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Liberals deny party is split over Voice to Parliament

Divisions have emerged after the Liberal Party announced it would formally oppose a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.

A dissenting Liberal MP says the party is at a crossroads, while former minister Ken Wyatt has quit in protest over its decision to oppose the Indigenous voice to parliament.

Mr Wyatt, who was the country's first Aboriginal person to hold the Indigenous Australians portfolio, resigned from the party on Thursday.

"I still believe in the Liberal Party values but I don't believe in what the Liberals have become," he told The West Australian.

"Aboriginal people are reaching out to be heard but the Liberals have rejected their invitation."

It follows the Liberal Party's decision on Wednesday to support constitutional recognition for Indigenous people but reject the government's proposal to enshrine a national voice to parliament.

The Liberals are instead calling for legislated regional and local voices to be established.

Deputy Liberal Leader Sussan Ley said she was saddened by her former colleague's decision but wouldn't criticise Mr Wyatt for the course he took.

"Ken is a great friend, former colleague, you won't hear me say a bad word about him," she told Seven's Sunrise on Friday.

"I respect the decision that every Australian will come to in the referendum. We are asking questions, it's not good enough for the prime minister to issue demands that people follow his lead."

Cabinet minister Jason Clare has hit back at the Liberals for accusing the government of not putting out enough detail about the voice.

"It's really disappointing that the Liberal Party have decided to walk away from this, they have lost a good man in Ken Wyatt," he told the same program.

Mr Clare said while the prospect of the referendum passing had become harder, he still had faith Australians would vote 'yes'.

"The Australian people are bigger and better than the mean and negative Liberal Party," he said.

"I have faith they will meet this moment later this year."

Opposing the voice has put Liberal moderates at odds with the party's position, Tasmanian MP Bridget Archer saying she was not the only member who felt their party was at a crucial juncture.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton labelled the government's proposal divisive and insisted his party was not split over its position on the voice, saying 99 per cent of his MPs supported the partyroom position.

Ms Archer said there was a decision to be made between walking away from the party or using her position to fight for change internally.

She pledged to campaign in support of the voice despite her party's position.

Indigenous leader Noel Pearson was scathing of Mr Dutton, labelling the decision to oppose the voice a "Judas betrayal of our country".

Tasmanian premier Jeremy Rockliff, the only remaining Liberal state government leader after the New South Wales election, said he will campaign "vigorously" for a constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.


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