The flea in the Voice vote

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By ERWIN CHLANDA

The credibility of the Voice – should it become a reality – will be in the hands of voters in the referendum – should it become a reality – courtesy the Australian Parliament.

With just one percent of the nation’s population the Territory is unlikely to rock the boat and so a look at Territory voting patterns are an exercise in futility. 

More than half of voters in at least four of the six states must vote “yes” for the pro-Voice campaign to succeed. 

The Northern Territory, notwithstanding that it has a per-capita Aboriginal population 10 times grater than the rest of the nation (3.2% vs 30.8%), doesn’t get a guernsey in that part of the referendum because we are not a state.

We are counted in the other part, a national majority (more than half) of voters from all states and territories needing to vote “yes” for the Voice to become part of the Constitution.

Here’s a squiz at Territory Parliamentary seats in The Centre.

Look at Araluen. The 2021 Census put the population of 18 years and over – voting age – at 7470. 

But only 5742 were enrolled for the 2020 NT election. 

Proportions are not known of the balance of 1728 people: Were they too slack to enrol? Or were they Yanks from Pine Gap? Or whatever.

The lack of detail (see our table) about “People in Census ineligible to enrol or did not enrol” is unfortunate. 

In Araluen 78% enrolled people voted but that makes up just over 60% of the Census population. 

Braitling had a turn-out of 77% in 2020, a bit more than three quarters of enrolled voters.

Two predominantly Aboriginal seats, Barkly and Gwoja, have in common that their enrolments are impressive (just 7% are not on the roll) while their voting percentage is disastrous: 63% turned up to cast their votes in Barkly and just over half the enrolled voters did in Gwoja (53%).

Namatjira had 66% but 2069 people counted in the Census did not finish up on the roll of 5728.

To define that left out cohort more clearly would enhance local political discussion, although nine out of 10 eligible Territorians are now on the electoral roll. That’s 17,000 people who are not.

The size of the NT electoral roll and enrolment rate as at 31 December 2022: Electors enrolled 149,037; estimated eligible population 166,022; enrolment rate 89.8%, estimated not on the roll 16,985.

Estimated NT Indigenous voting age population 53,959; estimated Indigenous enrolled 41,384; estimated Indigenous unenrolled 12,575; enrolment rate 84.5%.

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