‘Liberalism is dead’: Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and wife

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy have thrown their support behind Ken Wyatt following his shock decision to quit the Liberal Party on Thursday. 

Mr Wyatt, former minister for Indigenous Australians, handed in his resignation after the Coalition formally agreed to oppose the government’s Voice to Parliament proposal.

“I still believe in the Liberal Party values but I don’t believe in what the Liberals have become,” Mr Wyatt told the West Australian. 

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

Reacting to the news on Thursday, the former Liberal prime minister and his wife took to Twitter to back Mr Wyatt’s decision.

“He is a wise history making leader and now with a referendum to win. We will be voting YES with millions of Australians,” Mr Turnbull tweeted.

Lucy Turnbull AO said Mr Wyatt’s choice to quit would not have been an easy one, writing: “He must be heartbroken. Big hugs”.

As the discussion thread continued, she declared “Liberalism seems to have died” and revealed to her followers that she no longer felt at home within the Liberal Party.

“I am too progressive to feel at home in the Liberal Party. Not many progressives left,” she wrote. 

The former prime minister’s position on the Voice is at odds with his stance back in 2017, when he claimed the proposal was neither “desirable or capable of winning acceptance at referendum”.

At the time, Mr Turnbull believed an Indigenous Voice would not have the backing from the Australian public and warned it would “effectively create a third chamber of government”.

However he has since changed his tune telling the ABC last August that he “reflected” on his position over the years and that “the Voice will be powerful, it will be heard and it will be heeded”.

Mr Wyatt, who was the first Aboriginal person to be elected to the federal House of Representatives, had long urged his Liberal colleagues to back the Voice model before his resignation on Thursday. 

He sits as a member of the Indigenous working group set up to advise the Albanese government on its referendum strategy and stood alongside the Prime Minister as he announced the wording for the proposed change to the constitution.

Last week the former Liberal cabinet minister warned the party could be perceived as “racist” if it chose not to back the Voice to Parliament, as he called on Mr Dutton to at least give MPs a conscience vote.

After a lengthy meeting on Wednesday, the Liberal Party formally agreed to oppose the government’s Voice to Parliament proposal.

Peter Dutton confirmed the party will campaign against Labor’s constitutionally enshrined Voice and instead push for a series of legislated local and regional Voice bodies.

The position has left the Coalition divided, with Liberal MP Bridget Archer revealing earlier on Thursday that she would break party ranks and campaign for the ‘Yes’ vote.

While Frontbench MPs are bound by the party’s ‘No’ position, backbenchers like Ms Archer are free to dissent. 

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