Jacinta Price takes aim at three key words at the centre of Anthony Albanese’s Voice to Parliament campaign
No campaigner and Opposition Indigenous affairs spokeswoman Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has taken aim at Anthony Albanese‘s claims the Voice is simply an advisory body.
During a speech to the national press club, the Country Liberal Party senator argued that none of the words ‘advice’, ‘advise’ or ‘advisory’ appear in the proposed change to the constitution. Instead, the word used is ‘representations’.
‘Nowhere in the question that will be put to Australians or in the proposed chapter on which we are voting do the words ‘advice’, ‘advise’ or ‘advisory’ appear,’ Senator Nampijinpa Price said.
‘If the Prime Minister truly intended for this body to be a simple advisory body … then it would have been stipulated in the proposed chapter.
‘You see, words matter. Words proposed for amendment of our nation’s Constitution matter a lot.’
Senator Nampijinpa Price also lashed accusations the No campaign is ‘sowing fear’ about the Voice, arguing their concerns stem from comments made by the government’s own hand-picked advisors.
She singled out comments made by Yes campaigners Teela Reid and Thomas Mayo about how the Voice would work.
‘What we do know is that many of the most senior advocates of the Voice have very different views than that of the Government.
‘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,’ Ms Price said.
‘They don’t know who will be on the Voice. They don’t know what it will choose to make representations on.
‘They talk about it as the first step toward establishing treaty, reparations, compensation, and a mechanism to punish politicians, presumably this means politicians like me who are not afraid to stand up to them.’
Ms Nampijinpa Price referenced Ms Reid’s criticism of statements made by Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney that a Voice wouldn’t be interested in changing the date of Australia Day.
Ms Reid said: ‘It might be the Australian Government’s preference to keep things like Australia Day but trying to limit the scope of what the people can advocate for to change is just stupid.
‘There has been no shortage of false claims that it is the No campaigners who are fear mongering over the scope of the Voice. But the reality is our concerns come from the Voice advocates themselves.’
Ms Nampijinpa Price also questioned the government’s repeated assurances the Voice will only care about health, education, employment and housing.
She described those assertions as ‘misleading conjecture’, again looping back to her belief that the government simply cannot know.
‘The Government have repeatedly promised equal representation, gender balance, and youth representation. But these are not promises the Government can make.’
Wording of the Voice question every Australian will be asked, and the constitutional change
Referendum question: “A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
Do you approve this proposed alteration?”
Relevant change to the constitution:
“Chapter IX Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 129 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice
In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:
there shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
the Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.”
She believes the money which would be poured into the advisory body would be better spent going directly to shovel-ready projects which will immediately make a difference in the community.
The Country Liberal Senator said she has been called a ‘sell out’ and subjected to racial abuse and threats of violence simply because she ‘wants to stop kids from being abused’.
‘Because I want to stop women and men from being killed. The truth is for all the moral posturing and virtue signalling about truth telling, there is no genuine appetite in Canberra to tell the truth or to hear the truth.’
Ms Nampjinpa Price said the campaign for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament is underpinned by a ‘lie… that Indigenous Australians do not have a Voice’.
‘We have been told by the Indigenous Minister for Indigenous Australians that Indigenous people do not get a say on policies or the decisions being made on our behalf.
‘I am one of 11 Indigenous voices currently in parliament… The patronising suggestion that we cannot focus our efforts on improving the lives of marginalised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders because we are looking after constituents should be rejected resolutely.’
Ms Nampijinpa’s parents Bess and David, along with her husband Colin, were in the crowd watching on, as were some of her colleagues.
‘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 inner-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.’
After years of doing things ‘for’ Aboriginal people, often with the best of intentions, the PM said a Voice to Parliament would allow Indigenous people to take the front seat on matters crucial to them.
But Ms Nampijinpa Price expressed concerns about the language used by some of the governement’s hand-picked advisors, including Professor Marcia Langton.
Daily Mail Australia revealed an unearthed comment Professor Langton made wishing a ‘slow, painful death’ on politician Mark Latham, after several videos emerged of her discussing racism in Australia.
In one article, Professor Langton described Ms Nampijinpa Price and her mother, Bess, as ‘coloured help’ for conservatives in ‘rescuing the racist image of [their] outfits’.
Elsewhere, she accused hard No voters of ‘spewing racism’.
Ms Nampijinpa Price said it is ‘backwards, neocolonial, racial stereotyping’ to suggest all Indigenous Australians should think the same and support the same policies.
‘No matter what the outcome is on October 14, it is imperative that we examine the failures of our past in order to understand how to do better. Our nation’s rule book belongs to every Australian. And it is not a document to be taken for granted or to be jeopardised for the sake of a vibe.
‘To undertake such a significant amendment, the Prime Minister owes the Australian people a clear, concise, realistic demonstration of how his Voice will deliver the outcomes that all good Australians want for our marginalised.’
Ms Nampijinpa Price previously laid out her concerns in an interview with Daily Mail Australia.
When Minister for Indigenous Affairs Linda Burney insisted early in the debate matters as close to home for Aboriginal people as Australia Day wouldn’t be in the remit of the Voice, Ms Nampijinpa Price had her doubts.
‘She cannot say that,’ Ms Nampijinpa Price said.
‘Everything is in play. Unless there is a specific list that is pre-determined by parliament that are no-go areas, right now nothing is off the table.’
But there is also a fear that well-meaning politicians may not know the weight of their words when they make references to an advisory body which is ‘culturally informed’.
‘There is no real detail about what being culturally informed actually looks like,’ Ms Nampijinpa Price warned.
‘There are elements of traditional culture that don’t recognise equality between men and women.
‘When it comes to decision-making, we’re talking about a patriarchal society here in a lot of instances.’