The Liberal party will meet on Wednesday to finalise their position on this year’s upcoming voice to parliament referendum.
Speaking at the National Press Club, shadow attorney-general and shadow minister for Indigenous Australians Julian Leeser said that the party will be meeting but Australians shouldn’t expect a concrete stance at the meetings conclusion.
“We’re going to have some discussions this week and I don’t want to pre-empt where those discussions will go, but we will be having discussions as a party room on those matters.
I don’t think people should assume that we will have a completely concluded position on things on Wednesday” the shadow minister said.
Liberal senator Andrew Bragg said that he will be pushing for the party to opt in for a free vote meaning that the position ministers take up for the referendum will be up to them.
Bragg said that it speaks to a long tradition of the Liberal party opting for free votes when it comes to public votes.
Former PM John Howard voted no on the 1999 republic referendum, disagreeing with then treasurer Peter Costello who supported the yes vote.
A more recent example can be seen in the 2017 plebiscite on same-sex marriage which saw then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull voting yes, despite disagreements within his cabinet.
Notably last November the National Party announced that they would not be supporting the yes vote with leader David Littleproud arguing that the proposed constitutionally enshrined advisory group would not “genuinely” close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Australians have only carried eight out of 44 proposed constitutional changes with bipartisan support being a common factor amongst successful referendums.