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Prime Minister promises national vote on Indigenous Voice to be held within 12 months

Jarred Cross -

A referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament will take place within 12 months, Anthony Albanese has announced to the crowd at Queensland's Woodford Folk Festival on Wednesday.

The prime minister said the national vote will take place before attendees return to Woodford this time next year.

"An even greater Australia is so tantalisingly within our reach," Mr Albanese said.

"Together, I know that we can reach it."

Mr Albanese's speech was his third at the festival, and first as prime minister on its return from a two-year hiatus through the COVID19 pandemic.

After receiving a frosty reception from protesters, the prime minister flagged the government's intentions to strengthen the arts and music industries and pointing to implementations around housing, jobs, the environment, education, international trade, family safety, the royal commission into RoboDebt and national anti-corruption commission push made since their election in May,

He also paid homage to former Labor PM the late Bob Hawke, a long-time fan of the festival.

"Consider how much the mood has changed in just seven months of a Labor government," Mr Alabenese said.

"As we move out of the upheaval of an election year, we will aim to keep delivering on the commitments that we made to the Australian people."

Mr Albanese acknowledged the risk which comes with a national voice before clarifying it is a necessary step toward constitutional change and encouraged the public to consider their position.

"A successful referendum will give respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but it will also enhance both the way that Australians see ourselves and the way we are seen by the world. Momentum is growing," he said.

"Local government community groups, churches, business, trade unions, sporting codes have all joined every single state and territory government and pledging support for a constitutionally enshrined voice to our national parliament.

"This can indeed be an inclusive moment of national unity and reconciliation.

"I respect everyone's right to make their own decision on the referendum but I encourage Australians to consider the generous and gracious request from First Nations people themselves."

The news of a fastracked date comes after pressure from the opposition on the Government to provide a clearer definition of their proposal.

Last week, Andrew Gee quit the Nationals citing the party's announced stance not to support an enshrined Voice as a motivating factor.

The Member for Calare, in central NSW, expressed his disagreement with the move shortly after Nationals' leader David Littleproud's announcement on November 28.

Speaking to ABC last week, Mr Gee said he was surprised by the decision and lost confidence with the party under pressure to adopt the collective view.

"What was purported to be a united front opposing the voice was put forward, which was not my position, and certainly the party had been put on notice that it wasn't my position," he said,

"I just don't know why that had to happen in the way that it did so quickly.

"The fundamental issue here is that the rest of Australia will get a free vote on the Voice at a referendum yet for National Party MPs, a party position has been taken where there's an expectation that we will fall into line behind that and vote accordingly in the parliament on a position which I do not believe in."

Mr Gee will now stand as an Independent after severing ties with the party.

In the other half of the Coalition, Liberal backbenchers Bridget Archer and James Stevens reportedly signalled their desire for their colleagues to be given the opportunity to take an individual stance on the Voice.

Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton is expected to announce the Liberal party's stance early in the new year.

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