‘Momentum is growing’: PM flags referendum to be held within year

Anthony Albanese, pictured with partner Jodie Haydon, will attend the Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland.

Anthony Albanese, pictured with partner Jodie Haydon, will attend the Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland. Photo: AAP

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has firmed up the timetable for the upcoming referendum on an Indigenous voice to parliament, saying by this time next year it would have been held.

Mr Albanese will make the announcement at the Woodford Folk Festival, a six-day celebration of music and culture being held for the first time in almost three years, north of Brisbane on Wednesday.

“When Woodford takes place next year, the referendum on the Voice to Parliament will have been held,” he will say.

“This is an opportunity for all of us to be a part of enriching our nation and being even stronger in the future.”

Mr Albanese reiterated a voice would achieve two things.

“It will recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our Constitution and it will enshrine a Voice to Parliament to ensure consultation on matters that directly affect Indigenous Australians, such as education, health, housing, and justice issues.”

Mr Albanese will encourage Australians to support the referendum, saying it’s a chance to be part of national unity and reconciliation.

In his Bob Hawke memorial lecture, the Labor leader will also reflect on the past seven months in power and reveal what Australians can expect from his government in 2023.

The late Mr Hawke, a former Labor prime minister, was one of the festival’s greatest fans.

Mr Albanese will discuss Mr Hawke’s time in government while highlighting his own government’s first seven months and seven days in power.

“Bob Hawke left a great legacy and that’s because he understood that for any legacy to have staying power requires a government that lasts the distance,” he will say.

“No one’s time in government is infinite. The clock is always ticking.

“But I firmly believe that a good way to make the best possible use of that time is to carry Bob’s example in your heart.”

Anthony Albanese will carry the example of former prime minister Bob Hawke. Photo: AAP

The prime minister will talk about his government’s election commitment to hit the ground running.

He will cite his party’s achievements in establishing a stronger climate target, paid domestic violence leave, a national anti-corruption commission and improved gender equality.

Mr Albanese will also reference the steps taken to restore Australia’s international relationships, particularly with the Pacific region and China.

But he will use his speech to lament the previous nine years of the coalition government and commit to supporting the arts sector.

Mr Albanese will say the former government did not understand that rather than being a luxury, the arts were “central to our very being”.

“Whether it’s our stories being told or our music being played or our world being interpreted through paint, dance, textile, stone or clay, we cannot separate ourselves from the art,” he will say.

“The arts are central to our culture and it is through the arts that we build our identity as a nation and a people.”

Looking to 2023, Mr Albanese will pledge to continue building on the momentum his government established in 2022.

“My determination has always been that we will be a government for all Australians,” he will say.

“We will listen. We will consult. We will keep our doors open, along with our ears and our minds.”

Queensland Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch has welcomed the return of the annual festival, which stages live music, performances and art from December 27 to January 1.

“Woodford Folk Festival brings communities together and delivers arts, First Nations culture, music, dance, circus, ceremony and important conversations in one of Queensland’s most beautiful settings,” Ms Enoch said.


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