Podcast #105: Voice referendum final week


Ben is joined today by Peter Brent to wrap up the referendum campaign. We discuss the state of the polls, the relative position of the states, whether the low Yes vote can really be blamed on the state of the campaign or by the fundamental referendum trends, and what data points might line up with the results on Saturday.

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  1. Thanks David

    While I realise this is a psephology web site and you guest made the point that he wanted to turn off the post mortem discussion, I really don’t think you can disconnect the two.

    While I will be voting Yes, I am resigned to a thumping No vote. And I put this down to two main factors:
    1. The poor Yes campaign.
    2. The general ignorance of the public to engage with the issue.

    As a Yes voter, I have not heard heard a compelling argument from the Yes Campaign to vote Yes. Mostly it has been emotive and really did nothing to try and dispel the (what I believe to be) false arguments put forward by the No Campaign; and articulate how a yes vote would result in positive change for the Aboriginal people. I come to my Yes position mainly from my work experience where community consultation is part of our bread and butter work. I see the Voice as being no different to community consultation, other than me (a technocrat) being the intermediary in-between what the community say and what I report back to my political masters – The Voice cuts the likes of me out of the equation and the Aboriginal representatives have a direct voice to the final decision makers. It doesn’t change the decision making process – all power still resides with the politicians. So I see it as a very low risk proposition and worthy of giving it a shot to see if it is effective or not. To keep doing more of the same and getting the same (poor) results is the very definition of insanity.

    I have to admit that I have turned off from both sides months ago. I still can’t avoid hearing snippets, but what I have heard thus far has not been, IMHO, compelling, especially from the Yes side.

    To get to more psephology issues, voting and polling is really just a reflection of what people know and understand. In that regard the No Campaign has done a great job of reaching out and grabbing the attention of the lowest common denominator – ignorance and an unwillingness to genuinely engage with the matter under consideration, which to get on democracy high horse is the obligation of all voters.

    There was a very good interview with Anne Twomey on the radio yesterday (https://www.abc.net.au/listen/programs/lawreport/voice-referendum-vote/102882194). A constitution law expert who made some strong arguments against the No campaign. She pointed to the 1946 referendum (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1946_Australian_referendum_(Social_Services)), which while addressing different matters had some similarities (it was an open question where the mechanics of HOW it will be done will be left the Parliament to decide). Looking at the results it was still close (54% yes), yet its implications from that Constitution change have positively changed many of our lives.

    I fear the consequences of a No vote, not just for further disadvantaging of a disadvantaged community (not all are disadvantaged of course, but a sizable number are), but for the start of the Americanisation of Australian politics and what it represents that we as a nation have not grown up to reach full maturity and won’t reach what we once thought we could be – a nation of a fair go for all.

  2. Very perceptive, Neil. If only the PM had considered the record of the 1946 Social Services Referendum that asked electors to approve (and place beyond doubt) the payments that were already being made for Child Endowment, Unemployment Relief etc. For this reason the Coalition did not oppose it (while opposing and defeating two other ALP referendums at the same election). The wise course would have been to have legislated the Calma-Langton Report and have it operate for several years before asking voters to approve a known, safe quantity.
    Many electors are not prepared to trust a Parliament with “progressive” majorities to legislate the Voice after a successful referendum, especially when there has been no specific endorsement of the moderate, limited Calma-Langton report. The PM last month promised implementation by a bipartisan committee with ALP and Coalition co-chairs. That should have been promised months ago – it came far too late.

  3. Great pod as always. As a Tasmanian, I will personally be very surprised if Tasmania votes majority Yes. Although it may vote less No than it would otherwise. I just feel the fact that Jeremy Rockliff is pro-Yes has not been very prominent, certainly the median apolitical voter would have no idea. In this day and age I think the average disengaged voter more often consumes media that is national, rather than state-based. Although I do live in Northern Tasmania so maybe things are completely different down south. Will be interesting to see on referendum night.

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