Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney has been berated for her ‘outright lie’ after making the extraordinary claim on the ABC that the Voice to Parliament had prevented the Alice Springs crime spree.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was forced to fly to the troubled Outback town and introduce a ban on the sale of alcohol after heavy criticism from the opposition and locals over a 300 per cent increase in crime since Labor lifted the ban on the sale of alcohol in remote communities
Ms Burney told ABC Radio National’s Patricia Karvelas that if a Voice to Parliament had been instituted sooner, ‘the situation in Alice Springs wouldn’t be what it is’.
When Karvelas then pressed Ms Burney whether she or the prime minister had been tough enough with alcohol bans in the Northern Territory, the minister said of their flying visit: ‘The most important thing is that we made huge profits yesterday.
“I’ve thought about this very deeply and it was said yesterday that if the Voice to Parliament had been set up sooner, I don’t think we would be where we are in terms of where Alice Springs is right now,” she said.
However, 2GB presenter Ben Fordham called Ms Burney’s comments not only “disgraceful” but also an “outright lie”.
Ms Burney claimed on ABC radio a day after her flying visit to Alice Springs that had the Voice to Parliament been in operation, ‘I don’t think we would be where we are in terms of where Alice Springs is at the moment’
Linda Burney (above in Alice Springs with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during their brief flying-in visit on Tuesday) has been criticized by Fordham who accused her of using Alice Springs’ lawless violence to sell the yes vote for The Voice
Linda Burney had a shock. She lives in fantasyland,” Fordham said, “I hope you don’t use what’s happening in Alice Springs to build a case for The Voice, because it sure sounds like it.
‘Really, I mean Linda, you wouldn’t believe that. You talk nonsense or you live in cuckoo country.’
He also gave Ms Burney a huge spray for her reasoning as to why this would be so when she said ‘because we would have gotten practical advice from people who are representative of the community on these social issues’.
Fordham: ‘Minister, you’ve already had that. The people of Alice Springs have banged on the door and begged for your help.’
Ms Burney said the Prime Minister’s visit to Alice Springs (pictured above, a local youth trying to break into the town’s Todd Tavern liquor shed) had been a success
The minister said of Alice Springs that it was ‘wrong to think the problem here is just alcohol’ and that Monday and Tuesday bans were ‘huge profits’.
National Party senator Matt Canavan also weighed in on Ms Burney’s comments, saying she should quit her job.
“It shows how unreachable these people are. We have a whole department here in Canberra dealing with Indigenous affairs.
“If they couldn’t see what was going on in Alice Springs and report it back to their own minister, what hope do 25 strange people in the Indigenous Voice have to do the same?
“This is clearly a minister who is not a good fit for her. She should go. How could she not know what was going on in Alice Springs. It’s not another planet.’
He also said the question of Australia Day’s date could be added to The Voice’s referendum and it would ‘cost nothing’.
Fordham quoted last month from a parliamentary inquiry into the demise of the Stronger Futures legislation in July 2022, which lifted the decade-long ban on alcohol in the Northern Territory’s more than 40 Indigenous urban camps.
Stephen Gourley, director of emergency medicine at Alice Springs Hospital, told the hearing that since the bans were lifted “the number of injuries we’ve seen is appalling, it’s mostly women who are being beaten.”
During the same inquiry, Dr John Boffa, Alice Springs GP, urged the return of the ban on grogs, saying ‘we need to maintain additional protections and additional measures until we can see evidence that childhood trauma is easing’.
Last October, the Central Desert Regional Council reported on the immediate consequences of lifting the grog ban as “a spike in alcohol-fueled violence.”
And in June 2022, on the eve of the lifting of the ban, eight local Indigenous groups and Central Australia Aboriginal Congress Chief Donna Ah Chee warned Ms Burney in a letter that “allowing greater access to alcohol will undoubtedly fan this fire’.
Linda Burney on her Outback private jet tour last year to sell the Voice on which she was accused of ‘dripping with Gucci’
Marion Scrymgour, a federal MP from Alice Springs, had also warned: ‘You can’t just suddenly pull the pin without some protection or plan for the vulnerable women and children’.
Fordham said: ‘Everyone … knows it was the pressure from this radio station that pushed her and the Prime Minister into action and even then they didn’t listen because all they’ve done is support grog bans on Mondays and Tuesdays.
“And they haven’t done anything about the kids as young as five who roam the streets at night. There’s no point in giving people a voice if your ears are clogged.
To suggest that a vote in the Constitution would have made a difference is both outrageous and laughable. It’s an outright lie’
Listeners called up Fordham and wondered what Mrs. Burney had been up to for the past ten months?
National Party senator Matt Canavan also addressed Ms Burney’s comments, saying she was “awake” and should quit her job.
In her interview with Radio National, Ms Burney admitted that Alice Springs was ‘a huge flashpoint’, but alcohol denial was the only problem.
She said the city had “a complex set of problems” and the prime minister’s six-hour visit was “very good.”
Pressed again by Karvelas about whether she had not urged the NT government to take measures on alcohol control sooner, she replied: ‘The main thing is that we made huge profits yesterday’.
Linda Burney has previously come under fire over the government’s Indigenous vote in parliament vote three months ago, when Senator Jacinta Price joked about her private jet tour of outback communities while “dripping on Gucci” .
Ben Fordham has accused Indigenous Voice minister Linda Burney of telling ‘an outright lie’ over her claims that The Voice had prevented the current crime spree in Alice Springs