Nationals MP Andrew Gee quits party over Voice to Parliament stance

Long-serving Nationals MP Andrew Gee has spectacularly quit the party, announcing he will sit as an Independent in federal parliament.

In a statement on Friday, Mr Gee cited the party’s opposition to the Indigenous Voice to Parliament as the reason for his exit.

Mr Gee has held the NSW seat of Calare since 2016.

He was also elected to the NSW Legislative Assembly for Orange in 2011 and served as the Defence Personnel Minister from 2021 to 2022.

Mr Gee said he felt the Nationals’ decision to oppose the Voice to Parliament and witnessing the devastating NSW floods “really brought home to me the importance of being able to stand up and be counted”.

“I can’t reconcile the fact that every Australian will get a free vote on the vitally important issue of the Voice, yet National Party MPs are expected to fall into line behind a party position that I fundamentally disagree with, and vote accordingly in Parliament,” he said in his statement.

“While I respect the views of my colleagues, this just isn’t right.”

A month ago, Nationals leader David Littleproud said the party would be opposing the Voice policy as it would not deal with the real issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“It will not economically empower Indigenous people,” Mr Littleproud said.

“We believe this will be a voice for Redfern, not for Indigenous communities in regional, rural and remote Australia, in places like Cunnamulla, Alice Springs and Carnarvon.”

Mr Gee, who grew up handing out how to vote flyers for the party, said he was “once a true believer but not anymore”.

In a scathing rebuke of the party he once served, he said they were “very different to the one of my youth” and felt he didn’t have the freedom to speak on the issue of the Voice.

“While I respect the views of my colleagues, this just isn’t right,” Mr Gee said.

“As the discussion on this issue around Australia builds, I want that freedom to put forward my point of view as I don’t foresee the Nationals’ policy on the Voice changing.

“While I accept that in politics compromises have to be made, there comes a point where not speaking out freely can compromise the interests of those we represent.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it was an “extraordinary political development” but that he respected Mr Gee’s position.

“Andrew Gee’s statement is one of principle,” he said.

“I look forward to working with him and members of the Liberal Party, crossbenchers across the board who want to recognise – who see this as an opportunity to unite our nation.”

He said he was pleased Mr Gee would be pushing for a “yes” vote on the change.

“Andrew Gee has made a principal statement about his commitment to constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but also a constitutionally recognised Voice to Parliament,” he said.

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