Anthony Albanese will fire the starter’s gun on a six-week Voice referendum campaign by officially announcing the date of the vote in the must-win state of South Australia.
The Prime Minister will name the date, widely expected to be October 14, in the working-class Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth at a rally to be attended by hundreds of Yes supporters on Wednesday.
But he said he doesn’t expect most to tune into the campaign until the final weeks.
“People should read the question. If they read the question … I think a majority of Australians will come to an answer that there’s nothing to lose here. Only upside,” he said in Adelaide ahead of the campaign launch.
Mr Albanese said when “you get rid of all the noise” there was little difference between his position and the Liberals position on the Voice despite their “alarmist rhetoric.”
“ … they say they support recognition in our constitution. They say they support legislating a Voice,” the Prime Minister said.
“The only difference is that Aboriginal people have asked that it be enshrined in the constitution so it can’t simply be gotten rid of with a stroke of a pen”.
Wednesday’s declaration will give the Yes campaign six weeks to turn the tide for Indigenous constitutional recognition, as recent opinion polls suggest support has been flagging.
South Australia is expected to be a key battleground and recent opinion polls have earmarked the state, along with Tasmania, for a tight race.
Ahead of the launch, Voice architect Noel Pearson described Adelaide as the “epicentre” of the Yes campaign.
“South Australia is absolutely critical to this referendum, as it always has been to any progressive reform in this country,” he said.
“We’re going to be calling on South Australians to once again lead the country. To push the country forward to a new chapter.”
The Yes campaign needs to win four states and the national result for the referendum to be successful at achieving a “double majority”.
Marcus Stewart, a key Indigenous voice campaigner, noted while SA and Tasmania were “critically important” the Yes alliance could not take support in his home state of Victoria for granted.
“Right now we’ve got an emphasis on winning a majority of people in a majority of states and leaving no one behind. We’ve got to do the work,” Mr Stewart, member of the government’s referendum working group and inaugural co-chair of the First People’s Assembly of Victoria, said.
“We’ve got to do the work in Western Australia … and in Queensland as well. We are not taking anything for granted.
“We’re in to win this and we think we have a red hot chance of basically changing this country for the better.”
Mr Albanese has ruled out legislating a Voice to parliament if the bid for constitutional reform falls short, saying he will respect Australia’s wishes.