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Labor senator Jana Stewart says racism was “absolutely a feature” during the Voice to Parliament campaign, and denying that was to deny the lived experiences of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The youngest First Nations woman to be elected in parliament, Senator Stewart said the way the No campaign had been run had emboldened people to say things they otherwise wouldn’t have, particularly on social media.

She said she herself had been “liberal with the block and delete function” during the campaign.

When the referendum was defeated on Saturday night, leading No campaigner Jacinta Nampijinpa Price said the result did not mean Australia was racist.

“It’s time to stop feeding into a narrative that promotes racial divide, a narrative that claims to try to stamp out racism but applies racism in doing so and encourages a racist over reaction. Yes, it is time for some truth-telling,” Senator Price said.

The No campaign had lashed leading Yes advocate Marcia Langton last month after comments she made about racism and No voters were taken out of context.

Senator Stewart said to not talk about racism would be to deny “lots of First Nations people’s experience through the referendum campaign”.

“I think that it absolutely was a feature of the campaign for lots of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she told ABC Radio.

“I think it really did embolden a whole lot of people to say things that they wouldn’t have otherwise said.

“That’s not to say that every person who wrote ‘no’ on the ballot paper is racist. I think lots of people went into the ballot box with fear instead of fact, and I think that’s an incredibly sad outcome for the referendum.

“I really hope that Trumpian-style politics don’t become a regular feature of our political campaigns here in Australia.”

Senator Stewart said in her “personal view” racism had always been there, and the referendum had “brought it out”.

Moving ahead, she said there was a real opportunity to “do something about it”.

Late on Tuesday night, Lingiari MP Marion Scrymgour addressed the House of Representatives, saying the referendum’s failure showed the “terra nullius view … is alive and well”.

“The views of ‘Let’s pour scorn on Welcome to Country’ is in effect saying that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders may well have been here before colonisation, but that shouldn’t give them any ongoing or contemporary rights and status as first peoples – whether in relation to their traditional lands or anything else,” she said.

“That is basically the terra nullius view, and it is alive and well. This referendum has revealed some fault lines, and we are going to have to address them.”

Ms Scrymgour also spoke about how “aggrieved and disappointed” she was that Senator Nampijinpa Price and senator Lidia Thorpe had “each purported to speak on behalf of First Peoples communities in Lingiari”.

“I am looking forward to going back out and saying we have to build this country into a better country. I look forward to making sure that Aboriginal people take their rightful place in this country,” she said.

After the referendum was defeated, questions are now turning to what the Albanese government does next in terms of practical outcomes to close the gap.

As Indigenous Yes leaders carry out a week of mourning, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is demanding Anthony Albanese “come clean” on whether his commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart “in full” still stands.

The statement called for a constitutionally enshrined voice – which was voted down by the Australian public – and a Makarrata commission.

Mr Dutton said Australians deserved to know if their taxpayer dollars would go towards truth and treaty.

Senator Nampijinpa Price, with Mr Dutton’s support, had argued that the government should instead launch a royal commission into child abuse in remote Indigenous communities and an audit on all spending on Indigenous affairs.

Senator Nampijinpa Price moved an urgency motion in the Senate late on Tuesday, calling for the government to commit to those practical actions.

That suggestion was shut down by Labor.

Read related topics:Indigenous Voice To Parliament

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By Rahul

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