Shadow Indigenous Affairs minister Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has received a formal apology from Lisa Wilkinson’s bosses at Channel 10 after The Project host struggled to pronounce her name and compared her preselection to hiring a black cleaner.
Paramount Executive Vice President of Australia New Zealand Beverley McGarvey personally called Senator Nampijinpa Price to apologise on the network’s behalf.
The apology was on the network’s behalf, but not from Wilkinson.
It’s understood McGarvey said the discussion of race did not reflect the values the network stood for and that it shouldn’t have happened.
Daily Mail Australia understands Senator Price has accepted the apology.
The comments were recorded during a lunch between Wilkinson, Brittany Higgins, her partner David Sharaz and Channel 10 producer Angus Llewellyn, in January 2021.
‘[The Liberal Party] has preselected over twenty new and wonderfully diverse and strong female candidates like, and what’s her name, Nam… Nampinjumba? [sic]. She’s an Indigenous woman,’ Wilkinson could be heard saying in an audio clip obtained by Sky News.
Mr Sharaz laughed and said: ‘She clearly got in. Clearly it was a safe seat.’
‘That’s the thing, it was – as soon as I looked at it I thought, ‘Oh, you’re joking’,’ Wilkinson replied.
Mr Llewellyn then joked about the Coalition preselecting Ms Price, saying: ‘See, we know brown people’.
The group joked about the Liberal Party’s preselection of Senator Price (pictured), with Wilkinson comparing it to a white family ‘hiring a black cleaner’
Mr Sharaz joined in: ‘It’s like, ‘I’m not racist. I have a black friend’ – it’s that argument.’
The ex-Project host then added: ‘And our cleaner’s black.’
Earlier this morning, Ms Price demanded an apology from Wilkinson on Ben Fordham’s 2GB show.
She said that she wasn’t surprised by the ‘derogatory’ comments made by Wilkinson, who she accused of virtue signalling simply to pretend she cared about Indigenous people.
‘I certainly didn’t get to where I am without hard work, respect from my community and outlining the hard issues,’ she said.
Ms Price said the level of arrogance and ignorance shown by the ‘woke class’ didn’t surprise her, adding that she thought the most offensive part of the audio was the suggestion that she had been a diversity pick.
Lisa Wilkinson (pictured Mr Sharaz) has been caught joking about shadow Indigenous affairs minister Jacinta Nampijinpa Price’s name in an audio recording
‘We have a pretty bloody good track record on preselecting individuals, on merit, who happen to be Indigenous or mixed background,’ she said.
‘It’s only the woke who believe in the diversity pick.
‘I would absolutely expect an apology from the 10 network, from Lisa Wilkinson herself. That would be the decent thing,’ she said.
Senator Price also accused Wilkinson of being out of touch with real issues pertaining to Indigenous Australians
‘What would you expect from individuals who belong to the woke,’ she said.
Ms Price said the audio clip was reminiscent of her interview with Wilkinson’s husband, Peter FitzSimons, in August last year.
FitzSimons had interviewed the Country Liberal senator for the Northern Territory via telephone for a Nine newspaper article – but Price later accused him of being ‘rude’ and ‘aggressive’ towards her, which he denied.
She claimed FitzSimons had ‘imposed’ his view on her about the Indigenous Voice to Parliament and accused her of ‘giving racists a voice’.
‘The contempt he had for me in that interview, I felt like he was talking to me in a condescending manner,’ she said.
‘I would like to know who their black friends are.’
The comments made by Sharaz, Wilkinson, and her producer took place before Ms Higgins’ interview on The Project on February 15, 2021, where she aired bombshell accusations of sexual assault.
The former Liberal Party staffer alleges she was raped by Bruce Lehrmann in Parliament House after a night out in 2019 when they were colleagues working for then-Defence Minister Linda Reynolds. Mr Lehrmann has always denied the claims.
Fordham asked Ms Price whether she thought Finance Minister Katy Gallagher should resign after it was revealed she may have misled parliament when she denied knowing about Ms Higgins’ allegations before the story broke back in June, 2021.
Ms Reynolds, who was the defence minister at the time, said: ‘I was told by one of your senators two weeks before about what you were intending to do with the story in my office, two weeks before.’
Senator Gallagher replied: ‘No-one had any knowledge. How dare you.’
Four days before Ms Higgins appeared on The Project in February 2021, Mr Sharaz messaged Ms Higgins: ‘Katy [Gallagher] is going to come to me with some questions you need to prepare for … She’s really invested now ha ha.’
He added: ‘She’s an old friend. We opened a chair together! So you can trust her.’
Later the same day, Mr Sharaz told Ms Higgins: ‘Katy Gallagher messaged me. She’s angry and wants to help. She’s got the context. Says they knew something was wrong because they fired Bruce and not you. They avoided a scandal.’
Ms Price said the finance minister should ‘absolutely be resigning’.
‘The way she has treated my colleague Linda Reynolds has been atrocious. It has been horrible to watch her be treated that way.
‘She should do the decent thing and resign.’
Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley told reporters senior government members needed to clear the air on what they knew and when.
‘The release of text messages and audio recordings has brought into question the conduct of some senior Labor ministers, and the prime minister himself, relating to whether they chose to weaponise a rape allegation for political purposes,’ Ms Ley said.
‘The government’s credibility is in tatters and so every single claim needs to be validated.’
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described the opposition attack as ‘bizarre’.
‘You had allegations by a Liberal staffer that another Liberal staffer had a sexual assault in a Liberal minister’s office, and somehow, somehow Katy Gallagher has some responsibility for what was going on here,’ he said.
‘This is bizarre.’