Peter FitzSimons believes he is an expert on the identity of Indigenous people and what they want for themselves, as he once showed in a series of text messages to Daily Mail Australia.
Following publication of a story about his then latest book, a biography of British explorer James Cook, the columnist took time to object to one word used in a historical context.
‘Great piece, thank you,’ FitzSimons wrote on Australia Day, 2020. ‘But your [sub-editors] need to change the word from “Aborigine” which is no longer used as a noun.’
He then offered an anecdote about an old conversation with fellow former Wallaby Glen Ella – one of three Indigenous brothers to play for the national rugby team.
‘Meantime, 25 years ago I asked Gary Ella if he was an Aborigine or an Aboriginal,’ FitzSimons wrote. ‘He said, “I am not sure, but thank you for caring”!’
Peter FitzSimons believes he is an expert on the identity of Indigenous Australians and what they want for themselves. He once objected to the word ‘Aborigine’ in a Daily Mail Australia headline. FitzSimons is pictured with television presenter wife Lisa Wilkinson
FitzSimons cares a lot about words and gestures when it comes to Indigenous Australians, unlike his new nemesis, the newly installed senator Jacinta Price (pictured). FitzSimons and Price have been engaged in a war of words of an interview between the pair
FitzSimons cares a great deal about words and gestures when it comes to Aboriginal Australians – more so than Indigenous politician Jacinta Price, his new nemesis.
The pair has little in common beyond a passionate interest in Indigenous matters which they approach from positions informed by their own disparate backgrounds.
FitzSimons was raised at Peats Ridge on the New South Wales Central Coast and, when he wasn’t boarding in Sydney at Knox College, played happily with his siblings in the family’s orange orchard.
The 61-year-old attended Sydney University, pens think-pieces for Nine newspapers and has been married to television presenter Lisa Wilkinson for 30 years.
Jacinta Yangapi Nampijinpa Price is the daughter of a Warlpiri woman who served in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly and a father with Anglo-Celtic ancestry.
She was born in Darwin, grew up in Alice Springs, had her first child at 17 and has been a victim of domestic violence.
Country Liberal Party senator Jacinta Price and grandmother Tess Napaljarri Ross are pictured after an Indigenous ceremony at Parliament House on July 27
FitzSimons is a multimillionaire author of books on Australian history and political leftie who is chair of the Australian Republican Movement and wants to change Australia Day from its longstanding date of January 26.
Price, the newly elected Country Liberal Party senator, is politically conservative and and does not want an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
The Voice is a proposed new taxpayer-funded assembly of appointed indigenous people who will be given power to influence and review all government policies that affect Aboriginal people.
She is more interested in action on real problems within Aboriginal communities, such as relatively poor health, education and living standards, than symbolic gestures such as changing Australia Day’s date.
FitzSimons has been accused of epitomising white privilege, while Price is credited with having ‘lived experience’ as a black woman and witnessing Aboriginal disadvantage up close.
Columnist Janet Albrechtsen recently declared Price ‘the very finest example of a voice for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians’ and said she could imagine her as prime minister.
FitzSimons is a multi-millionaire author of books on Australian history and political leftie who is chair of the Australian Republican Movement and wants to change Australia Day from January 26. He is pictured with wife Lisa Wilkinson
The pair has been engaged in a slanging match after FitzSimons interviewed Price for a ‘Five Minutes with Fitz’ column in the Sun-Herald – a conversation which apparently ran for an hour last Thursday.
In that piece published on Sunday in a question-and-answer format FitzSimons told Price he was gobsmacked she did not support changing Australia Day from the date the First Fleet of convicts and British authorities arrived in Sydney Harbour in 1788.
What is the Indigenous Voice to Parliament?
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese wants a body enshrined in the Constitution that would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice to the Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives.
A referendum is needed to change the Constitution. The vote will need support from the majority of Australians in the majority of states to be successful.
The question that could be put to Australians is: ‘Do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?’
FitzSimons told Price she held positions ‘completely at odds with much of what(is held by) the Indigenous community – and Indigenous supporters in wider Australia like my white self.’
Price responded that many Aboriginal people were proud to be part of broader Australia and did not view themselves as victims of history.
‘My whole goal throughout is to show alternative narratives exist because I think it’s become a racial stereotype that Indigenous Australians are somehow homogeneous,’ she said.
Later, FitzSimons – who described himself as ‘about as white as they come’ – asked Price if she was ‘misusing the platform you have and are actually hurting Indigenous causes’.
