During this debate, which included Ms Thorpe telling Kennerley to “give up her white privilege”, Ms Price made allegedly defamatory remarks about Ms Peris, according to a statement of claim filed in the Victorian Supreme Court.
“We need to start condemning the perpetrators and we know within Aboriginal Australia there are powerful men who have made it to powerful positions who have never been condemned … Nova Peris has been involved with these particular people,” Ms Price said, according to a transcript lodged in court.
“A lot of Indigenous leaders have been involved, there’s been one in the news recently, he has managed, he’s a known rapist, who has managed to make it to a powerful position and none of us in the Indigenous community have stood up and condemned these people, we have allowed them to continue on their paths.”
Ms Peris was elected as a Labor senator at the 2013 election after becoming the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal, as part of the hockey team in 1996. She served for three years and left Parliament before the 2016 poll.
Ms Price, an Alice Springs councillor and former Liberal candidate in the Northern Territory, is a vocal opponent of changing the date of Australia Day, arguing it is symbolic and won’t solve issues such as domestic violence and child abuse.
Ms Peris claims Ms Price’s comments conveyed several defamatory meanings, including that she participated in the promotion of Aboriginal men “when they were known to be perpetrators of sexual violence against women”.
Further, the remarks conveyed that she “turned a blind eye to sexual violence against women”, that she “supported rapists to achieve positions of power”, and that she was a “callous person that ignored victims”.
As well as the television broadcast, which was played across the country, Ms Peris is taking legal action over a tweet by Studio 10 that was retweeted by Ms Price.
Ms Peris’ lawyers are arguing for aggravated damages because Ms Price did not seek a response before making the statement and she had “no genuine belief” that what she said was true.
An “insulting and denigrating” letter from Ms Price’s barrister, Anthony Morris, QC, to Ms Peris’ legal team a month after the broadcast repeated the defamatory statement, the writ claims.
“Ms Peris was defamed by Ms Price on national television,” said her defamation lawyer Duncan Fine.
“After trying unsuccessfully to settle the matter, she is now reluctantly bringing a claim in the Supreme Court of Victoria to repair the damage to her reputation.”
The original clash between Kennerley and Stynes led to a complaint to the Australian Communications and Media Authority. However, Channel 10 was later cleared.
“Has any single one of those 5000 people waving the flags saying how inappropriate the day is, has any one of them been out to the outback where children, babies, five-year-olds are being raped, their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped, they get no education?” Kennerley said in the fiery exchange.
Stynes responded with: “I’m sure that is not even faintly true Kerri-Anne and you are sounding quite racist right now.”
Ms Price is yet to file a defence in court. She was contacted for comment.
Tom Cowie is a journalist at The Age covering general news.
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