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Jacinta Price says people handing out how-to-vote cards "overpower Aboriginal people"

Dechlan Brennan -

Shadow minister for Indigenous Australians, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, has questioned the impartiality of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) in delivering information to remote Indigenous voters.

Her comments come in the wake of referendum numbers of the vast Northern Territory electorate of Lingiari showing, contrary to some claims, the majority of the communities supported the Voice. All but one had support for the yes vote ranging from 59.9 per cent to 92.1 per cent.

More than 40 per cent of Lingiari is Indigenous and data from the AEC's Mobile teams appear to show the "no" vote in the NT was concentrated amongst the more non-Indigenous urban centres such as Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine.

Price, a Warlpiri/Celtic woman, also suggested people who were handing out how-to-vote cards "overpower vulnerable Aboriginal communities", seemingly to counter the fact many Aboriginal people voted yes in the referendum.

She was previously rebuked by the 90 leaders from the Northern Territory Land Council, who represent dozens of remote communities in central Australia, saying of Price that she, "needs to stop pretending we are her people".

On Saturday evening, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters, "if you look at the Indigenous-dominated booths in places like Lockhart River, Palm Island, Mornington Island, Goodooga … overwhelmingly they voted yes in the referendum".

Before the results from the remote communities were tallied, Price said from Brisbane, where the no campaign were celebrating their victory, "One thing we do know is the way in which Indigenous people in remote communities are exploited for the purpose of somebody else's agenda".

"I think we probably need to look at the way the AEC, the (Northern Territory Electoral Commission), conduct themselves when it comes to remote polling at elections, at referendums," she said.

"I think we should take away those who come in with their how-to-votes, unions that come in and overpower vulnerable Aboriginal communities.

"There is a lot that goes on in remote communities that the rest of Australia doesn't get to see. If we had cameras in those remote communities, at those polling booths, Australia would see what goes on in within those communities. There's a lot of manipulation."

The AEC told Guardian Australia, "The ability to campaign at any polling place, including in remote communities, was of course the same for everyone".

"We were pleased to have delivered the largest remote voting offering ever with a 25% increase in the number of votes taken in remote communities," they said.

When asked if she was criticising the impartiality of the AEC, fellow no campaigner Nyunggai Warren Mundine intervened, launching an extraordinary spray at reporters, telling them to "wake up to yourselves and start asking real questions and making governments accountable".

"(You) know what, people are committing suicides in these communities…People are being raped and beaten and this is the questions you come up with!?" he said.

"(Stop) talking about all this other nonsense and start talking about kids … who are as young as nine and 10 who commit suicide in their communities and those kids who get raped".

During the campaign, Senator Price told reporters, "There's no ongoing negative impacts of colonisation".

Colonisation and the trauma associated with events such as the Stolen Generation are considered key factors in the high levels of poverty, suicide rates and sexual assault in First Nations communities.


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