Jacinta Price has hit back at two revered Aboriginal leaders who criticised her vicious attacks on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament with a single photo.
The outspoken senator claimed the advisory body would divide Australia by race and calls to support the ‘failed model’ amounted to ’emotional blackmail’.
Senator Price also described Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney as visiting remote Aboriginal communities ‘dripping with Gucci’.
Her comments at a press conference as the National Party declared it would oppose the Voice drew ire of Aboriginal land rights campaigner Noel Pearson and Labor senator Pat Dodson.
Senator Jacinta Price has hit back at two revered Aboriginal leaders who criticised her vicious attacks on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament
Senator Price returned fire with a photo of herself and Noel Pearson posing together at an event for the Centre for Independent Studies – one of the organisations he claimed was pulling her strings
Mr Pearson claimed Senator Price was caught in a ‘redneck celebrity vortex’ and was being used by shadowy right-wing forces to ‘punch down on other black fellas’.
Senator Dodson, known as Australia’s ‘Father of Reconciliation’, said Senator Price snubbed him after he asked to speak with her about the Voice.
Senator Price returned fire with a photo of herself and Mr Pearson posing together at an event for the Centre for Independent Studies – one of the organisations he claimed was pulling her strings.
‘Pictured at a ‘right wing’ think tank event. Noel – Given your longer-standing relationship with the CIS, their support for your work and your contributions through CIS papers and events, are you suggesting you’re caught in a celebrity redneck vortex unable to think for yourself?’ she wrote on Twitter.
She followed up with an equally fiery statement, saying it ‘doesn’t take long for nasty to rear its ugly head’.
Portraying herself as a victim of ‘bullies’ like Mr Pearson and Senator Dodson because she had a different view, she claimed her office was inundated with abuse since her speech.
‘I am no stranger to attacks from angry men who claim to speak on behalf of Aboriginal Australia,’ she said.
‘In the past I have been told by a supposed Wurundjeri elder that I deserve to die a slow and painful death following my National Press Club address on ending the violence in remote communities.
‘Also following this address, I was called an ‘oxygen thief’ by a man who is often referred to as an Aboriginal leader in Alice Springs.’
Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson launched a scathing attack on Senator Price and the National Party for opposing the Indigenous Voice to Parliament
Senator Price said on other occasions she was publicly attacked by Warlpiri elders after she criticised their handling of violence and abuse suffered by Aboriginal women and children.
‘If they’re not personally attacking me, belittling me by calling me a silly little girl (despite being the mother of four sons) and attempting to intimidate me, then they’re claiming I have snubbed them as my colleague Pat Dodson the ‘Father of Reconciliation’ has suggested,’ she continued.
‘I hardly think agreeing to catch up while passing each other briefly between divisions on the floor of the Senate is the same as formally arranging a time and place for a meeting.’
Senator Price said the phones in her offices in Parliament House and Alice Springs were ringing off the hook with support for the Nationals’ opposition to the Voice.
‘But [we were] also bombarded with threatening and abusive calls that the women in my office should not have to be subjected to,’ she claimed.
Senator Price then turned her distain to the media for allowing Mr Pearson and Senator Dodson to speak to speak against her at all.
‘Research has shown that bullies only ever project onto others their own insecurities and failures, or in defense of a truth,’ she said.
‘So, it perplexes me that for some disturbing reason some ABC presenters foam at the mouth at the opportunity to pit Aboriginal people against each other and bullying is encouraged rather than called out.’
Senator Price said her encounters with ‘bullies’ over the years was one of the reasons she so strongly opposed the Voice, as it would ’empower’ them.
Senator Pat Dodson rebuked Jacinta Price’s brutal attack on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament as ‘premature and inept’
She accused campaigners for the Voice of preaching unity while relentlessly attacking people like her who stood against it.
‘We didn’t need a crystal ball to know that if you do not agree with the voice to parliament, you will be called names, be accused of racism, bigotry and it will also be suggested that you are incapable of thinking for yourself,’ she claimed.
‘The ugly side of the Voice to Parliament is now on display for the country to witness. Beware the accusations and emotional blackmail, the weapons of choice for those attempting to enforce conformity.’
Senator Price then invoked a Gandhi quote to insist she would succeed in derailing the Voice: ‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.’
‘I don’t care for the absolute noise of bullies,’ she concluded.
‘I am here to contribute to practical and meaningful measures within my capacity as the Senator for the Northern Territory and I will continue to be the voice for the voiceless who expect nothing less of me.’
