‘Dramatic increase’ in false Aboriginality claims

Rosie Lewis The Australian April 19, 2023

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has used her first day in shadow cabinet to kickstart a new battle over Aboriginality, warning the newly legislated South Australian voice will trigger a “dramatic increase” in people falsely claiming to be Indigenous, as she leads the ­Coalition’s No campaign and is charged with delivering better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Peter Dutton catapulted the Country Liberal Party senator, who is one of the most outspoken campaigners against the Albanese government’s preferred model for the voice, into his shadow cabinet on Tuesday, in a wider than expected reshuffle.

The Opposition Leader also lost his second frontbencher in two weeks when Queensland MP Karen Andrews called time on her political career, saying she would move to the backbench and not contest the next election.

Ms Andrews said her decision was made a couple of weeks ago and had nothing to do with the Liberals’ position on the voice, which led NSW MP Julian Leeser to quit the frontbench last week.

Mr Leeser’s resignation forced Mr Dutton to conduct the reshuffle, which appeared to appease Liberal MPs who agreed Senator Price – who has been in federal parliament for less than a year and is a former Alice Springs deputy mayor – was the right person for the Indigenous Australians portfolio and to fight the government on the voice.

But her appointment was not without controversy. Thomas Mayo, a member of the government’s referendum working group and Yes campaigner, said it was a “massive contradiction”.

“It’s great to see Indigenous voices being elevated but, also, she is a politician and we are working on something that’s about community. She is the ­Coalition’s new ‘Canberra voice’ in parliament, opposing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to parliament,” he said.

West Australian senator Michaelia Cash, who already holds the opposition’s employment and workplace relations portfolios, also becomes opposition spokeswoman for legal ­affairs, while South Australian senator Kerrynne Liddle has been promoted to the outer ministry as opposition child protection and prevention of family violence spokeswoman.

Victorian senator James Paterson, considered a rising star in the Liberal Party, has been promoted from the ministry into the shadow cabinet as the new home affairs spokesman. He keeps his existing responsibility as cyber ­security spokesman.

The makeup of the new ministry means the Nationals, whose partyroom Senator Price sits in, are overrepresented with seven shadow cabinet ministers while the Liberals have 17. The Nationals make up nearly a quarter of the Coalition partyroom.

Senator Price said Indigenous leaders in remote communities “don’t have any idea” what Anthony Albanese was proposing for the voice or Yes campaign and didn’t believe they would be represented by “yet another model that they see as being run by those who have had long held positions within the Aboriginal industry”.

In her first press conference as the opposition’s Indigenous Australians spokeswoman, she said there were lessons to be learned from the South Australian voice and claimed it had been left open for individuals to sign statutory declarations to say they were ­Indigenous.

SA premier Peter Malinauskas last month said on the ABC’s Q+A program a person would have to declare through a statutory declaration they were Indigenous to be able to elect voice representatives, calling it “democracy at its best”. He expected South Australians would tell the truth.

Senator Price said it was an “utterly ridiculous” and “deeply concerning” prospect.

“Another matter that is of great concern, which has been talked about by a lot of Indigenous people around the country, are those who claim to be Indigenous who aren’t necessarily Indigenous,” she said on Tuesday.

“You will see in South Australia a dramatic increase in the number of Indigenous people within its population no doubt because of that particular model.”

The SA government was approached for comment.

Under SA’s voice, a person who wants to be elected is taken to be Indigenous if they are of ­Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, regard themselves as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and they are accepted as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person by the relevant community.

A person will be deemed to be of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent if they are biologically descended from the people who inhabited Australia or the Torres Strait Islands before European settlement.

Mr Dutton said a big part of his decision to promote senators Price and Liddle – two Indigenous women with deep links to Alice Springs – was to address youth crime and the sexual abuse of Aboriginal children in the town, and the Northern Territory broadly.

“We want to provide a brighter future for those kids,” he said.

“We can’t have a situation where we have young children being sexually abused, the impact psychologically on them, the difficulties it creates within a home environment.

“As we know, in Alice Springs at the moment, there are very significant issues. And I just think ­instead of running off on red herrings and trying to create these distractions, if the Prime Minister doesn’t understand that there’s a problem in Alice Springs, then he should fly there tomorrow.”

Senator Liddle has personal experience in her new portfolios, after losing a sister to family violence and caring for two children who were wards of the state.

She said she was a “huge advocate” for prevention of domestic and family violence and would prioritise holding the government to account over its 10-year national plan to end the scourge against women and children.

The South Australian, who was born and raised in Alice Springs, urged the government to clarify what funding would be available to domestic and family violence legal services in the NT to deal with “horrific” circumstances in the next financial year.

“I understand, unfortunately, the devastating impact of not just ongoing trauma but when there’s loss of life, the impact on family members and loved ones when that occurs,” Senator Liddle told The Australian

1/ Senator Kerrynne Liddle, senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Liberal leader Peter Dutton in Adelaide on Tuesday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Emma Brasier

Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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