Early voting opens with PM still optimistic for Yes

The referendum to enshrine an Indigenous voice in the constitution is “certainly winnable”, the prime minister says, as more Australian stars commit to the ‘Yes’ campaign.

Oct 03, 2023, updated Oct 03, 2023
Photo: Mark Baker/AP

Photo: Mark Baker/AP

All eligible Australians can cast a ballot on whether an Indigenous advisory body should be included in the constitution after a staggered start to early voting due to public holidays in some states and territories.

With most surveys including Newspoll and the Resolve Political Monitor showing declining support for the voice, things aren’t looking good for the ‘Yes’ campaign.

But with just over a week to go until the official polling day on October 14, Anthony Albanese says the referendum isn’t over.

“It is certainly winnable,” he told ABC Radio National on Tuesday.

“When people have those one-on-one conversations about what the question is … people who are either undecided or soft ‘No’ voters declare ‘yeah, that’s fair enough.’

“This is the right thing to do, this is consistent with the Australian principle of a fair go.”

This comes as Australian celebrities including former Labor minister and lead singer of rock band Midnight Oil Peter Garrett and NRL superstar Nathan Cleary lend their voices to the ‘Yes’ campaign.

One advertisement features Garrett telling people to find out more about the official ‘Yes’ campaign, set to the music of the band’s hit Power and the Passion.

Cleary threw his support behind the voice the day after winning the NRL premiership with the Penrith Panthers in a video posted on social media.

However, ‘No’ supporter and Nationals senator Matt Canavan says the government and Australian stars should focus on issues that matter like cost-of-living and farmers’ water rights, rather than the voice.

“We need actual arguments about how this is going to improve people’s lives,” he told Sky News on Tuesday.

On the other side of the political spectrum, progressive ‘No’ proponent and independent Senator Lidia Thorpe says the voice is not about changing the lives of Indigenous Australians.

“This is about assimilation, putting us into their founding document – which is an absolute joke,” she told ABC Melbourne radio on Tuesday.

But Albanese says there is no downside to voting ‘Yes’.

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“Voting Yes, we’ll just give three per cent of the population the opportunity to be heard,” he told reporters.

“We know that when people are directly affected and they’re able to have a voice and be listened to, you’ll get better outcomes.”

Early polling centres opened in NSW, the ACT, Queensland and South Australia on Tuesday, as Monday was a public holiday in those states.

Voting opened in Victoria, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania on Monday.

Anyone able to vote in person on October 14 has been urged to do so as early voting is for those who cannot get to a polling centre on the day.

Postal vote applications are open until 6pm on October 11.

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