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Australia’s Brexit moment

William West/AFP/Getty

Australia has just had its Brexit moment, says The Sydney Morning Herald. On Saturday, the country went to the polls for a referendum on whether the constitution should be changed to formally recognise indigenous people, and to create a body for them – the “Voice” – to advise the government. It was Prime Minister Anthony Albanese who agreed to hold the ballot, and he pushed hard for “Yes”, backed by an array of progressive business leaders and celebrities. But the result was unequivocal: a whopping 60% of voters said “No”. The campaign was marred by “political lies and racism”. But as with Brexit – and indeed Donald Trump’s shock victory in 2016 – it would be a mistake for the losing side to make excuses. “A lot of decent people voted No, and we need to understand why.”

Gee, says Greg Sheridan in The Australian, you reckon? Only one place voted Yes: our capital, Canberra. “It’s a lovely small city situated close to a fascinating foreign country, Australia.” As in so many Western nations, the progressive elites who rule the roost here were certain they knew best. They “massively overreached”. The rest of us, including tens of thousands of indigenous people, voted No not out of racism, but as “an act of love” for indigenous Australians – a determination that they shouldn’t be “imprisoned in an identity politics category”. It was the American conservative William Buckley Jr who said he would “rather be ruled by the first 10 pages of the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty”. Australian voters have shown that they “know better than their betters. God bless ‘em.”