First Nations ‘yes’ campaign leaders break silence with statement

First Nations leaders involved in the 'Yes' campaign for the Voice have released a statement accusing Australians of committing a "shameful act" by voting down the referendum on October 14.
'yes' campaign statement

First Nations leaders involved in the ‘Yes’ campaign for the Voice have released a statement accusing Australians of committing a “shameful act” by voting down the referendum on October 14.

More than 60% of Australians voted ‘no’ in the referendum.

The statement from First Nations leaders marks the end of a “week of silence” to mourn the result. It is anonymous.

What it said

The statement said there was “nothing positive to be interpreted” from the referendum result. The authors said it made Australia “less democratic”.

It blamed the result on the Coalition, but also accused “the mainstream media” of “favouring a ‘false sense of balance over facts'” and unleashing “a tsunami of racism against our people”.

“That people who came to our country in only the last 235 years would reject the recognition of this continent’s First Peoples… is so appalling and mean-spirited as to be utterly unbelievable…

“Australia is our country… Always was. Always will be. It is the legitimacy of the non-Indigenous occupation in this country that requires recognition, not the other way around.”

First Nations leaders from the ‘yes’ campaign’s statement 

Voice campaign leaders’ position

The authors said they would consider establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice outside of the political system to give independent advice.

“Rejection of constitutional recognition will not deter us from speaking up to governments, parliaments and the Australian people,” the statement read.

Who wrote the statement?

The statement does not include a list of authors, so it is unclear which leading figures from the ‘Yes’ campaign endorse its message.

It has been shared on social media on pages formally affiliated with the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart. However, campaign group ‘Yes23’ has not shared it.

On Sunday, Nine newspapers reported an early draft of the statement had sparked disagreement among First Nations leaders.

Government response

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has not yet commented on the statement. However, he did say on Friday: “We respect the outcome in our democracy.”

Albanese has been reluctant to clarify whether the Government remains committed to the other elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. These include a treaty and a national ‘truth-telling’ process.

Opposition response

Nationals Leader David Littleproud, who campaigned against the Voice, said today he could “understand and appreciate the disappointment.”

“This was a democratically determined outcome by the Australian people.”

“Nobody, no group is above the institution of our democracy,” he added.

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