The Four Voices of the NO Campaign


A few introductory remarks (since this is such a passionate topic):

  1. This is based on my personal sphere, I’m not pretending it is representative of the wider community
  2. This won’t discuss any of the issues, it is purely about the groups that are voting No
  3. It will likely be updated based on feedback from smart people than me

As I see it there are four main groups (‘voices’) voting No.

Group 1: The Misinformed

These are the people who have been pulled into a mire of misinformation and are angry.

They are passionately voting No, fed up with all the injustices they associate (from said misinformation) with the referendum.

They are often older, white, privileged people, and you’ll likely have one or two in your extended family.

They’re the ones forwarding on badly formatted, chain emails, chock full of crazy notions and cherry picked Sky News After dark stories.

They are the noisiest group by far.

Group 2: The Intelligent Informed

These are thoughtful, intelligent people who have valid and considered concerns about the referendum.

They have read widely, probably understand the nuances better than you and have come to their decision based on the details.

Chatting with these people is wonderful, but uncomfortable – since they challenge and are at odds with our own strongly held views.

(Reminder: this article isn’t about the issues, so I won’t dive into what their valid concerns might be. Instead I’m just acknowledging that there are valid points on both sides. I think the referendum booklet itself does a fair job of highlighting this)

Group 3: The Contrarian

These are the people who will make their choice based on the opposite of what most of their peers do.

There’s a spectrum here – some people just want to be contrarian to be a little different. To be an individual. That’s fine with me. You do you.

Others want to be contrarian purely to drum up attention for themselves, even if it means inciting division. Fuck those people.

Group 4: The Overwhelmed

People who haven’t had time to understand what this whole Voice thing is all about.

These are the hard working people looking after their families and providing for their kids’ future:

  • The tradie who gets up at 4am to be onsite early so he can leave early to pick up his kids from childcare because is wife (who dropped them to childcare in the morning) can work late on her second job
  • The healthcare worker who does regular double shifts looking after the sick during a crisis, but gets little in the way of thanks
  • The person delivering your Amazon package after hours – you can bet it’s their second job as they try to make ends meet
  • The retail worker who travels hours each day because their salary won’t even cover rent close to work
  • The parents who saved hard hoping the one big special treat they could provide their daughter was a ticket to Taylor Swift, but of course they missed out because they didn’t have an army of laptops and extra PCs logged in

These people aren’t racist, or privileged, or unkind, or on the ‘wrong side of history’. They’re simply overwhelmed – focussed on putting food on the table. 

The Breakdown

Based purely on my small, non-representative, sphere of people, here’s what the breakdown of No voters looks like in my world:

  • Group 1: Misinformed: a few people that I know (and in spite of everything, love deeply)
  • Group 2: Intelligent informed: a number of people, more than I expected
  • Group 3: Contrarian: Hardly anyone I know personally, although a bunch I see online
  • Group 4: Overwhelmed: The biggest by far. Most people I know who are voting No are in this group

The Problem

I’m glad to see the new Yes video with Farnsey rolling out, and I’m hopeful it helps.

But the biggest problem I see with the vocal Yes campaigners is they assume everyone voting No is in Group 1 (Misinformed).

They post unhelpful updates like this:

I don’t understand this approach. It’s somehow trying to shame people into voting Yes.

Let’s be realistic here – nobody in Group 1 is going to be changing their mind, no matter how many facts you show them. And they certainly won’t be influenced by shaming. 

Likewise Group 2. They’ve made up their mind after much consideration.

Group 3. Possibly this kind of response has an impact, but I doubt it.

However, Group 4…

Imagine interrupting a family who are struggling through a cost of living crisis, increased mortgage payments & juggling multiple jobs to make ends meet, and asking them to vote on a change to our constitution that has no impact on them. That’s a big ask in the first place.

But to then suggest they’re in league with klan fans and creepy racists if they’re voting No.

Just bizarre.

The Concern

The Yes vote is important to me, but I can totally understand why it’s not for many. 

I’m going to be terribly disappointed if the No vote ‘wins’. But I suspect it is likely.

If the No vote wins, the focus will probably be on further demonising the Group 1 Misinformed. 

But the real focus should be on the Yes campaigners who thought shaming hard working, overwhelmed families was a good approach for winning over hearts and minds.

Add comment

By Craig Bailey