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‘Death threats’ and abuse: No campaign texts spark backlash

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price says she has had death threats after her name was linked to No campaign text messages.

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price says she has had death threats after her name was linked to No campaign text messages. Photo: AAP

Leading anti-Voice campaigner Jacinta Price says she has been “bombarded with revolting messages”, death threats and abuse after thousands of No campaign text messages were sent out in her name.

The Country Liberal Party senator said her personal phone number was posted on Twitter on Wednesday, on the same day unsolicited text messages in her name were sent to thousands of Australians.

“Hi, it’s Jacinta Price, The Referendum is on 14 Oct. This Voice is risky, unknown and divisive. Don’t know? Say no. For a postal vote go to https://postal.vote,” the texts read.

The link in the message takes recipients to an authorised Liberal and National Party website to apply for a postal ballot.

Postal voting text messages are legal, and commonly used by political parties to collect voters’ details.

But many who have received the unsolicited messages have lashed them as an “invasion of privacy”.

Other recipients pointed out Price’s name and contact details are freely available online, including the Alice Springs Town Council website and her own.

Price spoke at the National Press Club on Thursday, blaming Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for the “ugliness on display” in the debate over the Voice referendum.

“From the moment the referendum was launched by our Prime Minister, our nation has been divided. We have seen ugliness on display from right across the board,” she said.

“He chose to take this path to divide our nation…and I condemn all kinds of horrible behaviour that has come out as a result of this.”

Price also said that British colonisation of Australia had been good for Indigenous people. It came after she was asked if she accepted that trauma sparked by colonisation had been passed down between generations of Indigenous Australians.

“That would mean that those of us whose ancestors were dispossessed of their own country and brought here in chains as convicts are also suffering from intergenerational trauma,” she said.

“So I should be doubly suffering.”

Price said colonisation had delivered many benefits.

“We’ve got running water, we’ve got readily available food,” she said.

“Many of us have the same opportunities as all other Australians in this country, and we certainly have probably one of the greatest systems running around the world in terms of the democratic structure.”

On Wednesday night, in an appearance on Peta Credlin’s Sky News Australia show, Price did not confirm she had sent the campaign texts to voters. But she claimed she had a “target” on her back.

“I have had a barrage of really horrible messages today calling me a c–t and a b-word and all kinds of stuff left on my phone,” she told Credlin.

“But it says more about who they are – not me.

“I carry the target around on my back, because they need me to. Because if I don’t well who else is going to. People might be scared that they might be called racist – well, I’m copping death threats.”

Price, a former deputy mayor of Alice Springs, said it would be the gederal government’s own fault if Australia voted No.

“If the referendum goes down, that’s on Labor, for choosing a divisive and non-consultative path which sets back recognition,” she said.

Price advocates putting recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the constitution and legislated local and regional voices.

She argues putting an advisory body in the constitution gives 3 per cent of the population an “extra say” on matters affecting all Australians, negating equality of citizenship.

And the $33 billion spent on programs to close the Indigenous wellbeing gap should be audited to ensure it was getting the biggest benefit, she says.

Her speech came as federal parliament held its final sitting before the October 14 referendum.

A bitter debate has raged in parliament in recent days over claims the No campaign is using racism to sway voters.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers accused Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who opposes the Voice referendum, of seeking to “drip more poison into the well” in order to get a political dividend.

Dutton told parliament that the Voice campaign was “dividing families and our nation”.

Indigenous leader Marcia Langton has called on Dutton to remove a social media image claiming she branded No voters racist and stupid.

The image of Langton standing next to Mr Albanese includes the words “No voters branded ‘racist, stupid’ by prominent Voice campaigner Marcia Langton” below the logo of The Australian newspaper.

Langton said on Wednesday she would call in lawyers to request Dutton remove the Instagram post, accusing him of taking comments she made at a Western Australian forum on the referendum out of context.

It was still live on Dutton’s Instagram site on Thursday morning.

-with AAP

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