The results of a poll announced on Monday, September 4, 2023, indicate that more than half of Australia population is poised to reject the inclusion of an Indigenous advisory panel in the constitution. Consequently, the Labor Party government faces the challenge of boosting support for this crucial proposal as the country approaches a referendum in about six weeks.
The Latest Poll in Australia
In the most recent poll, conducted for The Australian newspaper, there is a continuous decline in support for the “Voice to Parliament,” an Indigenous committee that offers advice to the Parliament on issues affecting Indigenous people. Surprisingly, only 38% of voters intend to support it, while about 53% oppose it.
Australia is currently in the midst of a six-week campaign leading up to the October 14, 2023, referendum. During this critical period, citizens will be asking whether they support a constitutional change to establish an Indigenous advisory committee to provide guidance to the federal parliament.
Referendum Requirements in Australia
To amend the constitution, a referendum requires a majority vote nationally and a majority vote in at least four of the six states. It is essential to note that, since Australia’s independence in 1901, only eight out of 44 proposed constitutional changes have been approved.
Australia Labor Party Under Pressure
The center-left Labor Party government is under significant pressure to improve its messaging as support for the referendum continues to decline in the polls.
Additionally, the poll reveals a concerning drop in approval ratings for PM Anthony Albanese, who has invested his political capital in the referendum. His approval ratings have fallen into negative territory for the first time since he assumed office last year.
When considering the preferences of party supporters, the Labor Party still holds a 53-47% lead. However, this figure has significantly decreased from 55-45% in the previous poll. Furthermore, support for the conservative opposition coalition has reached its highest level since the May 2022 election, effectively narrowing the Labor Party’s lead to 37% versus 35% in the primary vote.
Opposition Leader’s Stance
Over the weekend, opposition leader Peter Dutton made a noteworthy announcement regarding his intentions. He expressed his desire to hold a second referendum on Indigenous recognition if the Voice referendum fails. However, it is crucial to understand that he would not support a constitutionally enshrined body, a stance that drew criticism from Voice supporters.
Remarkably, Albanese responded to Dutton’s position by saying, “He’s already planning the sequel while doing everything he can to sabotage the original film,” in an interview with local media.
As Australia approaches a crucial referendum on Indigenous recognition, the Labor Party faces an uphill battle in gaining support for the proposed constitutional change. The declining approval ratings for the prime minister and the growing opposition to the Voice to Parliament have added complexity to the situation. Consequently, the outcome of the referendum remains uncertain. Only time will tell whether this historic change will find favor among the Australian population and usher in a new era of Indigenous representation in the country’s political landscape.