Australia PM ‘optimistic’ of long-shot win in Indigenous rights referendum

Australia PM ‘optimistic’ of long-shot win in Indigenous rights referendum
Australia PM ‘optimistic’ of long-shot win in Indigenous rights referendum

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said today he remained hopeful a referendum to recognise the country’s Indigenous people in the constitution would succeed, even as the measure lags in opinion polls less than a week from the vote. — Reuters pic

SYDNEY, Oct 8 — Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said today he remained hopeful a referendum to recognise the country’s Indigenous people in the constitution would succeed, even as the measure lags in opinion polls less than a week from the vote.

“I’m optimistic,” Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) this morning, according to a transcript. “Whether it be Shepperton or Sydney or Brisbane, Melbourne, the places I’ve been, Hobart, Adelaide in the last week, have been extremely positive.”

Albanese’s centre-left Labour government backs the referendum, while the opposition Liberal-National conservatives urge a “No” vote on October 14. Nationally, opponents lead the yes campaign by 53 per cent to 38 per cent, according to an opinion poll last week.

If the “Voice to Parliament” referendum is approved, it would constitutionally enshrine Indigenous people and set up an advisory body for their input on policies that affect them.

Most Indigenous people favour the change, but some say it is a distraction from achieving practical and positive outcomes and would not fully resolve the issues affecting them. The political opposition says the measure is divisive, would be ineffective and would slow government decision-making.

Marginalised by British colonial rulers and not mentioned in Australia’s 122-year-old constitution, Indigenous Australians, who make up 3.8 per cent of the population, face discrimination, shorter life expectancy, lower education outcomes and high incarceration rates.

As part of final efforts to buoy the yes side, Albanese yesterday posted a photo to Social media platform X showing him casting his vote in Sydney in Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, where 4.2 per cent of people identify as Indigenous.

Last month, thousands rallied in state capitals to support the yes campaign, which sees the measure as necessary to boost outcomes for the nation’s Indigenous people. — Reuters

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