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Voice missing piece to closing gap: Indigenous envoy

Australia's Indigenous envoy for reconciliation says a voice to parliament is the missing piece of the puzzle to help close the gap.

Reflecting on the anniversary of the stolen generation, Pat Dodson said "the shackles of the past will fall from us" on the night a successful referendum is declared.

"What has been missing is the voice. It's the missing piece," he told the Senate on Wednesday.

"What a moment of liberation this will be for all of us.

"We will stand with plain hearts and clean consciences and we all know our country is on the path to a better future."

He said that moment for the voice was building.

"Do not underestimate the power of a single conversation," he said during his call to action.

But coalition senator Jacinta Price said the voice would only widen the gap and enshrine racial inequity in the constitution.

"They want to give one group, based on nothing but the differences, special privileges to stall, to halt, to hinder the work of governments if they don't like what they're trying to do," she said.

The Indigenous senator from the Northern Territory said her time as a researcher led to the revelation the disadvantage gap was between rural and metropolitan communities, not between races.

"The voice seeks to constitutionally enshrine the gap because a voice suggests we will always be disadvantaged as a matter of our racial heritage," she said.

The government is continuing negotiations with the opposition to pass the machinery legislation needed to hold the referendum.

Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley denied the coalition's stance in rejecting some of the mechanics behind the referendum was indicative of the party's stance on the Indigenous voice to parliament.

"You don't get a blank cheque on the constitution," she told ABC Radio.

"Constitutional reform is really a big deal and you have to get it right."

Ms Ley said a proposal to legislate the voice in parliament and then take it to a referendum was a sensible idea.

Indigenous senator Lidia Thorpe called on the government to implement recommendations of previous reports into Aboriginal deaths in custody and First Nations children in out-of-home care instead of focusing on the voice.

"When are you going to implement the recommendations from the Bringing them Home report, which provides you with all ... the solutions from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices that you so care about?" she said.

Senator Dodson called for bipartisan support for the referendum to succeed but acknowledged support wasn't unanimous among Indigenous people.

"I want to say to such senior persons that they are entitled to their view and that they are appreciated and respected for the contributions they have made to the country," he said.

He said he found strong support for the voice during his travel to regional Indigenous communities.

"Because regional and remote communities know what it is like to be ignored by governments," he said.