For three distinct but related groups the referendum result should be a serious wake-up call.
For the government the result was and remains horrific. This was a referendum where the government took a strong position which was, apart from in the ACT, comprehensively rejected across Australia.
They had an idea, assumed Australians would accept it and even when it was clear the idea was in trouble failed to sell it.
When you tell everyone an idea is really good, you should be able to argue the case for it. And argue it well. It looked like in the first instance Labor was still high on its election win. Possibly they thought they were rockstars and we were the smitten fans in the mosh pit. Government doesn't work like that.
In bad news for the government a lot of Labor voters were in the group that rejected the referendum. However small there is now a distance in the minds of those voters between them and the government. They have to some extent at least cut the ropes.
Plenty of swinging voters can now see that Labor just didn't understand what the electorate was thinking. That translates into "the government doesn't understand us".
For any government that's dangerous territory. It invites voters to contemplate to whom their government is listening, when it isn't listening to them. The government revealed just how hopelessly out of touch it was on this issue. Being Hopelessly Out Of Touch or a HOOT is not an accolade any minister or government wants.
Labor will understand that they can't let people see how out of touch they are again any time soon. That will add a perhaps unnecessary note of caution on future policies.
People in the caucus who sounded warnings will be emboldened. They'll smirk, at a minimum, the next time some know-it-all "yes" proponent tries to lord it over them on another issue in the party room. In brief, the major "yes" proponents in Labor have lost face, lost standing. Within the party room the power dynamics have changed. More risk for any government.
Some stupid people in the government tried to blame Dutton for the loss. Poor sods. Fancy being so stupid as to give your opponent the credit for having convinced Australians to oppose your plan. And how insulting to Australians to effectively say to them: "you idiots, you were duped by Dutton".
People made up their own mind. That's the very good thing about referendums, they're not tribal.
Across Australia only the ACT voted "yes". That's the home of the Commonwealth public service. One wonders whether anyone in the APS has turned their mind to what that tells the rest of us. It says that the people preparing advice for our government think differently from us. That's a serious problem for them.
Governments implement policy that affects all of us. As each election comes around we collectively decide whether to give that government another term.
It is obviously important when implementing policy governments understand what we the people think. What policies will we accept. There's no point in advocating policy options that are an almost impossible sell in the political marketplace. The "yes" vote in the ACT tells us the APS may not understand that marketplace. That's very bad for them.
It's true that the APS isn't there to advise on public opinion. But they do need to understand the environment into which the policies they recommend would go. You might say that the ACT and within it the APS do understand what Australians think, but on this issue they simply had a different view. That's problematic. Are we to believe that its just one outlying issue on which this group thinks differently from the rest of us? That's unlikely. And what are we to assume they think of the difference of opinion?
Are we the great unwashed? The ignorant, the ill-informed, the selfish? Do they realise how out of touch they are with mainstream Australia?
Large swathes of the media and celebrity commentariat also had their view of the world as it ought to be rebuffed by a majority of Australians. What they think of "no" voters is interesting.
My guess is there's not much space for accepting that a very large proportion of the "no" voters would have said "yes" to a simple constitutional recognition question. They just didn't like the option on offer.
"Yes" voters are more likely to categorise "no" voters as uneducated or racist. Such is the overconfident self-absorption that celebrity or media notoriety bring.
There's nothing wrong with having a different view. It is healthy and we should all thank heavens daily that we live in a country where you can have different views and freely express them.
But when a particular cohort has different views from another it just invites investigation and speculation. If you're a serious media commentator you might want to comment on how the government is in sync or otherwise with mainstream Australia.
But if you don't understand it yourself how can you comment on the governments understanding or lack thereof. How as a journalist can you offer a credible view about a government and whether it understands the electorate if you don't understand it yourself?
So there we stand: the government ,the media and celebrity commentariat and swathes of the public service are a bunch of HOOTS. That is they are Hilariously Out Of Touch.
- Amanda Vanstone is a former Howard government minister and a regular columnist.