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 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.
‘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.
Ending months of speculation, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has today confirmed when Aussies will head to polling booths across the nation
The official Yes campaign website appeared to foreshadow the Prime Minister’s announcement, with events scheduled for October 14
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.’
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull takes a selfie with Federal Minister for the Envrioment Tanya Plibersek, Federal member for Wentworth Allegra Spender and Lucy Turnbull as they hand out Yes campaign material for the Voice in Kings Cross, Sydney ahead of the announcement of the date for the Voice to Parliament referendum
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.
Supporters of the Yes vote arrive in Adelaide for PM Anthony Albanese’s announcement of the referendum date
Finance Minister Katy Gallagher appeared in Canberra on Wednesday morning to drum up support for the Yes campaign
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.’
Greens Leader Adam Bandt (left) and Minister for NDIS Bill Shorten speak while campaigning ahead of the announcement of the date for the Voice to Parliament referendum at Newmarket train station in Melbourne
As Mr Albanese and his entourage left his March press conference announcing the referendum question, they were met with raucous applause by the Labor caucus