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Two in three Central West voters have rejected an Indigenous Voice to Parliament

October 14, 2023

Yes volunteers at Orange Public School on October 14, 2023. Despite polls pointing to a loss, volunteers remained hopeful throughout the day. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes

The referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament has failed to garner the required votes around Australia, and it will not be enshrined in the Australian Constitution.

At 7:24pm the ABC's election analyst Antony Green made the prediction that the referendum would not succeed.

In the NSW Central West electorate of Calare, there are around 123,000 enrolled voters.

Calare covers an area from Lithgow in the east to Eugowra in the west, Wellington and Mid-Western Regional Councils in the north to Blayney Shire Council and Oberon Council in the south.

The main cities and towns include Bathurst, Blayney, Canowindra, Eugowra, Gulgong, Kandos, Lithgow, Molong, Oberon, Orange, Mudgee, Portland, Rylstone, Wallerawang and Yeoval.

With nearly half of the vote counted, the people of Calare have resoundingly rejected the idea of acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian Constitution, and allowing them to have a Voice to Parliament.

With around 50,000 Calare votes counted, the Yes vote was at about 32 percent and the No vote at 68 percent.

Leading No campaigner Lidia Thorpe said on ABC TV the country needed a Treaty first. She described the referendum as "a bad idea in the first place".

At 8:30pm the national vote was 43 percent Yes and 57 percent No.

Orange deputy mayor Gerald Power told The Orange News Examiner on Saturday night that it was a "disappointing" result.

"Australia has spoken," he said.

He said he had hoped that recognition of First Nations people in the Australian Constitution would have occurred in his lifetime, for himself and his ancestors.

"We won't give up," he said. "We are resilient and we will continue to move forward. That's what we've always done, since 1788. I think democracy is a beautiful thing, it's what this nation is made of, and that's where we are at.

"The No campaign said this would divide us, but we want Australians to be together. The people in Calare voted No on the information they have received, and we must all respect that."

Power said that "at NAIDOC next week we will celebrate our culture here in Orange. I'm excited about that, this is where us mob and everyone else can come together, thousands of us, and march down the street.

"We have not received recognition and been given a voice in the Australian Constitution, but we will continue to move forward."

You can see Calare results here and the national vote here.

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