courageous conservatism, irrespective of her sex or race.

Of course, whether or not events play out in such a way remains to be seen.

10. A Stronger Cure Demanded

Sore Yes campaigners might want to spin the Voice’s failure as a lack of compassion for Indigenous Australians, but the truth is actually much brighter.

In a comprehensive ANU poll, 86 per cent of Australians said that Indigenous social disadvantage was important to them, 81 per cent valued Indigenous self-determination, and 78 per cent supported Constitutional recognition.

Clearly, Saturday’s result was no commentary on whether Australians care about Indigenous issues, but rather, a rejection of Labor’s ill-defined Voice as the best way to address those issues. Viewed without a cynical bias, this weekend’s No makes way for a better Yes. 

In fact, were the referendum successful, too many Australians might have assumed their Yes vote largely addressed Indigenous rights and absolved them of further responsibilities. On the contrary, months of campaigning has exposed all Australians to the serious challenges faced in remote Indigenous communities, and the No result underscores that a stronger cure is required than just a visit to the ballot box.

Some Australians — both Yes and No voters — will now shrug their shoulders and move on. However, many are awake to Indigenous issues like never before.

There is an appetite for an audit of the billions of dollars being spent on programs for Indigenous Australians that keep failing to close the gap. Frontbenchers are calling on companies that gave to the Yes campaign to give the same amount to organisations supporting victims of domestic violence. The Senate is considering a Royal Commission into the sexual abuse of Aboriginal children. Deeper questions are being asked about endemic issues in remote communities that welfare alone can’t solve — issues like joblessness, suicide and social breakdown.

These are uncomfortable topics, but they are now the concern of more Australians than ever — and with no quick fix that permits the country to just continue on its merry way.

This is another reason all Australians can rejoice at the Voice referendum result.

Are there any other reasons not mentioned in this list? Let us know in the comments section.

Image via Unsplash.

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5 Comments

  1. Countess Antonia Maria Violetta Scrivanich 18 October 2023 at 10:58 am - Reply

    Albanese + co are not in mourning , but, busy with their 2 pet projects: –Censorship via the Misinformation + Disinformation Bill and a referendum in, or after , 2025 to abolish the monarchy if they are re- elected . I will vote “No” because ,although I loathe the monarchy , I see a new Constitution will inevitably , in time, destroy our Democracy —read Orwell’s “Animal Farm “. Milovan Dgilas, who fought in WW2 to establish the Communist government of Yugoslavia and was touted to succeed as Ruler ( he was the Deputy ) wrote numerous books denouncing Communism, eg the book “The New Class “which exposed the corruption of the Communist elites who lived a life of great luxury, whilst the rest of the population suffered deprivation ,were not allowed to criticise the government or vote for any other Party but the Communist Party ! Dgilas served 3 lengthy jail sentences ( Dictator Tito was too scared to execute him ) for writing books exposing the corruption of the Communist elites , If he had kept his mouth shut , he would have continued to live in luxury and become the next Ruler of Yugoslavia , but, he was a man of integrity . See any parallels ? Is this what we want for Australia — the death of our Constitution and of Democracy ? Be vigilant ! Get ready now as every day the ABC (in particular Patricia Karavelas ) bombards us with nothing but Propaganda.

  2. Judy 18 October 2023 at 11:10 am - Reply

    Thanks Kurt this is comprehensive and very helpful

  3. Countess Antonia Maria Violetta Scrivanich 18 October 2023 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    How can any Church, which purports to be “Christian “,support or turn a blind eye to pagan Aboriginal beliefs eg that The Great Snake and others created man ? These beliefs are forbidden as Idolatry by The Old Testament ( the Golden Calf), The 10 Commandments (“Thou shalt not worship any God but Me ” ), and Jesus. Sorcery , “Pointing the Bone ” and curses all contradict God’s teachings of ‘Love they neighbour “. If they want some credibility, the Churches should oppose Paganism . No wonder the vast majority of people no longer respect them or attend services !

  4. Bill Hall 18 October 2023 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    I see the that we need regional solutions to indigenous disadvantage, not a Canberra centric one. A possibility is to create offices for Indigenous well being in each federal electorate that has a significant indigenous population. What represents significant would need to be determined. Each of these offices would have the responsibility to consult with the indigenous people and determine the support services, housing needs, education needs and employment projects needed within the electorate and then be funded accordingly. Often cooperation with neighbouring electorates would be valuable. These offices would be financed from the 40 billion dollars annually allocated to indigenous services. There would only need to be a small bureaucracy in Canberra to facilitate the distribution of funds and perform an audit function .

    What do you think?

  5. Stan Beattie 18 October 2023 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    My experience living and working in Remote indigenous communities is that the current welfare system severely restricts the incentive to learn, or gain an education and also the incentive to work . One community I was in recently have 5 generations that have never had a job, and yet when paid work( agricultural) is available the people do not take up the work. This culture in the community is actually killing them. No doing any work, chronic poor diet, and victim hood mentality so the Gov must support us has proven to be not the solution.
    We need a hundred leaders in community like Jacinta N Price

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