Jacinta Price, a longtime opponent of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, came out with some of her most vicious criticism on Monday as Nationals declared they would oppose it.
What would be added to the constitution?
1. There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
2. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to Parliament and the executive government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
3. The Parliament shall, subject to this constitution, have power to make laws with respect to the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
Mr Pearson sparked her lengthy ‘bullies’ rant when he compared her celebrity to that of One Nation leader Pauline Hanson during her rise to fame as an anti-Asian immigration senator in the 1990s.
He also claimed Senator Price, who is a member of the Country Liberal Party but caucuses with the Nationals, had taken over the ‘squalid little political party’ and its ‘kindergarten child’ leader David Littleproud should just resign.
‘She’s caught in a vortex that reminds me of Pauline Hanson 26 years ago,’ he told ABC radio.
‘It’s a celebrity vortex, it’s very compelling, it gets her out in front of people and it gets a lot of cheers but it’s also a redneck celebrity vortex.’
Mr Pearson claimed right-wing think-tanks like the Institute of Public Affairs and the Centre for Independent Studies were pulling the strings.
He claimed these institutions spent years plotting Senator Price’s rise so their views could be given credibility by an indigenous politician.
‘They’re the string pullers, they’re the ones who have lined up behind Jacinta,’ he said.
‘This has been a campaign in the making of the past three years and their strategy was to find a black fella to punch down on other black fellas, and it’s very difficult to combat.
‘The bullets are fashioned by the CIS and the IPA but… it’s a black hand pulling the trigger. This is been in the making for years now even before Jacinta entered parliament.’
Mr Pearson said the end result would be continued suffering for indigenous people if Australians listened to her and rejected the Voice.
‘I sincerely believe this is a tragic situation a tragic celebrity vortex that will make something of a political career for Jacinta but will produce no solutions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians,’ he said.
‘I discern in Jacinta’s rhetoric [as] no solutions for people back at Aurukun, for people at Yuendumu, for my people.’
Mr Pearson said it was clear Senator Price was the real leader of the Nationals because the party’s opposition to the Voice was a ‘a complete turnaround’ from its previous position.
‘It’s completely inconsistent with the history of the National party members’ respectful engagement with the idea of a voice,’ he said.
He said numerous Nationals MP told him they supported the Voice because they had Aboriginal constituents in favour of it.
‘They see Aboriginal people every day, Aboriginal people enter their doors of the offices,’ he said.
But Mr Pearson believed opposing the Voice just pushed the Nationals further into irrelevance and ‘decent conservatives’ like independent MP Bob Katter, who claims indigenous heritage, and many Liberal Party members would support it.
‘Uncle Bob says this Labor has one chance to get this Voice to Parliament right,’ he said.
‘Bob Katter is a conservative [but he] is a person who has real empathy and he takes Aboriginal people seriously. He shares the pain that his Aboriginal brothers and sisters are enduring.
‘Now, unfortunately, there are two camps and I believe that the Katter, the decent conservatives, will go with us when it goes to a referendum.
‘After all, it’s just a squalid little political party, the Nationals, that is currently controlled by a kindergarten child. It is only the National party that have made this decision.’
But Mr Pearson believed ‘decent conservatives’ like independent MP Bob Katter (pictured), who claims indigenous heritage, would support it
Mr Pearson reminded Australians that it was Liberal former prime minister John Howard who got the ball rolling on constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians in 2007.
Mr Howard opposes the Voice, but Mr Pearson said even if that wasn’t what he envisaged when he started the process 25 years ago, it was what it ended with.
‘But who can arrogate to themselves that kind of presumption that their own views should be the view that prevails?’ he said of Mr Howard.
‘We’ve gone through 15 years of process, 15 years of political history, since Howard kicked off the ball on constitutional recognition, and we’ve landed with a voice.
‘The simple proposition that Aboriginal people should be able to tell the parliament their views on any laws that affect them. That is the simple and modest proposition.
‘We landed on that under the aegis of a Liberal-National Coalition government. And we should go forward on that basis.’
The IPA said in response to Mr Pearson’s comments said it was not racist to disagree with a proposal and it believed all Australians should be equal, and their legal status should never be determined by skin colour or ethnic heritage.
‘There is broad agreement on both sides of the debate about how we can improve the lives of Indigenous Australians, including through localism, real property rights, and regional economic development,’ it said.
‘We must unify around practical approaches to improve the lives of all Australians, rather than being divided by race.
