SA ‘critical’ to Voice outcome

A date for the Voice to parliament referendum is likely to be announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Adelaide tomorrow, with Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson saying South Australia is at the epicentre of the campaign.

Aug 29, 2023, updated Aug 30, 2023
SA at "the epicentre" of The Voice vote. Rachel Perkins (left), Kyam Maher and Noel Pearson at Adelaide Railway Station this morning. Photo: supplied

SA at "the epicentre" of The Voice vote. Rachel Perkins (left), Kyam Maher and Noel Pearson at Adelaide Railway Station this morning. Photo: supplied

Pearson, along with state Attorney-General Kyam Maher and film maker Rachel Perkins, were at Adelaide Railway Station this morning talking to commuters about the referendum.

“I’m excited about the prospect of the Prime Minister announcing the date tomorrow for the referendum, this has been a long journey, I’m so happy to be in Adelaide, the epicentre of this campaign,” Pearson said.

“SA is absolutely critical to this referendum as it always has been to any progressive reform in this country.

“SA led the nation in women’s suffrage, and there was another campaign back then, SA led the country toward federation. South Australians always deliver.”

The referendum will ask Australians to vote on whether the Voice should be added to the Constitution.

It would involve establishing a committee made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across the country, with a diverse range of backgrounds, ages, and ideas, to provide informed advice to government on issues that affect Indigenous Australians.

The Voice would not make new laws, control funding or sit in the houses of Parliament.

Pearson said he was “anxious and excited” about the date for the referendum vote being named and for the following six weeks, where there would be conversations with Australians about the “reform and the opportunity it represents for all of us”.

He believed the “mood is shifting” across the nation. Polling shows Pearson’s home state of Queensland is likely to vote no to the referendum, with reports showing SA and Tasmania are shaping up as key swing states.

Maher said in support of the ‘yes vote’ that there had been 44 questions put to the Australian people in referendums since 1901 and only eight had been successful.

He asked South Australians to consider voting yes, saying it was crucial to the nation.

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“An advisory body that will help governments do better, quite simply the voice that this referendum proposes is about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having more of a say about the decisions that affect their lives, nothing more, nothing less, there literally is nothing to lose and everything to gain by voting yes in the upcoming election,” Maher said.

“How we vote at this referendum will shape how we see ourselves and how others see us. Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our Constitution, in the birth certificate of a national, is a crucial step in us developing as a country.”

Perkins – the daughter of Charlie Perkins, an Aboriginal activist and key figure in advocating for a yes vote in the 1967 referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution – said “the important thing to remember” is that more than 80 per cent have asked Australians to “stand with us”.

The Liberal Party is backing a ‘no vote’ campaign with key spokesperson and Senator Jacinta Price arguing that the plan was dividing the nation on the lines of race.

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