Statement from Daniel Wild, Deputy Executive Director of the Institute of Public Affairs
Today is a proud day in the history of Australia.
The result makes clear an overwhelming majority of Australians, from all walks of life, have rejected entrenching racial division in our nation’s founding document.
Australians voted ‘No’ because they did not want our nation to be permanently divided. Australians fully understood what this vote meant, which is why they rejected the proposed change.
The Australian way of life is based on fairness, equality, freedom, and tolerance. Today’s result renews our deep commitment to these principles. Mainstream Australians understood the Voice to Parliament was challenge to these ideals.
The comprehensive defeat of the Voice to Parliament is a significant victory in the culture wars. In 2015, the Institute of Public Affairs commenced its constitutional research program, Race Has No Place, with the simple ideal that;
Australia is one of the oldest and most successful democracies in the world because our Constitution is based on the idea of the equality of Australians before the law. Our nation’s founding document should unify us – not divide us. Race has no place in the Australian Constitution.
Far too often in recent history, leaders on the centre-right have abrogated their responsibility to defend our values and preserve our way of life. The result is a clear indication to the major political parties that defending our culture is vitally important to millions of Australians.
The defeat of the Voice is also a transformative moment for our nation. The referendum has exposed the real and growing gulf between mainstream Australians and Australia’s political class, elites and major corporations.
Today’s result was secured in the face of the most lopsided campaign the nation has ever seen.
From initial preferential funding arrangements for the ‘Yes’ campaign to attempts to cancel the traditional referendum pamphlet, the interventions of the federal government to stack the deck in favour of its preferred outcome was of great concern to Australians who wanted a free and fair debate.
Throughout the referendum campaign Australians have witnessed unparalleled levels of censorship from foreign big-tech companies and the insidious intervention of self-appointed ‘fact checkers’. Such interventions violated a foundational principle of the Australian way of life, that being, everybody gets to have their say, no matter what their view is.
A key lesson of this referendum is that millions of Australians passionately believe more work needs to be done to achieve better outcomes for remote Indigenous communities.
These communities have for too long been let down by bureaucratic structures designed to serve the needs of the political class and activists, rather than alleviate poverty, violence and deprivation.
The co-opting of the desperate situation too many of our fellow Australians face, by the political class and elites, to justify efforts to permanently divide Australians by race has comprehensively failed.
Lastly, we should all remember that millions of our fellow countrymen and women voted Yes. And that, no doubt, the great majority of those who voted this way did so because they genuinely believed the Voice would alleviate the tragic outcomes that far too many Indigenous Australians in remote parts of the country face, just as we all do. It is the obligation and responsibility of our political and community leaders to engage in a healing and unifying process for our nation. There is far more that unites us as Australians than divides us. The fault is not with those who voted Yes, but with the elites in Canberra who put our nation through this dividing, unnecessary, and avoidable process.