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A visibly emotional Anthony Albanese has called for unity after the Voice to parliament referendum suffered a spectacular wipe-out.

Speaking in Canberra on Saturday night nearly two hours after the vote was called for No, the Prime Minister said he accepted the outcome, and took “responsibility” for the decision to hold the referendum.

“While tonight’s result is not one that I had hoped for, I absolutely respect the decision of the Australian people and the democratic process that has delivered it, he said.

“When we reflect on everything happening in the world today, we can all give thanks that here in Australia we make the big decisions peacefully and as equals, with one vote, one value.”

He conceded at no point could he have “guaranteed the referendum would succeed”.

“What I could promise was that we would go all in, that we would try, and we have,” he said.

“Of course, when you do the hard things, when you aim high, sometimes you fall short. And tonight we acknowledge, understand and respect that we have.”

Mr Albanese said the campaign would be a “heavy weight to carry,” especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“So many remarkable Indigenous Australians have put their heart and soul into this cause, not just over the past few weeks and months but through decades, indeed lifetimes, of advocacy,” she said.

Appearing alongside him, Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney appeared to be taking deep breaths and holding back tears.

Speaking about Ms Burney, he credited her as an inspiration.

“You continue to inspire me and make me prouder than ever to be Australian. I have never been as proud to be Australian as when I sat in the red dirt at Uluru with those wonderful women,” he said.

“I have made lifetime friends, and for that I am grateful.”

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By Rahul

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