Australia has overwhelmingly rejected a plan to give greater rights to Indigenous people in a referendum.
All six states voted no to a proposal to change the constitution to recognise Indigenous citizens and create an advisory body to the government.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said defeat was hard: “When you aim high, sometimes you fall short. We understand and respect that we have.”
Opposition leader Peter Dutton said the result was “good for our country”.
The referendum, dubbed “The Voice”, was Australia’s first in more than a quarter of a century. With almost 70% of the vote counted, the “No” vote led “Yes” 60% to 40%.
Its rejection followed a fraught and often ill-tempered campaign.
Supporters said that entrenching the Indigenous peoples into the constitution would unite Australia and usher in a new era.
No leaders said that the idea was divisive, would create special “classes” of citizens where some were more equal than others, and the new advisory body would slow government decision-making.
They were criticised over their appeal to undecided voters with a “Don’t know? Vote no” message, and accused of running a campaign based on misinformation about the effects of the plan.
The result leaves Mr Albanese searching for a way forward with his vision for the country, and a resurgent opposition keen to capitalise on its victory. BBC