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Nationals demand by-election if Voice loses, saying "opportunistic" Andrew Gee should resign

October 13, 2023

Andrew Gee (right) with Yes supporters. Facebook.

By Peter Holmes

The National Party is demanding an expensive by-election for the federal seat of Calare, saying independent MP Andrew Gee should step down if the Voice referendum is not successful on Saturday (October 14, 2023).

Although the Yes and No sides have called for respectful debate during the Voice campaign, Nationals senator Ross Cadell launched a vicious attack ahead of the vote.

Cadell described Orange's federal representative as "opportunistic" and a "gutless whinger", and questioned whether Gee's support for the Voice was genuine, describing it as an "attempt to chase publicity and self-promotion".

In response, Gee said: "That’s the nasty National Party machine all over, always trying to control what people say, think and do. They hate it when anyone dares to think for themselves instead of towing their precious party line. People have had a gutful of machine politicians."

The party is still furious with Gee, who quit the National Party in December 2022 over the party's refusal to back the Voice to Parliament, an advisory body that would allow Indigenous Australians to speak directly to government on matters that concerned their lives.

Gee's defection meant that the National Party had no sway in Orange, after MP Phil Donato relieved the party of the state seat in 2016. In a place like Orange, this simply wouldn't do.

It is expected that state MPs Sam Farraway and Paul Toole - both Bathurst-based - would throw their Akubras into the ring to challenge Gee for Calare.

If the polls are correct and the Yes side fails to attract enough votes, the National Party has shown it intends to take full political advantage against Gee.

Cadell didn't wait for the votes to be counted, issuing a statement on Friday (October 13, 2023).

"With late polling predicting a landslide win for the no campaign in the seat of Calare, NSW Nationals Senator Ross Cadell has called on local member, and Nationals defector, Andrew Gee to resign if the people of his electorate vote no," it read.

Cadell, a figure whose footprint in Orange is on the lesser side of negligible, claimed that “Andrew Gee’s resignation as a member of the Nationals due to our position on the Voice was nothing more than an opportunistic attempt to chase publicity and self-promotion".

“During the months long program to establish the Party room’s position, Andrew chose not to

contribute at all during that process, waiting until the 11th hour to call, simply saying he wanted to support yes," he said.

“Mr Gee failed to listen to the people of Calare when it comes to the Voice to Parliament. The

National Party did. If on Saturday the people of Calare vote no to Anthony Albanese’s Voice then Andrew Gee should resign immediately.

“If he wants to claim he left the Nationals because of our position on the Voice, and has any integrity and is not just a gutless whinger, he will resign as Member for Calare if the electorate votes no on Saturday,” Cadell said.

Gee said he had made his "position supporting the Voice public before the last election and I stand by it".

"It was disappointing that they held a party meeting to decide their position on it when I was at a funeral in Eugowra, and then subsequently tried to muzzle me from speaking out," Gee said.

"The fact that the party has lined up an out-of-town senator to send out a nasty press release like this just shows how very worried they are about winning the seat back. It’s a shame they put more effort into writing vicious press releases than they do actually working on issues like providing proper disaster assistance for our region."

The press statement quoted Sky News polling showing 72.2 percent of people in Calare will vote No.

“Earlier this week, I joined volunteers on pre-poll in both Bathurst and Orange," Cadell said. "The response on the ground was clear, the people of Calare do not want this Andrew Gee backed Voice to Parliament."

Gee responded by saying Cadell's pre-emptive statement was "a great example of a major party engaging in petty, personal point scoring when they should be providing vision and leadership. It’s little wonder that more and more people, including branch members, are ditching political parties and the puppeteers who run them."

At a No campaign event in recent weeks at Duntryleague Nationals leader David Littleproud said he would be pretty much living in Orange until the next federal election in an attempt to remove Gee.

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