The launch of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament campaign in London took an unexpected turn as Australian drag queen Karla Bear became the focal point of the event. Adorned in the Australian and Aboriginal flags, Bear delivered a rendition of John Farnham’s “You’re the Voice,” leaving the crowd of about 100 divided and sparking a viral response on social media.
The controversial launch, which was considered the official anthem of the “Yes” campaign, prompted varied reactions. Sky News host Rita Panahi questioned the campaign’s strategy, stating, “At some point they’ll get sick of kicking own goals.” Historian Stephen Chavura sarcastically commented, “Good to see the Yes campaign so in touch with Indigenous culture.” The mixed messaging and unconventional approach of the campaign drew attention and raised questions about its effectiveness.
Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard also made a surprising appearance at the event. While acknowledging progress in Indigenous education and land rights, Gillard emphasized the importance of hearing the “true Voice” of the community. Her speech, which marked a rare intervention in domestic politics, highlighted the desperation of the campaign to gain support.
However, despite the efforts of Gillard and other proponents of the Voice proposal, the latest polls indicate a decline in public support. Only 36% of Australians are in favor of the proposed constitutional alteration to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, while opposition has risen to 56%. This poses a significant challenge for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as he seeks to sway undecided voters in the lead up to the referendum.
Interestingly, Australians abroad have already begun voting, with the anticipation of a significant turnout at the largest polling booth in the UK. This indicates the considerable interest and engagement of the Australian diaspora in the outcome of the referendum.
With less than three weeks until the historic vote, the nation eagerly awaits the final verdict on the Indigenous Voice proposal. The mixed response to the campaign launch, combined with the shifting public opinion, suggests that the outcome of the referendum remains uncertain. Whether the Indigenous Voice to Parliament will become a reality or face further challenges in its implementation is yet to be seen.