Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney has blasted incendiary claims British colonisation had no lasting negative impacts on Aboriginal people.
Coalition senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price made the controversial comments during a provocative National Press Club speech outlining her opposition to an Indigenous Voice.
Ms Burney said she was shocked by the remarks, describing them as ‘simply wrong’.
‘They are offensive and a real betrayal to the many families that have experienced things like the stolen generations,’ the minister said.
Historian Henry Reynolds said Senator Price’s statements were far from the truth.
Jacinta Price said Indigenous people were better off because of British colonisation
He described colonisation as one of the greatest land grabs in human history and the beginning of a catastrophe.
‘It clearly flies in the face of a whole generation of history that has told us a totally different story,’ he said.
Jason Agostino, a medical adviser for the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, reflected on the impacts of colonisation during a parliamentary inquiry on Friday.
‘The root of the high prevalence of type two diabetes lies in the impacts of colonisation, coupled with socio-economic disadvantage,’ he said.
‘Too many people still do not have access to safe drinking water from the tap to affordable healthy food options or to a home with appropriate refrigeration.’
Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra this week, Senator Price responded ‘I’ll be honest, no’ when asked if Indigenous people were worse off because of British settlement.
‘A positive impact? Absolutely. I mean, now we’ve got running water, we’ve got readily available food,’ Senator Price said.
‘Many of us have the same opportunities as all other Australians in this country.
‘We certainly have probably one of the greatest systems around the world in terms of the democratic structure in comparison to other countries – that is why migrants flock to Australia.
‘If we keep telling Aboriginal people that they are victims, well, we are effectively removing their agency,’ she said.
Former champion AFL player Michael Long completed his walk to Canberra from Melbourne in support of the Yes vote on Thursday and said Indigenous people do have a disadvantage in Australia.
‘The real focus is closing the gap. All those things like life expectancy to housing. I mean, we were talking about that stuff decades ago and it’s still applicable today,’ he said.
‘I don’t want to be talking about closing the gap in another 20 years or 30 years. Let’s do something about it! It’s unbelievable that in 2023 we haven’t got this right.’
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has backed Senator Price, despite her failure to endorse a coalition policy of local and regional Indigenous Voices.
Mr Dutton previously said he would support regional Aboriginal Voice-type bodies rather than a national model.
Mr Dutton said people should listen to Ms Price and not the ‘capital city views’ of others, saying her comments were drawn from experience living in Alice Springs.
‘She was brave, prepared to stand up for what she believes in, and believes passionately about making a better society for Indigenous Australians,’ he told Nine’s Today Show.
During the interview, Mr Dutton backtracked on his previous calls for a second referendum on constitutional recognition for Indigenous people, should the upcoming vote fail.
Cabinet minister Murray Watt said Mr Dutton was ‘so addicted to saying ‘no’ he was now saying ‘no’ to his own idea’.
Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie said a referendum on constitutional recognition had been coalition policy for more than a decade.
‘I do believe it is time to recognise our first Australians as a statement of fact in our founding document,’ she said.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart called for a Voice to parliament rather than symbolic recognition in the constitution.
By BRETT LACKEY FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA and KAREN WONG and ANDREW BROWN FOR AUSTRALIAN ASSOCIATED PRESS
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Coverpage’s editorial stance