Voice referendum date announced: Anthony Albanese confirms when Australians will vote – but not before a website glitch gave it away: PM gives damning verdict of what ‘No’ vote would mean
In an emotional speech to announce the date of the Voice referendum, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has urged Australians not to close the door on constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians, saying that a No vote ‘leads nowhere’.
The prime minister’s highly anticipated announcement of the date for the Voice referendum on Wednesday was partially spoiled by a glitch on the official campaign website, which seemingly confirmed the date before he took to the stage in Adelaide.
The first referendum in 24 years – to decide whether or not Australia should have a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous Voice to Parliament – will be held on October 14.
Ending months of speculation, Mr Albanese officially confirmed the date as the day when Aussies will head to polling booths across the nation – and warned of the consequences of a No vote in one of the most important speeches he has delivered as prime minister.
‘On that day, every Australian will have a once in a generation chance to bring our country together… And to change it for the better,’ Mr Albanese told the audience.
‘On October 14 you are not being asked to vote for a political party or a person. You’re being asked to say yes to an idea whose time has come,’ he continued, appearing almost tearful.
The Prime Minister was greeted with a standing ovation and raucous applause as he arrived in the packed auditorium.
Supporters packed every inch of the room, many holding placards and wearing Yes merchandise.
Mr Albanese guaranteed a Voice would save money in the long run by streamlining services and directing help exactly where it is needed in the community.
Heads were nodding in amongst the crowd throughout his speech as South Australians murmured words of encouragement and support.
The PM assured the public the question is ‘straightforward, unambiguous, clear’ in a rousing, passionately delivered speech to officially launch the campaign.
‘My fellow Australians, what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want for their children is what you want for yours,’ Mr Albanese said.
‘Staying healthy, doing well at school, finding a job they love, being safe and leading fulfilling lives. That’s what they are asking you to say yes to at this referendum. The same opportunity for their children to make a good life for themselves.’
‘Let’s be very clear about the alternative. Voting no means going nowhere. It closes the door on this opportunity to move forward. Don’t close the door on constitutional recognition… don’t close the door on the next generation of Indigenous Australians. Vote yes.’
The question will be: ‘A proposed law: to alter the constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?’
He was joined by prominent lawyer and advocate Noel Pearson, head of the Yes23 campaign Dean Parkin, Penny Wong, Linda Burney and South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas.
But an official campaign launch blitz is taking place nationwide, with Tanya Plibersek and Malcolm Turnbull leading the charge in Sydney, Bill Shorten and Greens’ Adam Bandt in Melbourne and Liberal MP Bridget Archer in Tasmania.
Despite her party’s opposition to the Voice, Ms Archer has been unwavering in her support of the proposal.
And in Canberra, Chief Minister Andrew Barr is handing out flyers with Independent David Pocock.
Minister Linda Burney said: ‘With three letters, every Australian has the power to make the greatest country on earth even better.
‘By voting Yes to listening, and voting Yes to better outcomes, Australia has nothing to lose and everything to gain.’
In order for a referendum to succeed it must win the majority of votes in a majority of states.
Only eight of 44 referendums have succeeded in Australia’s 122-year history – all with bipartisan support.
If a majority of Australians vote in favour of the Voice, the Constitution would be amended as follows:
1. There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
2. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
3. The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions powers and procedures.
It is an emotional day for supporters who have turned out to hear the announcement, with hundreds arriving on buses at the Playford Civic Centre in Elizabeth in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.
Mother and daughter Khatija and Maia were among the crowds queueing to pick up their passes to watch.
‘It’s an exciting day for democracy,’ Khatija told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I’m confident South Australians will vote Yes. It’s a day to celebrate.’
Khatija said it was particularly exciting that Mr Albanese had chosen Adelaide for the historic announcement.
‘We wanted to be here for it,’ she said.
Maia, wearing her school uniform, was less enthused than her mother but still cheery.
‘It’s a day off school,’ she said.
The government’s proposed model would have representatives from all states and territories as well as the Torres Strait and specific remote areas.
Those on the Voice will be appointed by communities, not the government, and serve specific terms.
The PM has guaranteed it will have a gender balance and include youth members, a particular point of contention for Shadow Indigenous Australians Minister Jacinta Nampijinpa Price.
Senator Nampijinpa Price has repeatedly questioned how the government can guarantee both self appointments and gender and age quotas.
Mr Albanese says the body will be transparent and accountable, and assures the public the parliament will ultimately decide on the model.
