An official Yes logo, website and promotional materials will soon be unveiled as the ground campaign for the Voice to parliament launches this week amid growing concern that the proposal is being seen by voters as coming from politicians rather than from the ground up.
Campaigners for the Yes side will this week look to counter a perception in the community that the debate over the Voice has turned into a political squabble in Canberra after haggling over the wording of the proposed constitutional amendment and opposition calls for more detail.
Dean Parkin says Australians will be reminded that the Voice was not a proposal that started in Canberra.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer
Organisers expect about 400 people from around Australia to attend the Yes campaign’s launch in Adelaide next week, where supporters will attend two days of training in how to spread a pro-Voice message in their communities in a bid to generate a groundswell of momentum.
Rather than a high-profile national campaign, organisers are focusing on recruiting thousands of volunteers across the country to drum up support for the referendum and remind Australians that it was an anti-elitist idea that came out of the Uluru dialogues and not a proposal from Canberra.
“The community campaign launch in Adelaide is really about bringing the conversations back to where they should be, taking it away from the commentators and the politicians in Canberra and bringing it back to Australians in communities across the nation,” organiser Dean Parkin said.
The launch event on Thursday will mark the formal retirement of Parkin’s From the Heart organisation – one of the main campaign vehicles for the Voice over the past five years – and the transition to the Yes branding for the referendum.
Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney will travel this week to Orange to campaign for the Voice with independent MP Andrew Gee, who recently resigned from the Nationals over their opposition to the referendum.
Burney will also visit Tasmania, where she will meet Liberal MP Bridget Archer, and campaign in Melbourne.
“Momentum is building for constitutional recognition through Voice,” Burney told this masthead.
“This is the start of conversations across Australia about what the Voice is, why it is needed and how it will take Australia forward, for everyone.
“And I’m optimistic the week of action will be a springboard for a successful ‘Yes’ campaign for the Voice.”
The ground campaign will also be mobilised online through the “start a yarn” initiative run by the Uluru Dialogue – another key advocacy group chaired by Voice architects Megan Davis and Pat Anderson. The group is holding daily online “yarning circles” throughout the week aimed at answering questions from members of the public about the Voice.
Research conducted by the Yes campaign in recent weeks shows the No vote is increasing as nominally undecided voters crystallise their opposition to the proposal, but also that there is still a significant majority of Australians supporting the Voice. Meanwhile, the impact of the national debate was evident in focus groups where “soft” Yes voters were now more wary than they were before Christmas and seeking reassurance that the Voice would make a practical difference to the lives of Indigenous Australians.
Last month the Resolve Political Monitor showed Australians’ support for the Voice had fallen from 53 to 47 per cent. But when forced to answer only “yes” or “no” in a choice akin to a referendum, 60 per cent of Australians still backed the proposal.
The No campaign’s Indigenous leader, Warren Mundine, said he would be in WA progressing “a low-key grassroots campaign” while the Yes camp’s week of action was under way.
“I’m doing what I’ve normally been doing for the last few weeks – going and meeting with community groups, meeting different political groups and business groups, and having a conversation,” Mundine said.
He said there was no conflict between his Recognise a Better Way campaign and CLP senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price’s Fair Australia campaign, which is being funded by conservative political lobby group Advance Australia.
“Jacinta and I will be working together and we’ll be announcing tours that we’ll be doing together as well,” Mundine said.
This masthead can also reveal that Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who is yet to declare his position on the Voice and is calling for more detail to be made public on how the body will operate, will visit the Northern Territory and Western Australia this week.
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