SYDNEY (Reuters) – Fewer than half of all Australian voters are supporting a proposal to include an Indigenous advisory body in the constitution that will be put to a referendum later this year, the latest opinion poll showed on Monday.
About 46% will vote yes to having the new advisory body, called the Indigenous “Voice to Parliament”, while 43% would vote no, according to the Newspoll survey published in the Australian newspaper on Monday.
Some 11% say they didn’t know or are undecided.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, making up about 3.2% of Australia’s near 26 million population, track below national averages on most socio-economic measures and are not mentioned in the 122-year-old constitution. They were marginalised by British colonial rulers and not granted voting rights until the 1960s.
The poll comes just days after the referendum legislation cleared its first parliamentary hurdle as it was passed in the House of Representatives.
This is the first survey to poll voters on the precise question they will be asked at the ballot box when the referendum is held, expected between October and December.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’ government has been backing the referendum and has staked significant political capital on it. Top sporting codes and several major corporations have proclaimed support for the campaign.
But support for the campaign has been dipping in recent weeks. Another poll last month found the yes vote dipping to 53% from 58% earlier this year.
Groups opposing the constitutional change strengthened their campaign and urged people to vote ‘No’ in the referendum. While a majority of Indigenous people support the Voice, others argue it is a distraction from achieving practical and positive outcomes.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon; editing by Ediring by Michael Perry)