The latest polls have support for the Voice slumping in every state, and according to the latest Newspoll surveys the ‘Yes’ vote is ahead in only South Australia and NSW.
The votes are evenly split in Victoria, while the ‘No’ vote is leading in WA, Queensland, and Tasmania.
Both campaigns remain confident they can still win over voters across the board.
Insiders within the Yes campaign say internal polling suggests the majority of Australians remain undecided or ‘soft’ in their positions.
Mr Albanese revealed the referendum question on March 23, stating: ‘On the May 21 I began my prime ministership with a declaration about a referendum.
‘I knew what I was doing, I knew the weight that was there and I knew how that would be received by people. I also knew I had my party completely behind me.
‘I’m not here to occupy the space, I’m here to change the country. There’s nowhere more important in changing the country than in changing the constitution to recognise the fullness of our history.
‘I want this for all Australians. We’ll feel better about ourselves if we get this done. The truth is, Australia will be seen as a better nation in the rest of the world. Our position in the world matters.’
PM Anthony Albanese’s speech in full
My fellow Australians,
For many years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have advocated for Constitutional Recognition through a Voice.
Our Government – along with every single State and Territory Government – has committed to it.
Legal experts have endorsed it.
People on all sides of the Parliament have backed it.
Faith groups and sporting codes and local councils and businesses and unions have embraced it.
An army of volunteers from every part of this great nation are throwing all their energy behind it.
Now, my fellow Australians, you can vote for it.
The idea for a Voice came from the people – and it will be decided by the people.
Today, I announce that Referendum day will be the 14th of October.
On that day every Australian will have a once-in-a-generation chance to bring our country together and to change it for the better.
To vote for Recognition, Listening and Better Results.
And I ask all Australians to vote Yes.
Referendums come around much less often than elections – this will be the first one this century – and they are very different.
Because on October 14th, you are not being asked to vote for a political party or for a person.
You’re being asked to vote for an idea.
To say Yes to an idea whose time has come
To say Yes to an invitation that comes directly from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves.
A proposal thousands of elders and leaders and communities all over our country have worked on for over a decade.
A change supported by more than 80 per cent of Indigenous Australians: Constitutional Recognition through a Voice.
A way for all of us to recognise Indigenous Australians and their history in our Constitution and a form of recognition that will importantly make a positive difference to their lives and their futures.
A practical way of dealing with issues that, despite all the good intentions in this world, no Australian Government has been able to get right before.
The Voice will be a committee of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, local representatives from every state and territory, the regions, remote communities as well as the Torres Strait Islands.
A committee of Indigenous Australians, chosen by Indigenous Australians, giving advice to Government so that we can get better results for Indigenous Australians.
The Voice is about advice.
The Parliament and Government that Australians vote for in the normal way every three years will still be responsible for decisions and laws and funding
.Just as it always has been.
With a Voice though, we’ll be able to hear directly from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about the challenges they face in health and education, in jobs and housing, and we’ll be able to learn about the things are working in local areas, so we can replicate them and make them work right around the country.
Learning from communities in Arnhem Land where the parents and teachers co-operate to make sure children are going to school and aiming high.
Or the health services employing Indigenous nurses to deliver health checks and immunisations in remote communities.
Or Indigenous Rangers caring for our environment, with knowledge built up over tens of thousands of years.
There are local success stories out there – just imagine the progress we could make with a Voice connecting the regions with the nation.
And giving locals a say, of course, means that we save money too.
Because we’ll be making sure the funding actually reaches the people on the ground.
No more waste – better results where they are needed.
My fellow Australians, what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want for their children is what you want for yours.
Staying healthy, doing well at school, finding a job they love.
Being safe and leading fulfilling lives.
That’s what they are asking you to say Yes to at this referendum.
The same opportunity for their children to make a good life for themselves.
In the words of the Uluru Statement from the Heart: “When we have power over our destiny, our children will flourish.”
That’s the change that we, as Australians, can make happen.
Of course, voting Yes won’t fix everything overnight.
We’re talking about challenges built up over generations – and they will take time to address.
But Voting Yes means we will finally have the right approach in place, so we can start finding the solutions.
We can make this change together – and then we will make it work together.
With a Voice that’s independent from day-to-day politics, so that it can plan for the long term.
And let’s be very clear about the alternative.
Because Voting No leads nowhere. It means nothing changes.
Voting No closes the door on this opportunity to move forward.
