Northern Territory senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has hit out at the AFL for it’s decision to officially support the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, warning that it may even “turn fans off.”
The AFL announced it’s decision to support the Voice on Thursday, a widely anticipated move that comes immediately before the league’s Indigenous round.
The announcement makes the AFL the sixth major Australia sporting body to announce it would officially support the constitutional change, following the NRL, Rugby Australia, Football Australia, Tennis Australia and the Australian Olympic Committee.
However, the decision has been slammed by opponents of the Voice, with the shadow minister for Indigenous Australians describing the Voice proposal as “the most divisive referendum in our nation’s history.”
“I’d like to call upon Gillion McLaughlin to actually provide myself and the rest of Australia the unequivocal evidence that suggests that the Voice is the only thing that’s going to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians,” Senator Price told Englishheadline Australia.
“Until he can provide that evidence, I don’t think the AFL should be going out there getting involved in politics and being part of dividing our nation.
In their short statement announcing the decision, the AFL said that while they encourage everyone to “seek the information they need to form their own views on the referendum” Australia’s largest football code “proudly supports the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution through the Voice to Parliament.”
The league said the decision had been made after “many discussions” with clubs, staff, players and the AFL’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council.
But according to Senator Price, the AFL’s decision risks ostracising people who don’t support the Voice, especially Indigenous people.
“I think it puts pressure on players. I think it certainly puts pressure on fans. It may even turn fans off their teams for those teams that have come out in support as well,” Senator Price said.
According to the Northern Territory Senator, who lives in Alice Springs, a lot of Indigenous Australians feel a “sense of ostracisation” when they disagree with the majority on issues affecting Indigenous people.
“The feeling of being threatened under those circumstances is huge for a lot of indigenous people, and (this) puts pressure on Indigenous people,” she said.
“I’d imagine that if there are Indigenous players that don’t support it, or you know, don’t want to come out in any way would feel like they’re pressured to come out
“When it is their right not to and it’s their right to go to that ballot box privately and determine how they want to vote without being told how to suck eggs, basically.”
The shadow Indigenous affairs minister also commented on the declining support for the voice, after the latest poll showed support had fallen from 58 per cent to 53 per cent, saying this reflected the mood she was picking up while traveling around the country.
“Australians are still looking for answers and not getting those answers,” Senator Price said, adding that polls would continue to fall until the government can “provide the unequivocal evidence” proving that the Voice is “actually the answer to all our woes – which they certainly can’t because they can’t even provide detail of how it’s going to work.”
“Australians are very cautious. Australians don’t like being taken for a ride because Australians aren’t silly,” she said.
“And as far as I know, the many Australians I speak to have many different backgrounds don’t like the idea of being divided along the lines of race.”