The Guardian • Issue #2075

Referendum defeat, a ‘sorry day’

CPA supports a

Yes campaigner Thomas Mayo said the defeat of the Referendum signalled a “sorry day.” Australia voted for the status quo of dispossession, inequality, lack of recognition and the strengthening of colonialism.

It is a sorry day indeed. The results unfortunately, show the kind of society Australians live in. The highly emotional and effective campaign of fear and disinformation carried out by the No campaign won the day.

The Communist Party of Australia, as part of the YES campaign for a Voice to Parliament, had campaigned for a Yes vote in the Referendum to the very last minute since July 2023.

Those who supported the Yes are true supporters of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Unfortunately, it shows the real reason the gap continues to be a national disgrace is the lack of political will, policies or compassion to address it.

As the CPA Voice material stated if the NO vote was successful:

All progress stops for a national treaty, no incentive for further progress on Indigenous rights and truth-telling.

Conservative forces will see a No vote as a win and will be emboldened to push their objectives against the working class and First Peoples of Australia.

The Labor Party will not have an appetite to bring up a referendum again at least for the next couple of terms, if they get them, and the Coalition will do nothing (or worse) despite the opportunistic offer made by the leader of the opposition Peter Dutton.

While the Uluru Statement from the heart was hurt, Indigenous Australians will continue the struggle. The push for truth-telling and a treaty will be the way forward.

The Referendum on the Voice to Parliament for Indigenous Australians was an opportunity for Australians to declare their opposition to the ongoing legacy of colonialism and acts of genocide. A successful vote could have opened up space for progressive change in Australia and declared support for recognition and improvement of the position of First Peoples in Australia.

Let’s hope that the ‘No’ victory will not further create polarisation and division. In the report we heard, particularly evident in the NT, that the Indigenous population voted Yes. Unfortunately, the Australian population have let the First Peoples down.

In the CPA we will continue to accept the invitation to walk with the First Peoples and will look for alternatives to realising the Uluru statement from the heart. We will also continue to work for Land Rights as the means to secure the future of Indigenous Australians.

The CPA calls for unity for all those who were engaged in the Referendum campaign over the past months. Those of us who voted Yes for a Voice to Parliament for Indigenous Australians will need to work harder to bring about justice and a better future for all. In this truth-telling and treaty are essential in the struggle for land rights and equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We feel proud that the CPA mobilised its modest resources for recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and an enshrined Voice to Parliament.

In its campaign the CPA correctly identified that it would be necessary to continue the struggle regardless of the outcome of the referendum.

The Communist Party of Australia will continue to work alongside Australia’s First Peoples for justice and closing the gap in unity with non-Indigenous and Indigenous people to build a fairer society for all.

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