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Dutton says second referendum 'unlikely' despite Coalition's pledge

Politics

Australians are unlikely to get a second chance to recognise Indigenous people in the constitution in the near future, despite a coalition pledge.

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The Indigenous voice referendum was defeated on Saturday, with all states voting the proposal down and only the ACT casting a ‘yes’ majority vote.

In the lead up to polling day, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton pledged if elected the coalition would hold a second Indigenous referendum to make a simple change recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the constitution.

Asked on Monday if he would still hold a second referendum if elected, Mr Dutton would not commit to it.

The party’s policy was going to be reviewed by opposition Indigenous Australians spokeswoman Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Liberal senator Kerrynne Liddle, he said.

“All of our policy, as I said on Saturday night, is going to be reviewed in the process that Kerrynne and Jacinta will lead now,” Mr Dutton told reporters in Canberra.

“I think that’s important but I think it’s clear the Australian public is probably over the referendum process for some time.”

Nationals leader David Littleproud said “there’ll be no other referendum”, as the people had spoken.

“The Australian people are over referendums. What they want us to focus on now is the practical outcomes to fix indigenous communities where there are disadvantage,” he told AAP on Monday.

“You’ve got to understand the mood of the nation.

“We don’t want to put the Australian people through this trauma again anytime soon.”

Former Liberal seats now held by so-called teal independents recorded a strong ‘yes’ vote.

In the Sydney seat of Wentworth, held by independent MP Allegra Spender, just over 62 per cent of her electorate voted in favour of the voice.

And Liberal frontbencher Paul Fletcher’s Sydney seat of Bradfield was among the few seats to back the ‘yes’ case.

Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley said it was wrong to suggest the teal-held seats would not come back to her party.

“This is a separate question with separate issues at stake,” she told Sky News.

“We did see many Labor seats vote ‘no’ and vote ‘no’ quite strongly.”

Asked if the strong support for the voice was a political issue for the coalition, Mr Littleproud said the issue would not be resonating at the next federal election due in 2025.

“All the prime minister’s done in 16 months is drive up everyone’s cost of living and divide the country,” he said.

“But he’ll be answerable to the Australian people in 18 months about the cost of living pressures.”

Leading ‘yes’ campaigners warned Australians ahead of Saturday’s referendum it was a once-in-a-generation chance to change the constitution.

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