Malcolm Turnbull says if state governments weigh in and run a vigorous ‘‘no’’ campaign, the referendum would be all but doomed Photo: Richard BriggsSenior Liberal Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t think a referendum to recognise local government in the Australian constitution will succeed.

And he should know.

”I have a post-graduate qualification in not winning referendums,” the man who led the failed bid for an Australian republic in 1999 told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

The referendum will be held in conjunction with the federal election on September 14 after legislation to set up the constitutional vote passed the Senate on Monday evening.

Seven Coalition senators broke party ranks and voted against the measure.

Mr Turnbull said it was always tough mounting a successful referendum campaign.

Unless the bid had overwhelming support and limited opposition, it was unlikely to sway a public historically wary of referendums in general.

If some state governments weigh in and run a vigorous ”no” campaign, the referendum would be all but doomed, he said.

”I think it will be very difficult.”

The federal government triggered controversy around the referendum when it allocated $10 million to the ”yes” campaign, but just $500,000 to the ”no” camp.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott supports the yes campaign.

However, many within the Coalition were upset the federal government allocated unequal funding to the two sides of the campaign.

Cory Bernardi, Bridget McKenzie, Alan Eggleston, Chris Back, David Bushby, Dean Smith and David Fawcett joined DLP senator John Madigan to vote against the bill before it passed the Senate 46 to eight votes.

Another senior Liberal Christopher Pyne said the government had made a ”total hash” of the referendum from start to finish, especially around funding.

They had also failed to make a public case for why a referendum was needed at all.”It just appears that the government wants another distraction from their own woes,” he told reporters.

Australian Greens leader Christine Milne said state opposition did not augur well for the referendum’s success.

”Clearly they’re going to work against the referendum,” she told reporters.

Senator Milne said without constitutional recognition there was a legal question as to whether the Commonwealth could directly fund local government for such things as road repairs.

”When (communities) realise that if this doesn’t get up it’s a way for state governments to insist they get the money and siphon some of it off, people will realise that’s why they need to sort this out once and for all,” she said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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