Every time I hear Alice Springs councillor and political hopeful Jacinta Price speak, I cringe.
Ms Price has announced her ambition to contest the NT seat of Lingiari in the next federal election as a CLP candidate, a move welcomed by Mark Latham and Warren Mundine who both sing her praises.
She gained notoriety as a leading voice in the Save Australia Day campaign and as a supporter of the Northern Territory Intervention.
Jacinta’s main argument about Australia Day is that there are more important issues that need to be addressed first. While many Indigenous people spent one day protesting on January 26th, Jacinta Price spent two months campaigning against changes to Australia Day.
I guess it’s important to get your name known if you intend running for office.
In 2016, speaking to the right-wing think tank the Centre for Independent Studies, she told the audience: “Aboriginal culture is a culture that accepts violence and in many ways desensitises those living the culture to violence.”
Looking at our sport and entertainment, our willingness to ignore the plight of refugees in offshore detention, the extent of domestic violence in the wider community, the hateful threats and horrific videos shared on social media every day, I would say this desensitisation to violence is not confined to the Aboriginal community.
It may be that drunkenness, substance abuse and violence are done out in the open in Aboriginal communities but that does not mean that they aren’t happening behind closed doors elsewhere.
When a motion was put to Alice Springs council “to accept the invitation from the Central Arrernte traditional owners to build a formal and strong relationship between the council and the traditional owners” in order to work together to “take on the many challenges of our town, such as making parents accountable for their children, remove children off the streets at night, reducing anti-social behaviour and alcohol issues in our community”, Price spoke against it.
Instead, she moved her own motion about the role she wants the council to have in reducing domestic violence. By the time the discussion was over, the offer of collaboration from the traditional owners had been rejected and Jacinta’s motion resulted in the undertaking: “That Alice Springs Town Council create a policy that supports the reduction of family and domestic violence.”
When a toddler was raped in Tennant Creek, Price was quick to post on social media.
“I have said it over and over again that a child’s life is far more important than anything else whether that be the child’s culture or kin! Those who complain about the high rates of removal of Aboriginal children fail to point out why this is happening. Those of us who push for children to be removed in order to save their lives are fighting an uphill battle. The parents are failing their children and then the system is failing the children and this has to stop! The blood of our children is on the hands of those who want to keep pushing the ‘second stolen generation’ myth … political correctness and stigma brought on by our country’s history renders us useless to act on what is the right thing to do!”
There is no question that the child protection system has, in some cases, failed to act on warning signs, but Ms Price offers little in the way of solutions.
Unsurprisingly, she is a big fan of Twiggy Forrest and the cashless welfare card.
“The evidence of deep crisis has never been so blatant. This trauma is inflicted on our people by substance abuse and violence fuelled by a taxpayer-funded disposable income. However, if a rich white man throws his support behind a group of frustrated and desperate indigenous leaders living with this trauma their plea simply is dismissed as perverse by the politically correct without offering any effective alternative solutions.”
Jacinta has the jingoism down pat.
“The Greens reaction is nothing more than the racism of low expectations and egocentric virtue-signalling of those toeing the line of an ideology that is further compounding the crisis.”
Men should get a job and kids should go to school. Young offenders should be punished and children taken from families who don’t live up to expectations. Welfare money should be administered by someone more responsible. Easy.
Because punishment and paternalism has worked so well in the past, we just need more of it.
Ms Price doesn’t speak about preventative programs or rehabilitation. She doesn’t talk about making the curriculum relevant or offer any ideas about Indigenous employment. She seems to set little store in family and connection to country. She doesn’t seem to think that pride and self-determination form part of empowerment.
In late January, a statement attributed to “the Aboriginal women of Central Australia” was read in the Alice Springs council chambers by indigenous councillor Catherine Satour, appearing to take aim directly at Price.
“To be an Aboriginal leader it requires you to be appointed and recognised as such by the Aboriginal community. As the Honourable Linda Burney MP so rightfully put: ‘Leadership in an Aboriginal cultural context is not given or measured by how much media you get or if you earn big money. True Aboriginal leadership does not come from high-level appointments or board membership. It doesn’t come from and cannot be given by white constructs. Leadership is earned; it is given when you have proven you can deal with responsibility and you understand that responsibility’.”
Mark Latham might think Jacinta Price has “impeccable credentials for speaking on indigenous issues”. Some think Tony Abbott does too.