THE leader of the federal Nationals has described the resignation of Bathurst's federal MP Andrew Gee from the party as unfortunate, but says the decision has been accepted.
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David Littleproud, though, has disputed one of the central reasons cited by Mr Gee for his decision to leave the Nationals: an inability to have his say on the proposed Indigenous Voice to parliament.
"I can't reconcile the fact that every Australian will get a free vote on the vitally important issue of the Voice, yet National Party MPs are expected to fall into line behind a party position that I fundamentally disagree with, and vote accordingly in Parliament," Mr Gee said in his Nationals resignation statement on Friday morning.
"While I respect the views of my colleagues, this just isn't right."
"As the discussion on this issue around Australia builds, I want that freedom to put forward my point of view as I don't foresee the Nationals' policy on the Voice changing," Mr Gee said.
In a statement released early Friday afternoon, Mr Littleproud - who took over the federal Nationals leadership after the Coalition lost government in May - said Mr Gee "had always been free to make his own decision and vote accordingly about The Voice to Parliament".
"While the Federal Nationals remain united in our decision to oppose The Voice to Parliament, I have stated from the beginning that one of the great things about our Party Room is the ability to have different opinions and speak and vote freely on issues that matter to individual members and nothing has changed," Mr Littleproud said in the statement.
"We will continue to work hard for western New South Wales and find a candidate who will best represent them at the next Federal Election."
Mr Littleproud said he was disappointed that Mr Gee had resigned from the NSW National Party.
He said Mr Gee's departure was unfortunate but had been accepted.
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