Yes campaign received millions more than No vote

The movement to create an Indigenous Voice to parliament was backed by tens of millions of dollars from Australia’s biggest corporations but eclipsed by opponents who had about five times less money to spend on the bitterly fought referendum.

Half a year on from the historic reconciliation setback, the Australian Electoral Commission released data showing the main campaigners behind the Voice push, led by Yes23 and the Uluru Dialogues, raked in nearly $60 million to spend on advertising.

No advocates have claimed the Voice to parliament referendum stoked division in Australia.

No advocates have claimed the Voice to parliament referendum stoked division in Australia.Credit: Flavio Brancaleone

Yes23 fundraising body Australians for Indigenous Constitutional Recognition (AICR) received $47.5 million. Left-wing group GetUp gathered $1.7 million, and the Labor Party secured $400,000.

AICR spent $3.5 million less than it collected in donations. A spokesperson said the body’s board was still determining how the excess cash would be spent.

Their opponents on the No side, led by right-wing campaigners Advance and fundraising body Australians for Unity, received about $13 million for its campaign run alongside Coalition figures Peter Dutton and Jacinta Nampijinpa Price.

While high-profile figures such as Malcolm Turnbull gave $50,000 to the Yes side, the No side was funded largely by lesser-known conservative business people and philanthropists such as Bryant Macfie, a long-time donor to right-wing think tanks, who gave $800,000 and Bakers Delight founder Roger Gillespie who contributed $90,000.

Mining magnate Clive Palmer spent $1.9 million on anti-Voice ads and the former boss of BHP, Maius Kloppers, gave the No side $100,000. But Kloppers’ old firm and its blue-chip counterparts swung heavily behind the Yes campaign, earning a rebuke from Price.

MYOB founder Craig Winkler’s firm gave $4.5 million to the Yes-aligned Uluru Dialogues. ANZ bank gave $2.5 million to the Yes23 funding body while Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, Wesfarmers, BHP, Rio Tinto, Woolworths Group, Woodside Energy and NAB all gave more than $1 million to the same organisation.

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