I say today, don’t close the door on Constitutional Recognition.
Don’t close the door on listening to communities to get better results.
Don’t close the door on an idea that came from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves.
And don’t close the door on the next generation of Indigenous Australians.
Vote Yes for Recognition.
Vote Yes for Listening.
Vote Yes for Better Results.
Voting Yes is a change for the better that all of us can make together.
We all get one vote and we all get an equal say.
And if something is unclear to you, or you haven’t even had a chance to think about this yet, I encourage you, ask questions.
Because if you’re unsure, it’s easy to find out more.
Have a listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and elders like Noel Pearson and Aunty Pat Anderson, Megan Davis and Marcia Langton and Tanya Hosch and Tom Calma – trailblazers working with the next generation like Evonne Goolagong or Eddie Betts or Johnathon Thurston, or respected Liberals like Premier Jeremy Rockcliff, Ken Wyatt, Kate Carnell, Sean Gordon, Bridget Archer, Julian Leeser and Fred Chaney.
Have a read of the Uluru Statement from the Heart – just one page, full of grace and generosity, inviting all Australians to walk together to a better future.
Have a chat to the Yes campaign volunteers at your train station or shopping centre. And have a look, importantly, at the words of the question – and the words to be added to the Constitution.
They are not long.
The Question is:
A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
Do you approve this proposed alteration?
As are the provisions.
It’s the advantage of working on it for so long.
First, the recognition.
It says this: “In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:”
That is what it says. Simple. Clear.
Then the what.
Again, straightforward. Clear.
The second provision:
That is the what, what will it do. That is what it will do.
Straightforward. Clear. Unambiguous.
Then, the how, including a clear declaration of the primacy of our Parliament. It says this:
Again, pretty clear and pretty straightforward.
Recognition. Listening to advice. Parliament continuing as decision-maker.
That is the clear, positive and practical request from Indigenous Australians.
That is the hand out asking us, non-Indigenous Australia, to just grasp that hand of friendship.
And that’s what we can vote Yes for.
My fellow Australians, our Australian story goes back 65,000 years. And what a privilege we have of sharing this continent with the oldest continuous culture on earth.
But our story is not finished yet.
It’s up to all of us to write the next chapter together.
And we can start by writing one word – Yes.
In the history of our great nation, the wonderful acts of national progress and the great advances in fairness have always required hard work.
There were arguments here, when South Australia, something they are very proud of and should be, led the world in giving women the right to vote.
There were arguments made against Federation and the minimum wage, Medicare and multiculturalism.
And before the 1967 referendum, before Vincent Lingiari, before Mabo, before the Apology.
But the great story of our country, through the generations, is that Australians come together to answer these calls for change.
We rise to the moment.
Like the Kangaroo and the Emu on our coat of arms.
They never go backwards – they just go forwards.
And so do we.
And when it’s done, when we see the joy and the celebration, when we see the difference it makes to people’s lives, the only question we ever ask ourselves when these changes occur is: “Why didn’t we do it earlier?”
And it will be the same this time, when we come together and vote Yes.
Because we will have a way forward, together.
On October 14, there is nothing for us to lose.
And there is so much for Australia to gain. There is no downside here. Only upside.
Friends, many times when I’ve spoken about this change, I’ve asked: “If not now, when?”
This is it.
October 14 is our time.
It’s our chance.
It’s a moment calling-out to the best of our Australian character.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this has been a marathon.
For all of us, it is now a sprint.
And across the finish line is a more unified, more reconciled Australia, with greater opportunity for all.
That’s why thousands of people have volunteered already, many of whom have never worked on any kind of campaign before.
This is a once-in-a-generation chance – and Australians from across the generations are working together to make it happen.
I say to all those volunteers, keep knocking on doors, making phone calls – and keep having those conversations.
With your colleagues in workplaces across the land. Because this change is supported by employers and unions alike.
With your teammates in every local sporting club. Because this is a cause backed by every single sporting code.
With your fellow worshippers in every faith, because all faiths have given their support to this proposal.
With multicultural communities, because they know what it means to celebrate and recognise tradition and culture.
Have those conversations with your family and friends, your parents and grandparents.
Because with your energy and enthusiasm, this referendum can be won.
And when Yes wins, all Australians will win.
So, in a spirit of generosity and optimism – Vote Yes.
In recognition of 65,000 years of history – Vote Yes.
With hope for a better future – Vote Yes.
Vote Yes on October 14.