Australia’s recent referendum on enshrining an Indigenous voice in the Constitution has garnered worldwide attention due to its outcome, with most states rejecting the proposal and a majority of voters voting against it. The referendum campaign was characterized as tense and sometimes contentious.
United Nations Urges a “Yes” Vote: Before the referendum, human rights experts at the United Nations in Geneva encouraged Australians to vote in favor, believing that it could help address the legacy of systemic discrimination and inequalities faced by Indigenous peoples. They saw it as a way to support their rights to development and self-determination.
UK Views on the Referendum: The Financial Times in the UK reported that supporters of the Indigenous voice believed that it would unite Australia and bring about a new era, while opponents viewed it as divisive, creating different classes of citizens. The referendum’s failure, despite support from major Australian companies and institutions, was seen as a setback in addressing the historical and current treatment of Indigenous people, who make up 3% of the population.
International Media Reports:
- BBC’s Perspective: The BBC reported that Australia had overwhelmingly rejected the plan in an often bitter campaign, marked by misinformation about its effects.
- The Times: This British newspaper saw the referendum’s failure as a significant blow to those who saw it as a chance to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
- Le Monde in France: Indigenous Australians expressed anger and disappointment over the rejection of their calls for reconciliation with the country’s colonial past.
- Deutsche Welle in Germany: Described the result as a major setback to Australia’s reconciliation efforts with its First Peoples.
- La Repubblica in Italy: Said that the vote aimed at granting new rights to First Nations peoples was derailed by a campaign that spread false information.
- The Irish Times: Suggested that the decline in support for the referendum was due to various reasons, including the government’s handling of national issues.
- Al Jazeera: Mentioned the impact of misinformation and criticized sections of the media for steering the debate away from core issues.
US and The New York Times: In the United States, The Wall Street Journal reported that the rejection of the constitutional amendment reflected deep divisions on how to address colonialism’s legacy and improve the lives of Indigenous people. The New York Times warned about the spread of election conspiracy theories and noted that the referendum had dashed Indigenous hopes of reconciliation while raising unrealistic fears.
Overall, the outcome of Australia’s Voice referendum has drawn global attention to the challenges faced by Indigenous communities and the divisions within the country regarding their rights and representation.