Tony Abbott hits back at attacks on No campaign’s Jacinta Nampijinpa Price: ‘It’s an ugly and intimidating thing for her to do’
Tony Abbott has spoken out in defense of Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, who he says was the subject of “ugly and intimidating” comments from Yes campaigner Noel Pearson.
Speaking after a No campaign rally in Sydney’s west, the former prime minister responded to Mr Pearson’s comments which he said went too far.
“Noel Pearson, thank God, has still not apologized for accusing Senator Jacinta Price of ‘preying on black people’,” Mr Abbott told NCA NewsWire.
“…it was an ugly and intimidating thing of him to do.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott pictured leading the No rally in Sydney’s west. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw
Noel Pearson accused Jacinta Nampijinpa Price of ‘hitting’ other indigenous people in November 2022. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman
Senator Price led his own No rally in Brisbane on Wednesday night. Photo: NCA NewsWIRE / John Gass
“I have a lot of respect for him in other contexts, but I think it would be easier to respect him on this issue if he had spoken out and apologized for it.”
Mr Abbott was referring to comments the land rights campaigner made in November 2022, saying Senator Price was being used as a “black guy to pick on other black guys”.
“She’s caught in a vortex that reminds me of Pauline Hanson 26 years ago,” he told ABC radio.
“It’s a celebrity vortex, it’s very compelling, it gets her out in front of people and it gets a lot of cheers, but it’s also a redneck celebrity vortex.”
Mr Abbott was greeted by a rock star at the No campaign rally held in St Marys on Wednesday night, seen stopping to take photos after his speech.
He particularly contested the accusations of racism peddled in the no camp.
“There was a lot of intimidation, a lot of moral intimidation, and a lot of vicious, vicious accusations of racism leveled at people who had the temerity to say that, to say no to this divisive proposal,” he said. he told the crowd at Wednesday’s event.
“And the hardest thing in the world is confronting your noisy peers.”
The comments come just weeks after furore over comments from Voice co-design report co-author Marcia Langton who criticized the No campaign’s tactics.
“Every time the no side raises one of their arguments, if you start to dismantle it, you end up with base racism. I’m sorry to say it, but that’s where it lands, or just pure stupidity,” Ms Langton was quoted as saying.
The prominent Indigenous leader was criticized for her comments, with some saying she called the No vote racist, an accusation she strongly denied.
“I’m not racist and I don’t believe the majority of Australians are racist. I believe no campaigners are using racist tactics,” she said following the comments.
The former Warringah MP added that Australia’s “greatest citizens” were those who were “just as proud to be Australian” as they were “proud to be Aboriginal”.
Although the No campaign is currently leading in the polls, Mr Abbott has not confirmed that he is completely confident of victory.
“I think it’s true that the more people discover this Voice…the less they like it,” he said.
“But I’m certainly not complacent because I don’t think anyone in this campaign is complacent.”
“…I will encourage people until 6 p.m. on October 14.”