Indigenous elder Aunty Violet says a No vote in Saturday’s Voice to Parliament referendum would “take us back 65,000 years”.
The Yes campaign is remaining defiant despite low support in the polls, with the Prime Minister leading the charge, saying he expects Australians to buck the “computer generated polls” and vote in favour of the change.
The latest Newspoll has support for the Voice at 34 per cent, well down from the 60 per cent figure it recorded back in February.
Anthony Albanese said there was a “certain arrogance that has crept into the No campaign of taking this for granted and taking Australians for granted”.
“Some of the polls forgot to speak with voters,” he said from Adelaide on Friday morning.
Ngunnawal elder Aunty Violet, speaking outside Parliament House, said she “didn’t understand” how so many people could be willing to deny Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander their rightful place in the constitution.
“Please Australia, support us with this vote. Vote yes and give us the voice to speak for ourselves,” she said.
Yes23 director Dean Perkin said Australia would “wake up a new nation” if Yes triumphed in tomorrow’s vote.
“Understand you’ve got nothing to fear, nothing to lose. A Yes vote is all upside … is a positive gain for the Australian nation,” he said.
“And I encourage Australians to be that generous nation that we talk about ourselves (being), be that dignified nation that we talk about ourselves (being) and vote yes.”
Mr Albanese says at the end of the day, there is only one vote that counts.
“The fact is that Australians will go into the ballot room, either today or tomorrow, and if they write just three letters, Y-E-S, all that will happen is our First Australians will be recognised in our nation’s founding document,” he said.
“And secondly, there will be a non-binding advisory committee that can be listened to, that can advise and make representations to government about matters that affect Indigenous people so that we get better results.
“That’s all that’s at stake here. Nothing to fear, everything to gain. I hope that Australians do vote Yes tomorrow.”
Leading Yes campaigner and Cape York leader Noel Pearson had earlier urged Australians to not vote with their political allegiances, telling them if they wished to punish Mr Albanese, they should do so at the next federal election and not in this “important” vote that was “about the children”.
“This is not about a Liberal versus Labor versus One Nation versus the Greens and so on. This is about the future of our country. We get this chance once every 200 years and we’ve got it this weekend,” he told Sky News.
“Whereas a federal election … we do that every three years.
“So I urge Australian voters to suspend your tribal loyalties to your favourite political party and vote for the country on October the 14th.”
Ken Wyatt, who served as Indigenous Australians minister under the Morrison government, said the Voice had 69 per cent support when he left office.
“I have watched the position that people have taken that has caused it to drop substantially,” he said.
“I was disappointed because (Opposition Leader) Peter (Dutton) was part of the process. Peter had access to the information and he never had a serious discussion with me at all on the Voice.”
The former Liberal MP said he had a real fear of a “strong no” and what that would mean for Indigenous policy in the years ahead.
“And whether the government will become reticent to be adventurous on doing significant reforms in the future in the Aboriginal affairs portfolio and on programs and policies that could reshape the landscape of Aboriginal affairs and the way in which Aboriginal people access the plethora of services that we all take for granted across this nation as our inherent right.”
Mr Wyatt also hit out at the No campaign for using “Trumpian” tactics.
Mr Dutton said the opposition had conducted itself during the campaign in a “respectful way”.
“In the end, this thing is permanent, it’s divisive, and it hasn’t been properly explained to Australians and it’s not going to provide the practical outcomes that we want to see for all Indigenous Australians,” he told Sky News.
Mr Dutton also accused Mr Albanese of being “obsessed” with the Voice for the last 16 months, and in doing so he had “lost the faith of a lot of Australians”.
“There’s a lot of pressure on families and small businesses right around the country, and I think the Prime Minister has got to get back to those priorities,” he said.
Mr Pearson said a Voice would ensure Indigenous Australians struggling with the cost of living get the assistance they need.
“Cost of living is top of mind for (Indigenous people in remote communities). The thing about the Voice is that it represents a solution to many of the things that ordinary Australians believe is absolutely important to them,” he said.
“It’s important to our people as well.”