This week, the Australian Senate officially voted to confirm that Australia will have its first referendum in 24 years. A vote will be held on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament by the end of the year.
As part of the coverage ahead of the vote, The Australian Financial Review is reporting that News Corp-owned Sky News Australia is looking into launching a 24/7 channel dedicated to the referendum.
When the referendum was first proposed last year, News Corp Australia announced that it would support a debate surrounding enshrining of an Indigenous voice to the Australian parliament, and highlighted that the business is committed to reconciliation. Australasian executive chairman Michael Miller announced full page ads across all of the company’s mastheads.
The Statement also called for a Makarrata Commission, which will “supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history”.
The move aimed to prove the separation between the corporate voice and the editorial voices of News Corp Australia – however, by June 2022, News Corp editorial had already taken a dive into multiple positions on the demands of The Uluru Statement from the Heart.
At the time, the now defunct Oz ran an explainer on their site that said “it’s not as simple as Conservative vs. Progressive,” in The Australian Chris Kenny wrote that an Indigenous voice to parliament embodies a “fair go,” and Dean Parkin, director of From the Heart, wrote an article in the Courier Mail describing how the voice is “a win for all Australians.”
On the flip side of the coin, at the time the statement was made Sky News’s Peta Credlin said that the voice “isn’t needed“, James Campbell wrote in The Sunday Telegraph that history is “not on the side” of the vote, and Rita Panahi warned against “toxic identity politics” in an article throwing her support behind Peter Dutton.
As it stands, Australia is one of only a handful of Commonwealth nations that do not have a treaty or treaties with its Indigenous people. The proposed Voice to Parliament was made as part of the Uluru Statement from the Heart back in 2017. When the referendum takes place, the question on the ballot paper will be:
A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?