Conservative Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa-Price has clashed with Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong in Senate estimates after describing an ambassador for First Nations People “divisive”.
The Albanese Government has announced expressions of interest for the ambassador role for First Nations People.
The new job is open to the public, aiming to encourage “qualified and interested” individuals to apply.
In a testy exchange this week, Senator Nampijinpa-Price, who is Aboriginal, asked Senator Wong to explain the $2 million proposal.
She also claimed it suggested a “theme of segregation of First Nations people.”
“As someone who has Indigenous heritage, I do find it divisive,” Senator Price said on Thursday.
But it was a reference to Senator Wong’s Asian heritage that sparked a fiery response.
“I doubt that you would accept 0.03 per cent of your community of the Asian community on anything in regard to any decisions in regard to the Asian community of Australia, which is on the same sort of principle,” Senator Price said.
In response to the reference to her Malaysian heritage, Senator Wong said she was deeply proud that the Parliament was more diverse.
“Well, I‘ll answer that,’’ she said.
“You want to talk about my ethnicity and my heritage, I am deeply proud and deeply grateful that the Australian people have chosen to put more people from diverse backgrounds into our Parliament.’
Senator Price and Senator Wong then started to talk over each other in the estimates hearing.
“You asked me a question about being Chinese, so I am responding,‘’ Senator Wong said.
Ms Price continued to argue the proposal was divisive and would not deliver real outcomes.
“I reject that. It’s not about segregation. It’s about inclusion. And a place in our international story that we have not told,” Senator Wong replied.
“I think in the world telling the full story of who we are is a good thing to do, regardless of one‘s political views over the Uluru Statement.
“This is about telling the full breadth of the story about who we are.’
“You don‘t want to hear our answer,’ she told Ms Price. ”I’ve tried to, in good faith, explain to you senator, why we have done this, and you don’t listen.
“You have a view, that‘s your view.”
Senator Wong has previously stated that the ambassador would embed Indigenous perspectives, experiences and interests into Australia‘s foreign policy.
“The Ambassador will also lead Australia’s engagement to progress First Nations rights globally,” she said of the new role.
“This role will enhance our engagement in the Indo-Pacific region by fostering co-operation on shared interests.”