In October the voice referendum to recognise indigenous people in the constitution and install a voice to parliament was defeated in all states, continuing a history of referendums failing to obtain a public mandate.

To study the public mood underlying the referendum the Australian National University conducted a survey of 4,200 people to gauge attitudes and reasons behind voting decisions.

Stephen Hill asked Professor of Political Science, Dr Ian McAllister, about what this study has to say about where the public sits in regards to indigenous policy.

According to Dr. McAllister the ANU research showed there remains strong public support for initiatives that improve the quality of life of indigenous Australians, but during the Voice campaign there developed public scepticism that the Voice model was the best way in which to address social disadvantage.

Looking at the causes for the referendum defeat, Dr. McAllister suggests the inability of Anthony Albanese to obtain bi-partisanship prevented the initiative from obtaining public approval. This is backed up by the results of the survey which observed a big switch in support for the Voice referendum in May 2023 when opposition leader Peter Dutton announced his opposition to the Voice to parliament. This saw the support for the Voice to Parliament from Liberal voters dwindle from 30% in January to 9% in May.

A detailed copy of the ANU survey report can be found at:




Image: Shutterstock – Leanne Irwin

Produced By: Stephen Hill

Featured In Story: Dr Ian McAllister, Professor of Political Science at Australian National University, , and

First aired on The Wire, Wednesday 6 December 2023