The BGA Australia team, led by Managing Director Michael “Mick” McNeill, wrote an update to clients on Australia’s recent referendum.


  • Australia’s national referendum seeking to establish an indigenous “Voice to Parliament” in the Australian Constitution was resoundingly defeated on October 14. Defeated nationally and in every state, the referendum has cast criticism on the judgement of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and corporate Australia ahead of an election that will likely be held within the next 18 months.
  • The “yes” vote seeking to constitutionally recognize Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament was rejected by 60 percent nationally. Some have interpreted the result as a repudiation of progressive elites, comparing it to the 2016 Brexit referendum that saw the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.


  • Albanese expended significant political capital supporting the “yes” campaign at a time of rising interest rates and heightened cost-of-living concerns. Although there is no immediate threat to his leadership of the Labor Party, Albanese’s political judgement has come under question.
  • Albanese is expected to move quickly to address cost-of-living concerns in outer suburban seats critical to Labor’s hold on power; however, his attempt to reset the political agenda will be complicated by overseas travel. In a three-week period, the prime minister will visit the United States (October 23-26) and China and attend the leaders’ meetings of the Pacific Islands Forum and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.


  • Thirteen of the top 20 businesses listed on the Australian Securities Exchange publicly backed the “yes” campaign, with some donating to the cause. Following the referendum’s defeat, Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Bran Black redoubled his support for the Voice, stating it has an opportunity to provide a consultation and partnership mechanism and increase opportunities for Indigenous Australians.
  • Companies should note that the next election, expected to be held in the first half of 2025, will likely be a competitive race. A minority government is a serious possibility after the next election; Labor has dipped in recent polls and holds a narrow majority.

We will continue to keep you updated on developments in Australia as they occur. If you have any questions or comments, please contact BGA Australia Managing Director Michael “Mick” McNeill at

Best regards,

BGA Australia Team