22 September 2023

Record enrolment numbers for Voice referendum

| Chris Johnson
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Parliament House

Australians have enrolled in record number for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum. Photo: Region.

Australians have enrolled for next month’s Voice referendum in record numbers, with 17,676,347 correctly on the rolls when registration closed last Monday (18 September).

Final roll numbers just released equate to 97.7 per cent of eligible Australians being enrolled to vote in the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum.

In the ACT, the percentage is even higher, with a 98 per cent enrolment rate totalling 316,837 registered voters from an eligible pool of 323,319.

Nationally, the roll has increased by 447,447 people since the 2022 federal election, a rise of 2.6 per cent.

More than 8.4 million people on the electoral roll were not enrolled when the last referendum was held in 1999, which is more than 47 per cent of the electoral roll.

That number includes 6.7 million people who were under 18 or not born at the time of the last referendum, as well as 1.7 million other people who are new to the roll since 1999 – many of whom are new Australian citizens.

The Australian Electoral Commission said registration figures amount to the largest enrolment in Australia’s history.

In between the announcement of the referendum date and the close of rolls, about 79,000 people were added, and another 376,000 eligible Australians updated their electoral details.

READ ALSO Canberrans must not be complacent on the Voice

The youth enrolment rate increased to 91.4 per cent, which means about 1.8 million 18-to-24-year-olds are ready to have their say in their first referendum.

In the ACT there are 3,966 18-year-olds registered to vote, 4,776 19-year-olds registered, and 25,152 20-to-24-year-olds registered.

In terms of First Nations enrolment nationally, it sits at 94.1 per cent.

Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said the First Nations enrolment is the highest it has ever been.

He added that reaching such a high level of electoral roll completion across all eligible voters and demographics was a result of years of hard work by the AEC.

​”With many nations around the world campaigning to get even three-quarters of their population enrolled to vote, this result is a continuing source of Australian democratic pride.” Mr Rogers said.

​”Well done, Australia. Now it’s time to have your say.”

On 14 October, Australians will be asked to vote Yes or No to this question:

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?

Australians will vote to amend the Constitution to include a new chapter titled Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

The proposed law that Australians are being asked to approve at the referendum would insert the following lines into the Constitution:

  1. There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
  2. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and
  3. The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.

READ ALSO You’re a public servant with a view about the Voice? That’s great, let’s hear it

In an opinion piece published on Friday (22 September), Anthony Albanese refuted claims there was not enough information about the Voice, saying the Federal Government would remain the decision maker but be equipped with better advice from a Voice directly from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“What Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want for their children is what you want for yours,” the Prime Minister said.

“That’s what they are asking you to say Yes to at this referendum. The same opportunity for their children to make a good life for themselves. Nothing extra, just an equal chance. That’s the change we can make happen.

“For many years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have advocated for Constitutional Recognition through a Voice – one that’s independent from day-to-day politics. A practical way of making real progress on issues like health and education…

“The Voice will mean we listen to people about issues that affect them, so we get better results.”

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Vote no. Start winding back the waste.

MM, it’s like a shell game. When you point out the advisory body only needs to be legislated not constitutionally enshrined, it turns out the pea is under the “Oh, it’s for constitutional recognition” shell. If you point to the “constitutional recognition” shell, the pea is under the “Oh, that’s insufficient, it needs a voice” shell. If you point to the “just for better service delivery” shell, the pea is under the “Oh, it’s much more than that” shell. If you point to the “truth, treaty, reparations” shell, the pea is under the “lol, it’s just for service delivery” shell.

So all the billions spent annually and hundreds of indigenous bodies will suddenly have a magic wand waved above them all and miraculously it will all work yeah?. So what happens if it all falls apart much like the WA Heritage act? What about the rent and reparations bandied around by Mayo and co? Albanese has changed his narrative in almost every interview he has had. One time it’s a modest request and an Advisory Body, next time it’s a Voice, Treaty and Truth (or the implementation of the Uluru Statement in full). What stays, what goes, what changes? Contrary to his claims we haven’t been provided enough detail and it’s divided our country like nothing most of us can recall. This will be another bureaucracy that will be permanent and costly. Vote NO.

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