Press Club rejects racism calls over scheduling of Price, Mundine speeches

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ABC journalist and National Press Club president Laura Tingle has labelled as “highly offensive” suggestions that scheduling and staging of speeches by Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Warren Mundine were driven by race.

Price appeared at the National Press Club in Canberra last Thursday. Her address was held in a smaller room than the usual venue, which Tingle explained was the result of the senator’s last-minute confirmation clashing with long-planned renovations.

“Highly offensive”: Laura Tingle has rejected accusations the scheduling was driven by racism.Credit: James Brickwood

Price and Mundine are prominent advocates for the No campaign in the upcoming referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

A weekly one-hour address from the Press Club is broadcast live and in full on Wednesdays on the ABC, on its main channel and the ABC News channel. It also airs on Sky News Australia.

Senator Price informed the club a week before her speech she could only appear on the Thursday, Tingle said.

Tingle, who is also an ABC board member, added broadcast scheduling decisions were at the discretion of broadcasters.

“Suggestions that the timing or staging of the speeches by Senator Price and Mr Mundine were in any way driven by racism or disrespect for either speaker are highly offensive to the club, and to me as its president,” Tingle wrote in a statement published on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Tingle said it had been “very difficult” to secure confirmation dates for Price and Mundine’s speeches for months.

Mundine is yet to give his address. Tingle said he withdrew from his initial date of August 16, a slot which was later taken by Senator Lidia Thorpe, before agreeing to take the September 27 slot, which he again withdrew from.

Coalition spokeswoman for Indigenous Australians Jacinta Nampijinpa Price at the National Press Club on Thursday.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

An ABC spokesperson said all Press Club appearances outside the usual Wednesday slot are taken on merit, and due to the public interest in Price’s address, it aired live on the ABC’s main channel and News channel, as well as on digital platform, iView. Mundine’s speech is also set to air live on all three platforms.

Mundine and the office for Senator Price have been contacted for comment.

Mundine is now scheduled to appear on Tuesday, September 26, with the Wednesday slot on September 27 set to be filled by Noel Pearson, lawyer and advocate for the Yes vote. Pearson’s address is also not scheduled to be in the National Room.

Rupert Murdoch-owned The Australian called the scheduling “fortunate” for Yes advocates, as Pearson, Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney and professor Marcia Langton, all appeared, or were scheduled to appear in the Wednesday slot.

This week’s featured speakers are Melanoma Institute Australia co-medical directors, Professor Richard Scolyer and Professor Georgina Long, with the address to be held in the Kerry Packer Education Centre in Camperdown, NSW, due to the renovations in the usual venue.

More to come

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