Tony Abbott has come out swinging in defence of Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, who he said was subject to “ugly, bullying” comments from Yes campaigner Noel Pearson.
Speaking after a rally for the No campaign in Western Sydney, the former Prime Minister addressed comments made by Mr Pearson that he claims were a step too far.
“Noel Pearson, bless him, still hasn’t apologised for accusing Senator Jacinta Price of ‘punching down on black fellas’,” Mr Abbott told NCA NewsWire.
“…that was an ugly, bullying thing for him to say.
“I’ve got 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 come out and said sorry for that.”
Mr Abbott was referencing comments the land rights activist had made in November 2022, claiming Senator Price was being used as a “black fella to punch down on other black fellas”.
“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 met with a rock star welcome at the No campaign rally held in St Marys on Wednesday night, spotted pausing for pictures after his speech.
He took particular issue with the accusations of racism peddled at the no camp.
“There has been a lot of bullying, and a lot of moral intimidation, and a lot of nasty vicious accusations of racism thrown at people who have had the temerity to say that, to say no, to this divisive proposal,” he told the crowd at Wednesday’s event.
“And the hardest thing in the world is to go against your noisy peers.”
The comments come just weeks after fury over comments from co-author of the Voice’s co-design report Marcia Langton, who criticised the No campaign’s tactics.
“Every time the no case raises one of their arguments, if you start pulling it apart you get down to base racism. I’m sorry to say it but that’s where it lands, or just sheer stupidity,” Ms Langton was quoted as saying.
The prominent Indigenous leader was slammed for the comments, with some arguing that she was calling No voters racist, an accusation she has strongly denied.
“I am not a racist, and I don’t believe that the majority of Australians are racist. I do believe that the no campaigners are using racist tactics.” she said in the wake of the comments.
The former member for Warringah went on to say that Australia’s “greatest citizens” were those who are “just as proud of being Australian” as they are to be “proud Aboriginal people”.
Despite the No campaign currently being ahead in the polls, Mr Abbott would not confirm he was completely confident of a win.
“I think it’s true that the more people find out about this Voice…the less they like it,” he said.
“But I‘m certainly not complacent that I don’t think anyone in this campaign is complacent.
“…I‘ll be encouraging people, right up to six o’clock on 14th of October.”
https://thewest.com.au/news/tony-abbott-hits-back-at-attacks-on-no-campaigns-jacinta-nampijinpa-price-c-12037678 Tony Abbott hits back at attacks on No campaign’s Jacinta Nampijinpa Price