Opponents argue that the Voice would make Australia less equal by giving Indigenous people special rights.
“I want to see Australia move forward as one, not two, divided,” Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, an opposition lawmaker who is Indigenous, said in a parliamentary speech. “This is a dangerous and costly proposal; it is legally risky and full of unknowns.”
In a statement, Advance, the conservative group leading the “No” campaign, added: “Australians who do not want their Constitution to divide us by race are not racists. In fact, the opposite is true.”
But, observers said, colonial tropes remain at play.
“Some people are of the view that Indigenous people have already had enough advantages and government payments, and going any further is just some sort of exercise in making us feel guilty for the success of this country,” said Mark Kenny, a political commentator and professor at the Australian National University. “This is a very potent message that seems to resonate with a number of people.”