1st LD: Australian PM commits failure in Indigenous Voice referendum

CANBERRA, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has committed the failure in the country's first referendum in the 21st century, with voters to decide on whether or not to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

"I never imagined or indeed said that it would be easy. Very few things in public life worth doing are. Nor could I guarantee the referendum would succeed. History told us that only eight out of 44 had done so," said Albanese, adding that "and of course, when you do the hard things, when you aim high, sometimes you fall short. And tonight we acknowledge, understand and respect that we have."

"My fellow Australians, at the outset, I want to say that while tonight's result is not one that I had hoped for, I absolutely respect the decision of the Australian people and the democratic process that has delivered it," said the prime minister.

Polling booths across Australia on Saturday opened for the referendum. Millions of Australians voted "yes" or "no" on the proposal to alter the constitution to recognize the First Peoples of Australia by establishing the Voice, which would advise the federal parliament on all issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In order for the constitution to be changed, the "yes" vote must secure a double majority, meaning that more than 50 percent of voters nationally as well as a majority in at least four out of Australia's six states must vote in favor. Voting is mandatory for Australians aged 18 and over who are registered on the electoral roll.

Only eight of the 44 referendums in Australian history have achieved a double majority "yes" vote, the most recent of which was in 1977. Five more referendums achieved a majority in favor nationally but failed to secure majority support in enough states.

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