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Price, Mundine reaffirm their opposition to "divisive" voice

Dechlan Brennan -

No campaigners Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Nyunggai Warren Mundine have warned No voters against complacency in the upcoming Voice to Parliament referendum, along with reaffirming their stance against what they label "division".

Senator Price and Mr Mundine, who have both been front and centre during the referendum campaign, gave speeches that come less than two weeks until a referendum with polls showing the No vote is increasingly likely to succeed.

Senator Nampijinpa Price, a Warlpiri/Celtic woman and opposition spokesperson for Indigenous Australians, thanked the large crowd at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on Monday night, saying she was grateful to be back in Western Australia.

"I am filled with so much hope, my heart is filled with so much love for this country, love for the Australian people, love for the fact that we are reigniting our Australian spirit," she said.

"This vote is 'no' to division but 'yes' to bringing back our beautiful Australian values."

Price, who has garnered controversy during the referendum campaign by claiming there were no "ongoing negative impacts of colonisation," said she became a Senator, and formerly an Alice Springs town councillor, without needing constitutional recognition.

"We sure as hell didn't need a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament to achieve those things," she said.

"We've got to fix the structures that already exist instead of muddying the waters and adding more bureaucracy and shoving it into our constitution."

Mr Mundine, a Bundjalung man, told the crowd to avoid being complacent so close to the referendum.

"The battle is not over yet, we've still got to get out there and fight every day," he said.

"Do we want a country that's divided by race? Or do we want a country that's all coming together … to be the better self, an Australia that welcomes people from all over the world?"

His statement was backed up by Matthew Sheahan, from the conservative lobby group Advance Australia, who stated: "Make no mistake, this is going to be close."

The ABC reported protests outside the convention centre included Noongar Minang man and founding Managing Director at Kaya Wandjoo, Mervyn Eades, who said Senator Price was not welcome on Noongar land.

On Tuesday, Senator Price once again argued against the referendum during a press conference with opposition leader Peter Dutton and Shadow Attorney-General Michaelia Cash, labelling it divisive and not focussing on the concerns of people she had talked to.

"The problem with this divisive referendum is the fact that it seeks to create different levels of citizenship. I can't stand for that," Ms Price said.

"That's the sense that I'm getting as I travel across Australia…Those Australians who are proud to call themselves Australians, who don't want to see themselves divided along the lines of race.

"I keep saying to Australians around the country, it doesn't matter whether we were here 60,000 years ago or six months ago: you are Australian, it doesn't matter your racial heritage.

"So, we can't wait to get past this referendum so we can focus on the issues that are really of concern to Australians, which is the cost of living going forward to improve the lives of everybody…"

In August, Senator Price said she wanted an audit carried out on the spending on Indigenous organisations if the Voice to Parliament fails and the Liberals win the next federal election.

On Tuesday, Mr Dutton said he "absolutely, strongly" supported Senator Price's proposal, but wouldn't be drawn into how it would differ from previous audits or outline any details of Senator Price's idea.

The current government, along with previous governments of both persuasions, have acknowledged progress has been too slow on closing the gap, especially in areas related to the disadvantages faced by Indigenous people in health, education, and life expectancy.

"To be fair, there are a number of indicators where things have improved, but there's a long way to go – and other areas where things have gone backwards, despite the fact that record amounts of money have been budgeted for," Mr Dutton said.

"I absolutely strongly support Jacinta's call to make sure that money that's being paid in their taxes…is being spent appropriately."

Debate around spending on Indigenous communities has been seized upon by coalition MP's, as have claims of corruption around the misuse of money by the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency.

Mr Dutton said if the Liberals were elected and Senator Price was the Minister for Indigenous affairs, there would be improvements for Indigenous Australians, arguing that the Labor government "haven't been able to deliver" for First Nations people.

"She's (Senator Price) not interested in, you know, capital city talks, and you know, academics sort of pontificating over how money can be spent – she wants to help people in Indigenous communities," Mr Dutton said.

He declined to say how Senator Price would improve things compared to the previous Coalition Indigenous Affairs minister Ken Wyatt, only noting that Ms Nampijinpa Price "has a practical understanding of what's going on in communities" and that contrasted with the policies of current Minister for Indigenous affairs, Linda Burney.


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