Based on as yet incomplete ABS counts, Hepburn Shire supported constitutional enshrinement of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament by a 53% to 47% margin.
However, an analysis of polling booth data from the ABS website indicates a clear east- west divide in the Shire. While polling booths in the east including Daylesford, Hepburn Springs, Glenlyon, Trentham, Drummond and Yandoit returned clear support, polling booths in the west of the Shire including Creswick, Creswick North, Clunes and Newlyn returned majorities in opposition.
|2022 Federal election
Overall, the Shire bucked the trend of rural and regional electorates supporting the No case with 53% of voters supporting the Yes case.
In national polls before the referendum, political affiliation was a strong predictor of voting preference with Labor voters indicating strong support for the Yes case and Coalition voters opposed. However, in the referendum vote many outer metropolitan Labor seats returned a no vote. Inner city seats, including all the Teal seats, were more likely to vote yes. Rural seats were more likely to vote no.
In Hepburn Shire, although there was strong support for Labor at the last election, political party affiliation did not appear to be a strong predictor of the referendum outcome across the polling booths. There was strong support across the Shire for Labor in the 2022 election. The only polling booth to return a 2-party preferred vote for the Liberal party was Newlyn with a slim margin of 50.5%. While the Shire voted yes overall, support was weaker than for Labor at the last election.
Some insights into the divide between the east and west of Hepburn Shire can be gained by examining ABS demographics for Daylesford Statistical Area 2 (SA2) and Creswick SA2 which roughly correspond to the polling stations.
Polling before the referendum indicated a relationship between education and voting preference with higher levels of educational attainment associated with a preference for Yes. There is a clear difference in educational attainment with 29% of the Daylesford SA population having a Bachelor degree or higher compared to Creswick with 17.7%.
Pre-polling also suggested a relationship between income and voting preference with higher incomes associated with a Yes preference. Median weekly incomes in both Daylesford ($1349) and Creswick ($1238) are well below the Victorian average of $1759 but the Yes vote still prevailed.
In addition to the limited demographic data to explain the east-west split in the Shire leadership and community organisation may have played a part. The Daylesford Museum has had a strong focus on reconciliation with the Coranderrk portraits exhibition. Community leaders like Prof Barry Golding through the GDTA’s reconciliation walks have focussed community attention on local Aboriginal history. Hepburn Shire Council has shown strong leadership by its commitment to a Yes vote and through actions of the Reconciliation Action Committee such as the Frontier Wars Avenue of Honour. As well, the local ALP organised signage and election material for the Yes campaign. And perhaps the editorial position of The Wombat Post and opinion pieces published over the past six months have had some small impact.
Despite the overall referendum result and the understandable disappointment and grief of indigenous leaders and yes campaigners many organisations have already indicated their continuing support for the reconciliation process and the Uluru Statement.