A storm has erupted over a strongly-worded attack penned by conservative political candidate Bess Price on a respected Aboriginal elder and two Alice Springs Amnesty International activists.

Price — an indigenous Country Liberal candidate in the August 25 NT election — despatched an ill-tempered 1250-word response on Tuesday to an AI pre-election survey that was quickly leaked to truth organs like the online Alice Springs News and The Australian — which splashed it on its front page today.

Last week, Amnesty’s James Milsom and Rachel Toovey sent the questionnaire to candidates for the seats of Arnhem, Barkly, Braitling, Namatjira, Nhulunbuy, Nightcliff and Price’s intended seat of Stuart. It asked whether they were committed to supporting the 30% of Territory Aborigines that live in remote communities.

The response, emanating from husband Dave Price’s email address, fails to answer Amnesty’s questions and instead accuses the activists of supporting r-pists and killers.

“When Aboriginal women in Central Australia ask for help, when they are killed, r-ped and beaten, when they cry for their abused children you ignore them and you support those who are oppressing them.”

Price brands Tasmanian Australian of the Year state finalist and former ATSIC commissioner Rodney Dillon a liar, a “white blackfella” and “physically white”. She reckons Milsom and Toovey are spoilt southerners:

“You are not interested in our rights you are only interested in your own agenda that you learned at the universities you attended down south … the best thing I can say about you is that you are well meaning but young, idealistic and naive, but maybe you are racist, arrogant and don’t give a damn about my people because you have your own agenda.”

Price lives in Alice Springs’ Kurrajong Drive, 250km from her wannabe electorate, and runs a successful consultancy. She holds an applied science degree from Curtin University. Stuart is currently held by Price’s nephew Karl Hampton on a margin of 15%.

Internal Amnesty International correspondence seen by Crikey says Milsom was “shaken” by the assault, and shows how The Oz‘s Stuart Rintoul was desperate to obtain a quote from Dillon who, in the end, could not be contacted. Dillon has spent his life fighting for the rights of his people.

NT health minister Kon Vatskalis has taken to Facebook to attack Price. It is understood members of Vatskalis’ family were saved from the Greek Junta as a result of Amnesty’s activism.

The Land Holds Us report, published in August last year, shows the rights of Aboriginal communities have been eroded since Mal Brough’s 2007 intervention. It argues that policies of the Gillard and NT governments can constitute grave human rights violations when applied to the so-called “homelands”.

The activists have called for “a commitment … to adequately fund housing, infrastructure and services to support positive health outcomes, preservation of land and culture, economic development and the self-determination of homelands communities across the Northern Territory”.

Price’s campaign echoed another from May this year, when she attacked Amnesty over its criticisms of the Gillard government’s plans to extend the intervention for another 10 years, claiming that Amnesty wanted “to keep us in ghettos in the bush without individual rights, choices and options”. And on Tuesday night, Price starred when SBS’s Insight program reprised the “debate” about true claims to Aboriginality. The program was followed up in today’s Herald Sun by popular tabloid polemicist Andrew Bolt, who was keen to rake over what Price’s stand meant for “free speech”. Bolt’s employer News Limited controls 70% of Australia’s metropolitan newspapers.

Price previously hit the headlines last year when campus indigenous rights activist turned Australian bureau chief Patricia Karvelas turned an off-beam tweet by Larissa Behrendt into a front-page story reporting Price’s outrage.

Despite the federal government’s pledge to “close the gap” between the indigenous and non-indigenous population, huge gulfs remain on measures like life expectancy, infant mortality, pre-school participation, reading, writing, numeracy, year 12 attainment and unemployment. The level of indigenous disadvantage in Australia is regarded as an international embarrassment as Australia’s first inhabitants continue to live in third-world conditions amid a once-in-a-generation mining boom.