Price subsequently alleged in a Facebook post FitzSimons was ‘aggressive… condescending and rude’ and that he shouted at her during their chat.
In the since-deleted post Price claimed FitzSimons accused her of ‘giving racists a voice’ in the interview but that was not printed in the Sun-Herald piece.
FitzSimons has strenuously denied all Price’s claims, saying they had a ‘friendly’ conversation and insisting he did not raise his voice at any point.
Price has since revealed FitzSimons sent her a series of late night texts demanding she withdraw ‘nonsense’ claims he was ‘aggressive’ to her when they spoke.
‘I’m quite happy for him to release the recordings if that will just settle things,’ Price told Daily Mail Australian on Wednesday.
‘It’s been a bit of a drain and there’s obviously a lot of more important issues that I want to focus on and get to work on as a new senator. It’s been a not-so-welcome distraction.’
Price said commentators should not assume all Aboriginal people think the same way, or be surprised that some did not support an Indigenous voice to parliament.
‘Enshrining it in the constitution suggests that as a race we’re forever going to be in need of special measures and as a race what somehow defines us is being marginalised,’ she said.
‘The narrative that we are a country of oppressed people and oppressors – we’ve got to get away from that. It’s not helpful, it’s not constructive.’
FitzSimons has publicly brawled in the past with other prominent Indigenous Australians who did not agree with everything he wrote or said.
Indigenous journalist Stan Grant once mocked Peter FitzSimons over the Australia Day barbeques he held at his multimillion-dollar home on Sydney’s lower north shore. Grant is pictured with wife Tracey Holmes
For years he hosted an Australia Day barbecue at the multimillion-dollar harbourside home at Cremorne he shares with TV presenter wife Lisa Wilkinson.
ABC journalist and Wiradjuri man Stan Grant, who attended the gathering on a semi-regular basis, mocked FitzSimons in a satirical piece for The Australian in 2021.
‘What a woke leftie love-in that was: journos, actors, writers, couple of ex-Wallabies (well it was the North Shore), a few washed up politicians,’ he wrote.
‘Everyone there voted yes for same-sex marriage – the year before last, they’d all tearily applauded their first gay married couple guests – they hated the Catholic Church and had cried when Kevin Rudd said sorry.’
Grant wrote that the hosts FitzSimons and Wilkinson: ‘adored Indigenous culture’.
‘There were dot paintings on the wall, a photo with their arms around Cathy Freeman at Sydney Olympic Stadium, and a framed copy of Paul Keating’s Redfern Statement signed by the last great Australian prime minister himself.’
‘Things did get a bit weird though when Fitzy excitedly gave her a copy of his latest book, a biography of Captain Cook.
Price alleged author FitzSimons (pictured with wife and The Project host Lisa Wilkinson) was ‘aggressive… condescending and rude’ in a telephone interview. FitzSimons labelled the allegations ‘nonsense’
‘Apparently Cookie was actually not a bad bloke once you got past his order to open fire on the blacks at Botany Bay. Nobody’s perfect.’
A year earlier Grant had labelled Fitzsimons’s depiction of Cook ‘ludicrous’, while the author defended his work as exhaustively researched.
FitzSimons responded to the Grant piece with a column in The Sydney Morning Herald in which he objected to its blend of fiction and fact.
‘For the record, and contrary to what Stan wrote, I don’t have a framed Redfern speech on my wall, nor a photo of me hugging Cathy Freeman, nor Indigenous paintings,’ he wrote.
‘We don’t even have the party on Australia Day any more, having moved it to an Independence Day gathering the day before, for obvious reasons.’
EXCLUSIVE: Text bombshell in Peter FitzSimons vs. Jacinta Price saga as messages show what happened after Aboriginal senator attacked left-wing author – with BOTH claiming they have witnesses to controversial interview
By Charlie Moore, Political Reporter for Daily Mail Australia
Peter FitzSimons and Jacinta Price both furiously insisted they had witnesses backing their accounts of a phone interview in which the new senator claims the left-wing author was ‘rude’ and ‘aggressive’.
Daily Mail Australia has obtained the furious text messages FitzSimons exchanged with the Country Liberals senator for the Northern Territory in the wake of the interview being published in the Sun Herald newspaper at the weekend.
Ms Price has gone public saying she felt FitzSimons – the husband of TV host Lisa Wilkinson – ‘imposed’ his view on her during their chat about the merits and faults of the Voice to Parliament.
In a Facebook post after the article was published, Senator Price alleged FitzSimons ‘accused me of giving racists a voice but that wasn’t printed’ and later told media he was ‘aggressive’ and ‘rude’ and shouted at her.
