A new poll has shown that less than half of Australian voters support the inclusion of an Indigenous advisory body, known as the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, in the constitution.
The survey, conducted by Newspoll, revealed that approximately 43 per cent of respondents would vote in favour of establishing the advisory body, while 47 per cent would vote against it. The remaining 11 per cent were either undecided or unaware of the issue.
The proposed referendum, which is scheduled to take place later this year, aims to address the historical marginalisation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who comprise about 3.2 per cent of Australia’s population.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s government has been a staunch supporter of the referendum, emphasising its significance for reconciliation and inclusivity.
Despite the poll results, the Prime Minister has reaffirmed his commitment to proceeding with the referendum, dismissing suggestions to abandon it if the prospects of success become uncertain.
“It’s always easier in a referendum to put a ‘no’ argument out there, and that’s why the success rate is something like eight out of 48 [referendums],” he told Sunrise on Monday.
“I’m very confident that Australians will embrace that opportunity to say ‘yes’ in the referendum in the last quarter of this year.”
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, however, has called for the government to reconsider the referendum in the event of negative polling results, warning that the Voice campaign is a “catastrophic mistake”.
“It’s going to be lost, in my judgement, and on all of the evidence we see at the moment,” he told the ABC.
“In the best case scenario for the ‘yes’ case, it’ll be 51-49, which means in effect that our country will be split down the middle.
“Our Prime Minister is making a decision at the moment which is dividing our country, not uniting our country.”
Dutton has also claimed that the government’s current approach to campaigning for the Voice is the reason why the referendum will fail.
“I think the Prime Minister has made a catastrophic mistake here in starving detail from the Australian public,” he said.
“I think there are millions of Australians who just want to know what they’re being asked to vote for.”
The referendum legislation recently passed the first hurdle in the House of Representatives, marking a significant step forward.
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This latest poll is the first to gauge voters’ opinions on the question that will be posed during the referendum.
The outcome of the referendum, expected between October and December, will determine whether the Indigenous advisory body should be in the constitution.
With the referendum looming and opinions remaining divided, both sides of the Indigenous Voice referendum continue to vigorously campaign for their respective positions as Australians face the critical decision that will shape the country’s path toward reconciliation and inclusivity.