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Dutton backtracks on second referendum, says 'no' is good result for Australia

Jarred Cross -

Opposition leader Peter Dutton has backed off from his commitment to a second referendum for constitutional recognition of First Peoples less than 48 hours after Australia rejected the Voice proposal.

In the final stages of campaigning, Mr Dutton committed to a national vote for recognition alone and a legislated Voice model in the event of a failed referendum.

On Monday, Mr Dutton walked back his promise of a second referendum.

"Look, all of our policy, obviously as I said on Saturday night, is going to be reviewed in the process that Kerrynne (Liddle) and Jacinta (Price) will lead now. I think that's important, but I think it's clear that the Australian public is probably over the referendum process for some time," he said in Canberra.

Indigenous senators Jacinta Price and Kerrynne Liddle had been leading no voices from within the coalition after official positions against the Voice were declared.

The referendum's failure was called within hours of the vote-count beginning.

On Saturday, Mr Dutton said the result was "good for our country" and the majority of Australians would be "pleased" with the outcome.

"The Coalition, like all Australians, wants to see Indigenous disadvantage addressed. We just disagree on the Voice being the solution. And why yes or no voters may hold differences of opinion, these opinions of difference did not diminish our love for our country or our regard for each other," he said.

He acknowledged the "hurt" some First Nations Australians would be feeling.

Mr Dutton was critical of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for providing a lack of detail and his process in the lead up.

"What we've seen tonight is Australians, literally in their millions, reject the Prime Minister's divisive referendum," Mr Dutton said.

"People from all sides of this debate are rightly and understandably disappointed with the Prime Minister. He's held the pin of this divisive chapter in our nation's history. And if he has any strength in his leadership, he must take responsibility for it."

He laid out commitments to "practical solutions required to improve outcomes and close the gap" including a Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities and an audit of Indigenous program spending.

On Monday, he reiterated this focus with a warning to the PM.

"If the Prime Minister stands up, instead of being dictated to by activists and people who are out of touch in corporate boards around the country, and start listening and acting, then we can make a change; but if you pretend that sexual assaults on children is not a reality, if you pretend that domestic violence is not taking place, if you pretend that the billions of dollars are being spent adequately, then I promise you, you'll condemn yourself to the same mistakes of the last decades. I don't intend to do that," he said.


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