HomeAustraliaAustralian indigenous rights activist starts dispute after claiming colonialism is 'positive'

Australian indigenous rights activist starts dispute after claiming colonialism is ‘positive’

British colonialism is now having a positive effect on Aboriginal people, a leading indigenous activist has claimed, sparking anger in the run-up to Australian Indigenous Rights Referendum.

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, a senator for the Northern Territory and a leading voice in the “No” campaign, denied it. Indigenous villages they were still suffering as a result of British settlement.

“An absolutely positive impact,” he said, responding to journalists’ questions. “I mean, now we have running water and food available.”

The comments by Ms Price, the Conservative opposition spokesperson for Indigenous Australians, sparked an immediate backlash in an already intense debate over a possible new law that would give Indigenous people greater influence over government policy.

Price, who is from the Warlpiri group but also has Celtic heritage, argued that Indigenous people now have the same opportunities as all Australians as a result of the infrastructure and political systems brought in by settlers.

“We certainly have probably one of the best systems in the world in terms of democratic structure compared to other countries; That’s why immigrants flock to Australia.

“If we continue to tell Aboriginal people that they are victims, well, we are effectively taking away their agency… That is the worst thing you can do to any human being: tell them that they are a victim without agency and that is what I refuse. to do. do.”

‘Ongoing trauma and pain’

Linda Burney, Australia’s indigenous minister, said Price’s comments about colonization were offensive and “a betrayal”.

“We just have to look at the Stolen Generations and the impacts they have had, in terms of ongoing trauma and pain,” Ms Burney said.

Australians will vote on whether to support a constitutional change that would enshrine in law an “advisory body” to give input on policies affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It has been described as Australia’s “Brexit moment”.

Polls suggest that the new law proposed by the ruling Labor Party could be rejected at the polls in October.

Price also refused to condemn the views of “No” campaigners who have advocated for Indigenous people to undergo blood testing to receive welfare payments.

The backlash to Ms Price’s comments has further heightened emotions and divisions at a time when activists on both sides have reported being victims of harassment and racism.

On Wednesday, prominent ‘Yes’ campaigner Professor Marcia Langton revealed she was seeking legal advice over media comments suggesting she had branded ‘No’ voters “stupid” and “racist”.

“I’m saying that the claims being made in the ‘No’ case are based on racism and stupidity, and they appeal to racism and stupidity,” Professor Langton said.

angry response

Indigenous people die eight years earlier than other Australians, are less likely to finish school and suffer the worst rates of disease, statistics show.

Its supporters see the Voz Indígena referendum as a way to close the gap in terms of disadvantage and heal generational trauma caused by the atrocities committed after the British settlement 200 years ago.

Grassroots representatives of Aboriginal people across the Northern Territory responded to Ms Price’s comments with anger, claiming the senator did not represent their views.

In April, 90 elected Indigenous community leaders from 15 language groups in central Australia signed a statement saying: “Ms Price must stop pretending we are her people.”

Price, in his speech on Thursday, accused the activists of exploiting less educated people for political gain.

“Isn’t it simply ironic that their voices are not heard even though the ‘Yes’ campaign has exploited their land for the purposes of this referendum?”

He added: “Our nation’s rule book belongs to all Australians. And it’s not a document that should be taken for granted or compromised for the sake of a vibe… The Voice designers continue to push the idea that we are different from everyone else despite also being Australian.” .

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