Canberra: Australia has set the date for a historic referendum to change the country’s constitution in order to recognise its indigenous people, CNN reported.
More than 17 million registered voters across the country will vote on October 14 to decide on whether to change the constitution to recognize the land’s original inhabitants through a First Nations advisory group with a direct line to the government.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday said, “On that day, every Australian will have a once-in-a-generation chance to bring our country together and to change it for the better.”
As soon as the date was announced, the no campaign sent a text message calling for tax-deductible donations that read, “It’s on! Albo has called it and we have until OCT 14 to beat the Voice!”
Just one question will be asked that requires a “yes” or “no” answer – “A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?”
The question has generated hundreds of headlines and hours of debate online and on air, as both sides mount vigorous campaigns to sway the majority in all states and territories, as per CNN.
The vote’s passage requires a double majority vote that is over 50 per cent of voters across the country, and at least 50 per cent in a majority of states – at least four of six. Votes in the territories – the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory will only be included in the national total.
The vote is being seen as a pivotal moment, not only because constitutional change is rare and irreversible but because it has illuminated issues that have festered for centuries.
The Voice, if approved, would enshrine a body in the constitution made up of Indigenous people to advise the government on laws that relate to them, according to CNN.
According to supporters, the vote is an opportunity to treat the raw wounds of injustice, to finally listen to First Nations people following generations of persecution, racism and neglect.
Others say it’s a token gesture that at best will achieve nothing and risks dividing the nation by giving some Australians a special place above others in the constitution.