South Australians have overwhelmingly rejected a constitutionally-enshrined Voice to Parliament, with more than 60 per cent of voters backing the No camp.

Key points:

  • South Australia’s No vote was a decisive moment in the defeat of the Voice proposal
  • Liberal Senator Kerrynne Liddle says she isn’t at all surprised by SA’s outcome
  • Premier Peter Malinauskas says the No victory will not impact state Voice plans

After predictions during the campaign that South Australia would prove “pivotal” to the outcome, the state’s rejection of the proposal proved the decisive moment in the Voice’s defeat.

Less than an hour after polls closed in SA — at a time when voting was still underway in Western Australia — the ABC projected that a majority of the South Australian electorate had voted No to the proposed constitutional change.

That projection came after similar ones for New South Wales and Tasmania, meaning the Voice would not have the support of the necessary majority of states to pass.

When the SA and national results were declared, some voters in WA were still waiting to cast their ballots.

The ABC has since projected that voters in WA, as well as in Queensland and Victoria, have also rejected the Voice — meaning not a single state supported the Yes case.

In SA, the vote count has revealed a tale of two cities, with the highest Yes results in Adelaide’s CBD and the inner suburban electorates, and higher No votes in outer suburbs, as well as regional parts of the state.

A person holds a how-to-vote card in the Voice referendum.(ABC News: Ethan Rix)

Despite SA being regarded by some campaigners as a crucial battleground and a potential Yes state, SA Liberal Senator Kerrynne Liddle said the result there was entirely consistent with her predictions.

“We have a No vote here in South Australia — that’s certainly reflective of what the Aboriginal people I’ve been talking to have been telling me,” she said.

“I wasn’t surprised that South Australia voted No. We’ve got a state-based Voice that we haven’t seen operating. We were promised they were going early so they could show us how this would work.

“Yet that’s been parked and we won’t see anything until March next year, so I’m not surprised that Aboriginal South Australians said No because they didn’t have enough detail for that legislative change for a Voice.”

Senator Liddle was one of the most prominent South Australian opponents of the proposed Voice, and said it was regrettable that the “whole campaign” had been “based on emotion”.

She stopped short of backing state Liberal leader David Speirs’s call for the prime minister to resign in the event of a heavy No vote.

“I’m certainly not calling for his resignation but what I will say is that this has been a terrible chapter in Australia’s history,” Senator Liddle said.

SA Liberal Senator Kerrynne Liddle with voting material.(ABC News: Shari Hams)

“The divisive way that this campaign has been conducted by some — that’s really sad. We’ve seen families arguing at the kitchen table, we’ve seen communities arguing about their position, we’ve seen people in workplaces being silenced by their workplaces taking a position on this.

“They didn’t say no to reconciliation, they did not say no to improving the lives of Indigenous Australians.”

That last sentiment was shared by SA Labor Senator and Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong who, while disappointed, said she respected the outcome.

Labor MPs Penny Wong and Amanda Rishworth speak in favour of the Voice on voting day.(ABC News: Ethan Rix)

“In this vote, no-one argued against closing the gap, no-one argued against listening,” she said.

“There are parts of South Australia which were supportive of the Voice, there are a lot of parts of South Australia which weren’t and we accept that result. Obviously, it’s not what we hoped for.

“[But] there’s a moment now where the country needs to come together … to chart a path forward on reconciliation, and how we do close the gap and how we do listen to our First Nations people.”

Yes campaigners react to the outcome in Adelaide.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Outcome won’t impact state Voice, premier says

Speaking earlier today, Mr Speirs said that a defeat of the Yes case would cause “a lot of soul searching” throughout the state and the nation.

“The No vote had a sense of traction in the community, and I’m not jubilant about that, I’m not partying about that,” he said.

“It’s an outcome that should be respected but it’s a solemn moment, I think it’s solemn because of the level of division that has been wrought across this nation because of this unbecoming campaign.

“The people that I represent in the southern suburbs, who are replicated in every city around this state — I’m not sure they want to be lectured to by corporate elites, I’m not sure they want to be lectured by sports stars.”

Flags in Adelaide’s CBD in the lead-up to the referendum.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

Also speaking earlier today, SA Premier Peter Malinauskas said that the outcome of the referendum would not impede the state Voice.

“I think it’s really unfortunate that our nation’s birth certificate, our constitution, neglected to mention the traditional owners of the land,” he said.

“Regardless of the outcome today in South Australia, we’ve already taken that big step to legislate for a Voice to Parliament and we look to those elections early next year and the implementation of the state Voice to Parliament.”

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