A key figure in the Yes campaign has dropped a major clue on the date Australians will vote in the upcoming referendum, flagging a potential weekend in October or November – after the AFL and NRL grand finals.
As it stands, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has not announced a date for the referendum which will ask voters whether they approve of altering the Constitution to “recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice”.
However, while attending a Sydney campaign event for the Yes23 campaign on Sunday, voice architect Noel Pearson said he believed Australians would head to the polls by November.
“Our constitution says once you get it out of the hands of the politicians, you’ve got to have the referendum no later than six months no earlier than two months from that date,” he said.
“So that means (October to November) will be the last opportunity to have the referendum and I’m sure the government will announce one of those weekends.”
Mr Pearson also brushed off calls for the referendum to be delayed till next year, labelling it as “just a furphy”.
“It’s just a distraction for people to talk about delaying the referendum date,” he said.
Earlier this month, Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg – who has advocated for a Yes vote – told 2GB he believed more campaigning would increase hopes of the referendum “building bipartisan support”.
He also advocated establishing a strengthened committee to run for about five months, to fine tune the proposed amendment’s legal and constitutional details. The referendum would then be held in “the middle of next year”.
“I fear the process has not yielded enough consensus to garner a Yes vote. And I think it would be worth recalibrating at this stage, to save the concept and deliver a successful referendum,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s in the interest of the country that a referendum on reconciliation is defeated.”
However Mr Pearson disagreed and said he was “very confident” voters the Yes campaign would strike a chord with voters before October or November.
“I’m very confident the campaign will get the message out to people by then, that’s the size of two or three election campaigns in terms of time,” he said.
“So I think that’s going to be long enough for Australians to understand what this vote is all about.”
According to the latest Newspoll measuring the sentiment towards the voice referendum, the yes vote slumped to 41 per cent in July, with the no vote increasing to 48 per cent.
11 per cent of the 1570 people surveyed said they were undecided.