Arrest, hospitalisation after violent clash over Voice voting

PM confident in Yes vote after latest polling

One man has been seriously injured and another charged after an apparent violent clash outside an early polling booth in Queensland.

Queensland Police allege there was a “verbal altercation” between a 65-year-old man and another aged 30 at an early voting centre in North Ipswich on October 3.

The confrontation started as a shouting match between Yes and No sides before escalating into violence. The 30-year-old is accused of then assaulting the older man.

He was taken into custody and has been charged with serious assault. He will appear in Ipswich Magistrates Court on November 17.

The 65-year-old, who reportedly suffered head injuries, was taken to Ipswich Hospital for treatment.

Reports of the Queensland clash came as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese headed for the spiritual heart of the country as part of a final push for the Indigenous Voice just days out from the referendum.

Albanese flew to Uluru on Tuesday, ahead of a meeting with representatives from the Central Land Council.

The visit is part of a nationwide blitz advocating for enshrining an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and executive government in the constitution ahead of Saturday’s referendum.

Albanese told Adelaide radio station 5AA there was nothing to fear from the Voice proposal.

“It won’t make a difference to the way that we’re governed but what it will do is enable us to listen,” he said on Tuesday.

“A vote for ‘no’ is a vote to keep things the same, to say that this is as good as it gets for Indigenous Australians. But surely we can do better.”

The visit to Uluru will be more than six years since the call for the Indigenous voice was laid out as part of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Meanwhile, the Australian Electoral Commission has expressed concern over “unacceptable conduct” of some voters ahead of Saturday’s referendum.

With millions of people voting early, electoral commissioner Tom Rogers urged greater civility, saying tensions were higher than at a federal election.

“That’s probably a reflection of the kind of debate that we’re seeing in public in any case, which I think during a referendum always tends to be a bit more visceral than at a normal election,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

“A referendum unleashes passions that can boil over and we’ve seen what I would call unacceptable conduct, including some filming of our staff who are just trying to do the right thing.”

More than 21,800 people have cast votes in remote communities before polling day – exceeding all remote votes cast in last year’s federal election.

So far, across Australia, 2.87 million votes have been cast.

Rogers said he was aware of misinformation being circulated by campaigners about the referendum process, calling it “nonsense”.

“Votes are treated with the utmost respect; we treat them like a democratic blank cheque that we cash on behalf of all Australians,” he said.

The comments came as research from the University of Melbourne into popular Chinese messaging app WeChat found discussion about the Voice on the platform had been dominated by right-wing rhetoric and misinformation.

One particular account called YamiChew published No campaign videos featuring misinformation about the potential for the Voice to undermine constitutional integrity and Indigenous privilege.

The videos have received tens of thousands of reposts and hundreds of comments.

By contrast, pro-Voice content and videos from official political groups were lucky to receive more than 20 likes.

Albanese has accused Opposition Leader Peter Dutton of taking part in the spread of misinformation.

Dutton, meanwhile, continues to claim the Voice will divide Australians and waste taxpayer money that could spent on practical solutions.

“[Albanese] has divided the country,” he told Sky News.

“I hope that people do make the effort to get out and vote because this would be the most detrimental change to our constitution in our nation’s history.

“We live in the best country in the world – we should be prepared to stand up and defend it to make sure that our institutions are protected.”

-with AAP

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