Thursday, September 28, 2023

Support for Australia’s Indigenous Rights Referendum is falling

Australia’s historic referendum on indigenous rights is losing support. Recent polls show that only a minority of the country’s population supports the October vote.

If the Yes vote is won, Indigenous Australians, whose ancestors have inhabited the continent for at least 60,000 years, will be recognized in the constitution for the first time in history.

They also receive the constitutional right to be consulted on laws that impact their community.

But less than two weeks after Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese launched the campaign, polls show the population is overwhelmingly opposed.

According to a poll published on Monday, 57% of participants oppose the referendum while 43% support it.

Some polls show support for the referendum has fallen by more than 20 percentage points over the last year.

Kosmos Samaras, director of pollster RedBridge, told AFP there was a “sustained decline” and it was “hard to see” the Yes campaign prevailing.

Conservative opposition leader Peter Dutton called on Albanese on Monday to abandon the referendum, saying it would damage fragile race relations.

Despite the worrying questions, Albanese is determined to move forward and on Monday accused Dutton of “prioritizing politics over content”.

– “People without power” –

Polls also show a growing divide between the general population, who view the referendum with skepticism, and the indigenous minority, who overwhelmingly support it.

Campaign group Yes23 said on Monday that “more than 80% of Indigenous Australians” support the referendum.

The referendum has been criticized for granting special privileges to indigenous peoples and for being a plan by big city politicians with no experience in remote indigenous communities.

“It’s nothing new, (the referendum) has been in the works for decades. The idea came directly from indigenous communities, not politicians,” the Yes23 group responded on Monday.

Noel Pearson, a prominent Indigenous elder and referendum supporter, called the vote a rare opportunity to help the “less powerful people in the country.”

“We are not the favorites in this referendum, but I still believe we can achieve victory,” he said on national radio station ABC on Sunday.

Aboriginal Australians have one of the oldest cultures in the world.

But more than two centuries after the first British settlers arrived in Sydney Harbour, they are still far more likely to die young, live in poverty and be imprisoned.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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