The Backburner

19 Feb 2016 - 10:25 AM  UPDATED 19 Feb 2016 - 10:25 AM

Northern Territory minister Bess Nungarrayi Price has been chastised following her outrageous use of the native language of a land in the building that claims to represent its people.


Price lost a request to speak her traditional language of Warlpiri in the parliament on the basis that, in the sixty thousand year history of the nation, there was a proud forty year history of speaking English in the chambers.


The decision has been defended by a spokesperson for parliament saying it’s about tradition.


“Frankly, the language of the parliament is English,” said one spokesperson. “We’re not in the business of attempting to learn the language of the native peoples of this land. That requires far too much engagement. We speak English here and have traditionally always spoken English here ever since we took the land of the people who didn’t speak English here.


“It’s just not practical to have this language spoken in the chambers of parliament. It’s not practical to have it spoken in any parliamentary proceedings nationwide. It won’t be understood! Yes, that’s maybe because indigenous people are so horrifically underrepresented in our governmental systems that no one is around to understand it but that’s a bigger problem that it’s much easier to ignore.


“We can’t be expected to listen to a language we don’t understand. I mean, sure, she could translate what she had just said without hassle but having to listen to a different language might unnecessarily remind me of a different cultural experience and a different way of understanding Australia. Really, that’s just too complex for my liking.”


The spokesperson claimed that it was the view of parliament that everything would be more harmonious if language was restricted to English.


“It’s a difficult situation. I mean, on face value it seems completely terrible and the optics are awful but when you delve deeper it’s also bad on the inside.


“We just have to understand that speaking in your native tongue allows people to speak more freely and be comprehended more clearly when interpreted. When you’re trying to ignore someone it’s much harder when you truly understand them. That’s a risk we’re not willing to take.


“Let’s just keep everything nice and simple in the language of the oppressor.”





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