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Jacinta Nampijinpa Price tells Press Club the Voice is "built on lies" amid furore in Canberra

Jarred Cross -

Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians and no campaign lead Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has told the National Press Club the Voice to Parliament is “flawed”, “built on lies” and an “aggressive attempt” towards division negating the need to find practical solutions impacting marginalised Australians. 

In her second address to the Press Club, and first since 2017, Ms Price outlined the reasons behind her case for voting no in October 14’s referendum. 

She said there are four lies being presented around the merits and function on the Voice. 

The first that Indigenous people do not already have a voice, which she denounced in pointing to the number of First Nations elected parliamentarians; the second being the proposal is an invitation from Indigenous people, which she said played into “backwards near colonial racial stereotyping, suggesting that all Aboriginal people think the same”; the third being it would only serve as an advisory body; and fourth, that the government understands how the Voice will operate and who its representatives will be. 

“Describing the voice as an advisory group understates its significance and gives the misleading impression it would be a benign sounding board for ideas,” Ms Price said.

“No matter what the Government, the advocates, and the activists say about what the voice will or won't do, the fact is they don't know.”

With particular mention to the marginalisation of women, sexual and household abuse and the range of concerns facing some Indigenous Australians, Ms Price repeatedly criticised grouping all First Nations people as disadvantaged.

“What has become abundantly clear is that when racial separatism that designates a class of Australians as an other is prioritised over serving Australians on the basis of need we experienced failure. 

“An industry has been established that provides opportunity for the already privileged to occupy positions that are supposed to deliver outcomes for our marginalized, based purely on the fact they share a racial heritage.

“My hope is that after October 14, after defeating this voice of division, we can bring accountability to existing structures, and we can get away from assuming in the city activists speak for all Aboriginals and back to focusing on the real issues - education, employment, economic participation and safety from violence and sexual assault.”

Ms Price also spoke of the backlash and treatment she has received, including racial vilifcation - as recently as Wednesday when she said her personal phone number was shared online - due to her position on the voice, and during her time in office. 

“I am repeating the words of the oppressor. I've been told I'm a sellout. I've been racially abused, vilified, name called and threatened with violence. And why? Because I want to stop children from being abused. Because I want to stop women and men from being killed,” she said.

“The truth for all the moral posturing, virtue signaling about truth telling. There is no genuine appetite in Canberra to tell the truth or to hear the truth. This could not be any clearer than in this government's referendum on the Voice.”

She said ahead of her first Press Club address six years ago, Marica Langton had warned her to “not draw a link between the high rates of Indigenous community violence and the acceptance of violence within traditional culture".

“My experience screamed otherwise. So I could not bring myself to expunge a painful truth for the sake of the audience who might not want to hear it,” she said. 

Earlier this week, Ms Langton, a co-author of the Voice co-design report, threatened legal action after she was misquoted as saying No voters are ‘racist’ and ‘stupid’. 

Ms Langton told a forum in Western Australia "every time the 'no' cases raise their arguments, if you start pulling it apart, you get down to base racism - I'm sorry to say that's where it lands - or sheer stupidity," 

The comments contributed to heated debate in Parliament’s final sitting week ahead of the election. 

Speaking to the ABC Federal opposition deputy leader Sussan Ley said “one out of five Australians are not racist” and “It is okay to vote no without this condemnation”.

On Wednesday, Ms Ley asked Linda Burney if she believed Ms Langtons comments “accord” with the Minister for Indigenous Australians’ request for everyone involved to act respectfully before putting a similar question to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Thursday. 

Ms Burney answered by stating she believes “everyone in this debate should act respectfully and with care for one another” with Mr Albanese saying “Australians are generous people as I think Australians are fundamentally decent”.

“I call upon everyone in this debate to be respectful,” Mr Albanese said.

Earlier on Thursday, opposition leader Peter Dutton said Mr Albense has refused to “directly condemn comments that Australians are either racist or stupid” and asked when he will "admit these incompetence and mishandling of issues that are hurting Australians and dividing our country”.

The Prime Minister said the question “says a lot about the character of the opposition leader."

"It is negative, It's angry, it's hostile. It seeks to divide," Mr Albanese said.

It came Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers called the opposition leader a “chief propagandist” and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus accusing Mr Dutton of spreading misinformation on the voice.

“No claim is too outlandish. No claim is too sinister. No claim is too absurd for this opposition leader,” Mr Dreyfus said. 

Seemingly in reference to the debate around Ms Langton’s comments, Ms Price told the Press Club “what would be racist is segmenting our nation into us and them” with a Voice to Parliament. 

Ms Price also said she did not believe there are any ongoing impacts of colonisation, but in some cases, a “positive impact”. 

She pointed to development and infrastructure, including running water, for many communities, though conceded remote communities and Indigenous Australians who “live very close to traditional culture” continue to experience margainalisation. 

Australians will vote in the referendum to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament on October 14.

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