Aboriginals in Alice Springs were more interested in what the government would to do to curb crime than in the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament, a federal Labor MP has said.
Marion Scrymgour, the member for Lingiari, said the Voice was not a priority for people in the Northern Territory town which she described as a “war zone”.
"I think the Voice couldn't be further from people's view up here. Because people are under siege in their own home," she said.
"People that I know that might have been sympathetic to constitutional reform and the Voice and looking at the referendum have become really frustrated because nothing's been done.
"So they've gone to the opposite thing of 'well why should we support the Voice if we can't even get police to protect me while I'm sleeping in my own home'."
Scrymgour told 3AW radio that she had never seen the 25,000 resident town “as bad as it is today”.
"These break-ins have got to be looked at in a more serious and urgent way because someone is going to get seriously hurt," she said. “Someone is going to get killed.”
More than 300 people have been arrested in the past seven weeks and another 400 fines issued as property crime and assaults spiral out of control in Alice Springs.
The Labor MP, who is herself Indigenous, said gangs of drunken children, some as young as five, were roaming the streets late at night.
"There's a lot of kids wondering around the streets, I don't think a lot of them are looking for trouble. There's huge issues in their home environment. That has to be addressed," she said.
Why would you want to go home if there's fighting, there's alcohol abuse, there's overcrowding, there's all these issues happening at home?
"And if you're a young person it's probably safer to be out on the street with all your mates and walking around."
She said the government needed to act with “some urgency” to deal with the problems in Alice Springs.
Scrymgour said she "absolutely' supports the Voice to Parliament but that the conversation around it could not happen while the issue of crime in Alice Springs was left unaddressed.
"I think that we can't have these conversations if there's all these issues that are impacting on communities like Alice Springs," she said.
"During my last election Lingiari had the lowest voter turnout. Now how do we get Aboriginal people but also communities to … vote in this referendum if they don't believe government's listening to them?"
Opposition leader Peter Dutton called on the Prime Minister to immediately visit Alice Springs and talk to locals about solutions.
Indigenous Senator Jacinta Price told Sky News Australia, "I've been asking the Prime Minister to visit Alice Springs. In fact before the election, before he became Prime Minister but certainly following the election.
"He's made several overseas trips to visit countries in need of support but Alice Springs has been described as a war zone, and it has been so for some time now.
"Our police are under the pump, they can't seem to get the problem under control. We do need some sort of federal support.”