I’m thinking today about the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people whose love and labour brought us to this historic Referendum.
Their work through the Uluṟu Dialogues that culminated in the 2017 Uluṟu Statement from the Heart and their courage to extend the invitation not to politicians, but to the Australian people.
As a country, we have decided not to accept the invitation from the heart for constitutional recognition in the form of a Voice to Parliament that can give advice on issues that affect First Nations people. This is a very tough time for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It has been a bruising debate; there is hurt and great disappointment and many will need time to process, grieve and begin talking about the path forward.
I’m grateful for the efforts of so many Canberrans yesterday and across the weeks and months leading up to this vote. We must take the resounding yes the ACT delivered overnight with the utmost seriousness and do something with it.
My thoughts are also with the many First Nations peoples who have fought so long and so hard for the Voice and what they have been through during the campaign. Thank you for your courage, your commitment and your deep generosity.
I’ve had many discussions with people who voted no, not because they don't want to see better outcomes for First Nations Peoples, but because they didn’t agree with the process or because they were guided by the doubts, fear and confusion sown during this debate.
We have to find a path forward. It can’t wait another generation. The work must continue.