(Bloomberg) -- Celebrity endorsements and huge marches across Australia in support of the “yes” campaign for an Indigenous Voice to to be included in the constitution have so far failed to reverse mounting opposition to the proposal ahead of a referendum.
Australia will vote Oct. 14 on whether to write an Indigenous advisory body to Parliament into its constitution, as recommended by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders in 2017 and picked up by center-left Prime Minister Anthony Albanese five years later.
With three weeks to go until the ballot, Australia’s top election official warned that online abuse and misinformation around the Voice referendum was far worse than during the federal election in May 2022.
“We’ve seen higher levels of vitriol online than we’ve ever seen,” Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said at a briefing in Canberra on Thursday, adding some of his staff had been threatened online. “Some of the stuff we’re seeing still frankly is tinfoil-hat wearing bonkers, mad conspiracy theories.”
Rogers’ comments follow warnings from Indigenous Australian leaders that their people were facing appalling levels of racism during the referendum campaign. A phone support line for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has been deluged with calls, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Opposition to the proposal is still rising across opinion polls. A survey by Essential Media released on Tuesday found the “no” vote was in the majority for the first time this year, supported by 51% of respondents compared with 41% for a “yes.” No national poll currently has the “yes” vote in front.
This is despite several major events and endorsements in the past week for the Voice campaign, including Indigenous Olympic champion Cathy Freeman, as well as thousands of people marching in favor of a “yes” vote in major cities across Australia.
Rogers added that the Electoral Commission is seeing record levels of voter enrollments among Australians aged 18-24, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
BNN Bloomberg Picks
What does a rate hold mean for bonds and equities?
Here's when experts think interest rates might come down
Bank of Canada rate pause: What mortgage holders should know
READ: The Bank of Canada's statement on its latest rate decision
UPDATED: A timeline of Bank of Canada rate hikes
Next six months 'will be quite a challenge': Desjardins CEO