‘Establishing an indigenous-only body in our constitution would permanently divide Australians by race, and on that basis alone the proposed referendum must be shelved.’
Ms Burney and Labor senator Pat Dodson, both indigenous MPs and strong proponents of the Voice, during a Labor Party Caucus at Parliament House
Senator Dodson said he was ‘taken aback’ by the National Party’s sudden announcement that it would not support the Voice.
‘I was a bit taken back because last week I spoke to Senator Price and said I would like to talk to her. That hasn’t happened,’ he told the ABC.
‘We haven’t even put forward the bill that will set up the referendum so it is a bit premature really and a bit inept to think that you would adopt a position well out before you saw anything of what the people, First Nations people, were asking for the government.’
Senator Dobson, who has spent decades trying to bring black and white Australia closer together, is the Albanese Government’s special envoy for reconciliation.
He said he outlined some of the early details of how the Voice could work in the Senate last week and couldn’t understand how anyone would have a problem with them.
‘It is inclusive, respectful, culturally informed, gender balanced, and includes youth. It also is accountable and transparent and works along existing organisations and traditional structure,’ he said.
‘Maybe Senator Price was not there, None of those would be objectionable to you or anyone listening to that list.’
The Nationals declaring so early that they would not support the Voice was seen by some as a huge blow as it was hoped the major parties could work together on the referendum, but Senator Dodson wasn’t concerned.
‘I don’t see it as a setback quite frankly. This is the beginning. The campaign hasn’t even begun,’ he said.
‘It is not about the politicians, remember. It is about an invitation from First Nations to the nation. This is about the Australian people and they will need to vote on it.’
Senator Dodson is known as the ‘Father of Reconciliation’ for his decades of work as an Aboriginal rights campaigner and chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
He was appointed to the Senate in May 2016 to replace a retiring MP and was elected in his own right at the federal election later that year.
National Party declares it will not support Indigenous Voice to Parliament
Mr Littleproud declared the regional party’s position standing alongside Senator Price at Parliament House on Monday.
He said his party spoke with indigenous leaders and claimed the Voice would not help close the gap between First Nations and white Australians.
‘We believe empowering local indigenous communities, giving them the power at a local level, not creating another layer of bureaucracy here in Canberra,’ he said.
‘This is not a voice for regional, rural and remote Australians. This is one for those who live in Redfern, they’ll be OK.
David Littleproud declared the National Party would not support the Indigenous Voice to Parliament standing alongside Aboriginal senator Jacinta Price at Parliament House
‘But just think about those Indigenous Australians that live in Central Australia. They’re not going to have a voice out of this, they’ll have another layer of bureaucracy that won’t shift the dial of the legacy we get to leave.’
Mr Littleproud said he instead wanted to give rural indigenous communities the opportunities those in the cities enjoyed every day.
Country Liberal senator Price slammed Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney for visiting remote communities ‘dripping with Gucci’ and telling them ‘what they need’.
‘She might be able to take a private jet out into a remote community, dripping with Gucci, and tell people in the dirt what’s good for them – but they are in the dark, and they have been in the dark,’ she said.
‘We have to stop dividing this nation on the lines of race. We will not be supporting a failed model.
‘It’s not racist to disagree with a proposal… that lacks detail and divides us on the lines of race.
‘Yes, there is goodwill, there is immense goodwill from Indigenous Australians in this country… what we need now is practical measures, not an idea that lacks complete and utter detail and based on emotional blackmail.’
The Nationals will not, as a party, actively oppose the Voice and instead leave it up to individual MPs to represent their constituents.
‘Jacinta [Price] will take a national position and profile in articulating a case. I will be making sure that my community, as I’ve rung many and tragically, some of them don’t even know what the Voice is,’ Mr Littleproud said.
‘We are this far down the path and traditional owners in Western Queensland some of them have no idea – it means nothing to them, it won’t help them.’
Senator Price said she hoped Australians would vote against a referendum to establish the Voice if one was called.
‘This Voice model is about empowering the elites to demand a transfer of power, and nothing more than that,’ she said.
‘This Voice model is not recognition, let’s not get the two confused here, this is an entire bureaucratic country we don’t have details on.’
Senator Price slammed Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney (pictured) for visiting remote communities ‘dripping in Gucci’ and telling them ‘what they need’
Senator Price said she and other Nationals MPs spoke to indigenous communities about the Voice and claimed they ‘didn’t want more division’ in Australia.
