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No campaign claims it wasn't "welcome" at Orange Ex-Services' Club

September 25, 2023

Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price at the No campaign event at Duntryleague Golf Club. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes

The organisers of the No campaign event with Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price on Monday night in Orange have claimed the last-minute venue change was because they weren’t “welcome” at the original venue, Orange Ex-Services' Club.

Ahead of introducing National Party leader David Littleproud and Nampijinpa Price, who is the shadow minister for Indigenous Affairs, Sam Farraway spoke about the venue change. Farraway is a state upper house MP based in Bathurst.

“I appreciate everyone making the change of venue,” Farraway told the packed crowd of around 200 people at Duntryleague Golf Club.

“I won’t go into it too much, other than to say that there was an issue with the other venue. I don’t think we were welcome there.

“There was backwards and forwards over the booking form, and I think when they discovered it was Jacinta and the Nationals, and that the discussion was around the No vote, for some reason no one would return phone calls.”

One woman told the crowd she was so incensed by the accusation that she would never set foot in Orange Ex-Services' again.

The senator described the venue balls-up as an "administrative" issue.

Earlier in the day sources at the Ex-Services' club had said the No campaign organisers simply hadn’t booked the Coral Sea Room.

Farraway welcomed “a lot of familiar faces in the room”. The majority of the crowd appeared to be in their 70s or older.

A section of the crowd. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

Littleproud warned former Nationals MP Andrew Gee - who quit the party late last year over its rejection of the Voice, and now sits as an independent - that he would essentially be living in Calare until the next federal election as part of a strategy to return the seat to the hands of the Nationals.

The crowd applauded enthusiastically at the idea of Gee being punished for his sins.

Although there has been talk that Bathurst state MP Paul Toole may win preselection to challenge Gee, others believe that Farraway has enough of a grip on the local Nationals membership to try and jump from state to federal politics.

Farraway lavished praise on Nampijinpa Price, who delivered a slick speech without notes about why the Voice was a bad idea.

She hit all the key talking points: the referendum is divisive; it won’t do anything to help Indigenous Australians; Aboriginal Land Councils are to blame for the miserable living conditions endured by people in remote communities; Aboriginal people need to stop being victims; the violence and alcoholism in some communities needs to be urgently addressed; the Yes campaign is nasty.

The audience - many of whom were enjoying a few beers or wines - cheered and clapped.

She claimed that by holding a referendum on constitutional recognition and a Voice to Parliament, prime minister Anthony Albanese was trying to have a “Gough” moment, referring to former PM Gough Whitlam and his endorsement of Aboriginal land rights.

There was no great substance to most of the questions asked by the audience.

One woman said she’d heard that the United Nations was behind the Yes vote, and said that although it might be a conspiracy theory, there could be something in it.

Littleproud squashed this notion as rapidly and politely as he could, before laying all of the blame at Albanese’s feet.

One woman said that when Labor’s Linda Burney spoke about the Voice to Parliament on the radio she wanted to slit her throat. She made a slicing motion across her neck. Many in the room - including Nampijinpa Price - found this most amusing.

Wiradjuri Elder Uncle Neil Ingram told the senator he was planning to vote No, but expressed his displeasure at controversial remarks Nampijinpa Price made recently at the National Press Club, when she said there was no enduring trauma from colonisation.

One man said he believed Nampijinpa Price would one day be prime minister, a big call given her status as a Country Liberal Party senator from the Northern Territory.


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