Australian PM urged to delay 'doomed' Indigenous Voice referendum

Support for the 'Yes' vote for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament is in decline, prompting calls for postponement.

Australian PM urged to delay 'doomed' Voice referendum
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Supporters of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament in Australia are appealing to the government to postpone the referendum until next year amid waning support for the 'Yes' vote.

Liberal MP Andrew Bragg, a proponent of the 'Yes' campaign, expressed concerns about the lack of a "middle ground" and feared that without consensus, the referendum would be doomed to failure.

Bragg emphasised the need to "recalibrate" and give the concept a chance by holding the referendum in mid-2024.

He stressed the importance of building bipartisan support to improve the proposal rather than focusing solely on marketing efforts.

However, polls show a decline in support for the Indigenous Voice this year, casting doubt on whether the double majority needed to pass the referendum can be achieved.

Bragg suggested that the government's approach to defining the wording of the referendum had left many people behind, arguing that a committee should have been established earlier to foster consensus.

The government maintains that the specific details of the Indigenous Voice, such as its membership and selection process, would be determined by the parliament if the referendum succeeded. Broad design principles have been available since March.

A bipartisan parliamentary committee examined the referendum legislation for four weeks but made no changes to the government's proposed question, which was informed by the voice working group.

While the Nationals and Liberal party both expressed opposition to the Indigenous Voice before the question was put forward, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese believed that finding a bipartisan middle ground would have been impossible given the Coalition's opposition.

Despite the calls for delay, Albanese has previously asserted that there would be no consideration of postponement, planning to proceed with a short campaign for the referendum sometime between October and December as required by law.

Any delay would necessitate new legislation and a restart of the process.

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