Jacinta Price and Peter FitzSimons both furiously claimed they had witnesses to their phone call in a heated text exchange (pictured) after she accused him of being ‘aggressive’
FitzSimons strongly denies her claims and swiftly texted asking her to remove the Facebook post, which she did.
The full text exchange between the pair shows they both claimed to have witnesses to the phone call as they argued over what happened.
‘Senator, I urge you to withdraw these defamatory accusations, as you know it is nonsense,’ FitzSimons wrote.
Senator Price hit back: ‘We did yell at each other. I’d like a copy of the interview… you did accuse me of empowering racists.’
FitzSimons insisted there was ‘not a single raised voice on either side’ but she replied: ‘I recall I had to yell, as did my chief of staff who was present while you were on speaker.’
The author responded by saying: ‘I have a witness at my end as well. But it doesn’t matter. It is all recorded.’
Jacinta Price (pictured), a first term NT Senator, is against an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and changing the date of Australia Day from January 26
FitzSimons again asked her to withdraw her allegations before Senator Price ended the argument by replying: ‘Please stop bullying me.
‘I don’t ever want to communicate with you again.’
Senator Price and FitzSimons originally chatted to discuss Anthony Albanese’s proposal to change the constitution to establish a Voice to Parliament, a group of Aboriginal people that would advise politicians on policies for Indigenous people.
FitzSimons is in favour while Senator Price is against, believing it will not help improve the lives of Aboriginal people.
After FitzSimons denied being rude to Senator Price, she urged him to release the recording of the interview so the public could make up their own minds.
‘I’m quite happy for him to release the recordings if that will just settle things,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘It’s been a bit of a drain and there’s obviously a lot of more important issues that I want to focus on and get to work on as a new senator. It’s been a not-so-welcome distraction,’ she said of their dispute.
Jacinta Price (in traditional headdress) is hugged by Labor senators Jana Stewart, Pat Dodson and Malarndirri McCarthy after making her maiden speech in Parliament on July 27
‘My idea of more respectful and effective journalism is to have conversations about issues without having the opinions of a journalist imposed upon you and being made to feel as though you’re somehow wrong or incorrect.
Senator Price said it is wrong for journalists or commentators to be surprised when an Aboriginal person speaks out against the Voice to Parliament.
‘There has been a racial stereotype created around how Aboriginal Australians think and act and behave and we don’t generalise in that way about white Australians, or Italian Australians or Asia Australians,’ she said.
‘So why should we continually have that way of thinking imposed upon us as Indigenous Australians? Again it is a racial stereotype and I won’t have a bar of it.’
Senator Price said people need to be more accepting of diverse views within the Aboriginal community.
‘The narrative that we are a country of oppressed people and oppressors – we’ve got to get away from that. It’s not helpful, it’s not constructive,’ she said.
‘It provides for a very narrow view of how we are as a diverse bunch of Australians and we’ve got to take it back to basics of what it means to be human.’
Australian Parliament’s 11 Indigenous MPs
JACINTA PRICE: Nationals senator for the Northern Territory
MARION SCRYMGOUR: Labor member for Lingiari
JANA STEWART: Labor senator for Victoria
LIDIA THORPE: Greens senator for Victoria
LINDA BURNEY: Labor Minister for Indigenous Australians
PAT DODSON: Labor senator for Western Australia
MALARNDIRRI McCARTHY: Labor Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians
GORDON REID: Labor member for Robertson
DORINDA COX: Greens senator for Western Australia
KERRYNNE LIDDLE: Liberal senator for South Australia
JACQUI LAMBIE: Independent senator for Tasmania
Senator Price said the Voice the Parliament is a bad idea because it will entrench the idea that Aboriginal people are all victims.
‘Enshrining it in the Constitution suggests that as a race we’re forever going to be in need of special measures and as a race what somehow defines us is being marginalised,’ she said.
‘But it’s not race that determines our marginalisation – there are those of us of Indigenous heritage who are doing really well, we’re fine and have managed to take advantage of the modern world to live successful lives.’
FitzSimons said he only confronted Senator Price over ‘mistruths’ and that he gave her views a fair airing his column.
‘What I sought to do was have her correct the record on the nature of our interview, which she partially did by deleting the post, and acknowledging to me I was not shouting…
‘As to suggestions of bullying… simply not true. The senator posted a complete and demonstrable untruth. I called her out on it, and she took down the post,’ he said.
FitzSimons has not responded to Price’s challenge to release the recordings.