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Victorian Coalition MPs to make call on free vote for Voice

Callum Godde (AAP) -

Victorian coalition MPs will discuss whether to bind party room members to a formal position on the Indigenous voice to parliament or allow a free vote.

A free or conscience vote for MPs would clash with the binding stance of the federal Liberals.

Shadow Treasurer Brad Rowswell has confirmed coalition shadow cabinet will meet on Monday to discuss whether to bind Liberal and National MPs to its yet-to-be-determined policy position.

"I don't want to get ahead of a conversation with my colleagues tomorrow ... other than to say for my own part a free vote is something that I support," he told reporters on Sunday.

Despite federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and Nationals Leader David Littleproud formalising their opposition a constitutionally enshrined voice, the Victorian opposition is yet to settle on a 'yes' or 'no' position.

It is expected to adopt a position by the end of May after Liberal leader John Pesutto said earlier in April he was keeping an open mind.

"I don't really want to comment on what the federal Liberals are doing. My responsibility as the Victorian Liberal leader is to make sure that the course we're adopting is inclusive," he said.

Members of Mr Dutton's shadow cabinet are bound to the party's position, prompting the coalition's Indigenous affairs spokesman Julian Leeser to move to the backbench so he could continue to support the voice.

Victorian shadow frontbenchers James Newbury, Jess Wilson and Evan Mulholland have told The Age newspaper they will push for state coalition MPs to be have a choice to vote or campaign 'yes' or 'no'.

A senior Victorian Liberal MP, speaking to AAP anonymously, expressed displeasure at colleagues openly discussing shadow cabinet's agenda through the media.

Mr Rowswell declined to cast judgement on his fellow shadow cabinet members and said his focus lay elsewhere ahead of the state budget on May 23.

"Frankly, this is a matter for the feds," he said.

"In the state of Victoria, we've got big fish to fry."

Upper house Liberal MP Beverley McArthur recently penned an opinion piece for the Spectator Australia likening a constitutionally enshrined voice to apartheid South Africa and suggesting it "divides on colour".

The Victorian Nationals are also yet to formalise their stance but state party leader and shadow Indigenous affairs spokesman Peter Walsh has previously flagged they would oppose the voice unless an exact model is put to the vote of Australians.

"To say there is going to be a referendum and a parliamentary committee will then design what that referendum actually achieves is back to front," Mr Walsh said in November.

Newly elected NSW Liberal leader Mark Speakman last week signalled a possible shift in the state coalition's support for the voice, backing away from the 'yes' position of former premier Dominic Perrottet.

He has reserved his position until he has chosen and spoken with his shadow cabinet.

WA Nationals Leader Shane Love supports a 'yes' vote, as does the country's only Liberal premier, Tasmania's Jeremy Rockliff.

The voice to parliament referendum is expected to held between October and December this year.


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   Callum Godde (AAP)   

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