Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced that the Voice to Parliament referendum will be held on October 14.
Wednesday’s announcement of the date will kick-off extensive campaigning from both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps, and will trigger the first major showdown between the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, Peter Dutton.
The outcome of the October referendum will have major political consequences for both leaders.
The question that will be put to Australian voters will require a “Yes” or “No” response to whether an independent advisory board for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be established.
“For many years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have advocated for Constitutional Recognition through a Voice,” Albanese said.
“Our Government – along with every single State and Territory Government – has committed to it. Now, my fellow Australians, you can vote for it.”
At an event in Adelaide this week, Albanese said the idea for a Voice came from the people – and it will be decided by the people.
“Every Australian will have a once-in-a-generation chance to bring our country together and to change it for the better,” the Prime Minister said.
“To vote for recognition, listening and better results.
“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.”
While it may not be an election, the next six weeks will likely feel like one with both Albanese and Dutton set to be in campaign mode pushing their cases.
“Voting No closes the door on this opportunity to move forward,” Albanese said at Wednesday’s launch.
“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.”
Albanese said the question is straightforward, clear and unambiguous.
“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,” he said.
“But our story is not finished yet, it’s up to all of us to write the next chapter together.”
Greens Leader Adam Bandt welcomed the announcement of the referendum date.
“As the first political party to endorse the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full, the Greens are proud to support the campaign for Yes,” he said.
“First Nations people are the experts on First Nations policy. When they give advice, governments must listen and act.
“A successful Yes vote at this Referendum is a step towards justice for First Nations people, and towards the solutions that First Nations people have been fighting for for decades.”
Dutton spoke late on Wednesday and called on the Prime Minister to release more details about the Voice.
“I think most Australians, millions of Australians will want to know what it is they’re being asked to vote for, because it’s not going to provide practical outcomes,” he said.
“There’s been no provision of detail in a completely unprecedented way. We know that this is divisive, we know that. It’s unknown. We know that we’ve got a Prime Minister who just deliberately is withholding information from the Australian public.
“He says that all the details will be provided after the vote takes place. but I just don’t think that’s good enough, and if you’re the Prime Minister, embarking on a course where you’re dividing the country at a time when families are paying through the roof for their electricity prices, they can’t afford to go to the supermarket, they can’t afford to fill up their car, and we’ve got a Prime Minister who is concentrating on everything else.”
Formerly with the ABC, Makayla is a graduate of Western Sydney University. She covers a variety of news topics for the Weekender, including courts.