The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has apologised to Alice Springs Deputy Mayor Jacinta Price for broadcasting “false and defamatory” views on two local radio services in September 2019 during her Mind the Gap speaking tour.
Price claimed the Coffs Harbour & District Local Aboriginal Land Councils and the ABC had falsely accused her of vilifying Aboriginal people and their culture.
The ABC issued a public apology on April 7, admitting that on Sept. 11, 2019, its Coffs Coast and Alice Springs stations broadcast radio segments about Price’s speaking tour and local reactions to it in Coffs Harbour. The reactions included a media release put out by the local Aboriginal Land Council.
“The ABC understands that the Land Council has withdrawn and apologised to Ms Price for statements contained in that media release, which it accepts were false and defamatory, and which caused hurt and distress to Ms Price and her family,” the apology said.
“The ABC did not endorse the opinions contained in the media release and apologises to Ms Price and her family for the hurt and distress caused by broadcasting those views.”
Price, who has Aboriginal and Celtic ancestry, was on a speaking tour and due to visit Coffs Harbour when nine local Aboriginal groups wrote a letter telling Price she had “no right to speak” in their community. She proceeded regardless.
The Alice Springs deputy mayor, who was a councillor at the time, told SkyNews on Sept. 10, 2019, minutes before she was due to give her talk, that the local Aboriginal groups wanted to stop her from speaking without having reached out to find out what she had to say.
“They don’t have a clue what it is I am actually talking about at this event,” she said. “But they’ve made assumptions based on the fact that I’ve spoken out against family violence and child sexual abuse in the past.”
Because other Aboriginal people asked Price to tell their stories of family violence, she said she couldn’t fathom why the Coffs Harbour groups would want to stop her from talking about issues facing many Indigenous Australians, unless they had “something to hide perhaps.”
She said that the purpose of her talks was “to create an understanding between all Australians. It is about breaking down those barriers between us, stopping the labelling and trying to bring solutions for our most marginalised Australians.”
In the ABC’s reporting of local views on the talk, Price was accused of spreading “racist vitriol” and “hate speech” against Aboriginal Australians. But the national public broadcaster did not reach out to Price to offer her a right of reply and admitted at the time that it was wrong not to do so.
Price said the move to cancel her Mind the Gap speaking tour appearance in Coffs Habour was “backward.”
However, Price claimed the Alice Springs ABC report conveyed the meaning that Price had labelled the local Gumbaynggirr people themselves as “backward,” instead of the attempt to cancel her speech.
In her amended statement of claim filed in December, Price claimed to have been “greatly injured” and suffered “hurt feelings” by the reports.
In an interview with SkyNews, Price said, “If I was of the left … I would probably be seen as some sort of hero to some journalists in the ABC, but because I have my own opinions and they differ from other Indigenous people, from the status quo if you like, I am treated quite horribly, actually.”
Price settled her lawsuit with the local Aboriginal Land Council in November and settled with the ABC last week.
Price told The Australian she was “happy” with the settlement but could not disclose any details.