ABC apologises to Jacinta Price after defamation lawsuit
THE ABC has apologised to Alice Springs Deputy Mayor Jacinta Price after she launched defamation proceedings against the public broadcaster for its coverage of her 2019 speaking tour.
ABC Coffs Coast breakfast presenter Fiona Poole issued the apology this morning following a segment that aired on September 11, 2019.
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"ABC Coffs Coast and ABC Alice Springs broadcast radio segments about Jacinta Nampijinpa Price's speaking tour and local reactions to it in Coffs Harbour, including a media release put out by the Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council," Ms Poole said.
"The ABC understands that the Land Council has withdrawn and apologised to Ms Price for statements contained in that media release, which it accepts are false and defamatory, and which caused distress to Ms Price and her family.
"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."
Ms Price - a prominent campaigner against violence suffered by Aboriginal women and children - had been engaged to speak at the Jetty Theatre in Coffs Harbour on September 10, 2019 as part of her "Mind the Gap" speaking tour.
According to documents she filed last year in the Federal Court, the Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council press release falsely claimed Ms Price spreads racist vitriol and vilifies and ridicules Aboriginal people and cultures.
The court documents say those claims were repeated by ABC reporter Claire Lindsay during an interview with the land council's chief executive Nathan Brennan at a language class the council had held on the same night as Ms Price's speech.
The ABC report focused on the language classes rather than the speech at the Jetty Theatre after the land council called on the local community to boycott Ms Price's event.
The next morning, while previewing its coverage from the language classes, Ms Poole said:
"Now, (Jacinta Price) is a woman from Alice Springs.
"She has very much cosied up with the right side of politics and people like Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt.
"She's very divisive within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
"Our local Gumbaynggirr people asked, you know, that we didn't go along to the talk last night, but instead we went to Gumbaynggirr language classes, and invested our time in culture.
"We're going to head there with one of our reporters Claire Lindsay.
"She went along to have a chat with local Gumbaynggirr people about what it is about Jacinta Price that, you know, upsets them so much that they would want to boycott this talk."
At the end of the segment, Ms Poole said: "That's some of the local Aboriginal and Gumbaynggirr community speaking with our reporter Claire Lindsay about why they rejected the Jacinta Price tour.
"She did speak last night to a room of around seventy people.
"I'd say the gender balance was pretty equal in the room, it skewed white, it skewed sort of middle aged to older."
Ms Price registered a series of complaints about the ABC's coverage.
She claimed she had been defamed, saying the natural and ordinary meaning conveyed was that she "spreads racist vitriol about Aboriginal people" and "vilifies and ridicules Aboriginal people and cultures".
The ABC and Ms Price reached a confidential, out-of-court settlement.
When contacted, Ms Price would not say if she had been paid any financial compensation as part of that settlement.
"The proceedings have settled on confidential terms and the parties are otherwise happy with the outcomes," she said.
Originally published as ABC apologises to Jacinta Price after defamation lawsuit