‘We are part of a liberal democratic Australia. And one of our fundamental principles is that we are all regarded as equal under the law. Despite race, despite gender despite anything else,’ she said.
‘Why should I as an indigenous Australian be governed under a separate entity than the rest of Australia because of my race?’
The Indigenous Voice as it is proposed is a strictly advisory body giving insight and advocacy to all levels of government, and does not do any ‘governing’.
Senator Price said she spoke to indigenous Australians in her electorate of the Northern Territory, many of whom did not speak English as their first language, and found many were unaware of the Voice.
‘[They] are living their day to day worrying about how they’re not going to encounter violence in their lives,’ she said.
‘Worrying about how they’re going to manage their affairs without humbug from their relatives who are dealing with alcohol and substance abuse, worrying about ensuring that their kids are actually going to get to school because now their remote communities are overcome with alcohol fueled violence.
‘These are the issues that people are concerned with now they’re not sitting around waiting for a proposal to come up with details as to how it’s going to improve their lives.
‘We are here to serve Australian citizens of all backgrounds and it is not right to divide us along the lines of race especially within our Australian founding document.’
Senator Price is a longstanding opponent of the Indigenous Voice and frequently speaks out against it, including in her maiden speech to parliament,
She frequently describes it as being a bureaucracy that would divide Australians by race, and believes it would do nothing to solve practical problems like alcoholism and sexual abuse in indigenous communities.
Greens senator Lidia Thorpe, who vehemently disagrees with Senator Price on almost all other issues, also opposes the Voice.
Her opposition is rooted in her constant agitation for a treaty between indigenous people and the Australian Government to be negotiated first.
She is also concerned the Voice would end up being a ‘waste of money’ that would not have a practical benefit on indigenous lives.
Greens senator Lidia Thorpe, who vehemently disagrees with Senator Price on almost all other issues, also opposes the Voice
The former NBA star was supposed to show support for the Voice – but instead mumbled a few words about God and loving Australia.
Senators Thorpe and Price were united in panning the event as a divisive stunt.
Mr Littleproud said the Liberal Party would make its own decision about whether to support the Voice, and the issue would be discussed at Tuesday party room meeting.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has not expressed a firm view either way, but has spoken critically of the Voice on several occasions.
He in September declared the Coalition would not decide whether to support it until key questions were answered.
Mr Dutton told a joint party room meeting that the opposition wanted to be ‘generous’ in considering the issue, but was frustrated by lack of detail.
‘Labor seems to be making it up as they’re going along, they can’t answer even the most basic questions,’ he told MPs.
‘They say that the Voice will only apply to policies that apply to indigenous Australians but surely foreign policy and defence policy affects indigenous Australians.
‘We still don’t know what the body is going to look like – how it will be made up, and which communities will be represented and how they will be chosen.’
Senators Price and Thorpe found common ground in slamming Anthony Albanese for his meeting with NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal about the Voice in August
Days later he issued a call to arms to the industry to attack the Voice at a Minerals Council of Australia lunch in Parliament House.
‘We have no idea what it means for the mining sector,’ he said in a fiery speech to an appreciative crowd.
‘We don’t know whether a Voice that doesn’t represent the elders that you negotiate with or that your agreement is with in a particular location, now, they might be usurped and [the Voice will] exercise a veto, right?
‘That would damage your employees, that would damage your business.’
Mr Dutton said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was asking the industry to support the advisory body ‘sight unseen’ without knowing the ramifications.
‘We’re all in favour of reconciliation and we’re all in favour of sensible reforms and we’ll stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the government to do that,’ he said.
‘But this preparedness to sign up to please others I think is a disease within corporate Australia at the moment.’
Controversial new Aboriginal senator Jacinta Price (pictured) has railed against what she sees as ‘handouts’ and ‘symbolic recognition’ for Indigenous Australians
A poll by the Australia Institute in July found not just strong support for the Voice, but for it to be added to the constitution.
The poll found 65 per cent would vote yes, up from 58 per cent when the same poll was run in June.
Some 14 per cent said they would vote no with the other 21 per cent undecided.
Support was highest among Greens voters, but even 58 per cent of those Coalition aligned would vote yes.
However, there is still a long way to go until a referendum, expected to be held in the 2023-24 financial year, is actually held.
Mr Albanese was hoping both Labor and the Coalition would unite behind the proposal, but will now have to forge ahead without the Nationals.
The details of how the Voice will work and what practical influence it will have are nowhere near finalised but the PM said they would be before the referendum.