Lidia Thorpe accuses Greens of institutional racism

Indigenous senator files human rights complaint against her former party and expresses concerns over Voice to Parliament push.

Lidia Thorpe accuses Greens of institutional racism
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Outspoken independent senator Lidia Thorpe is set to file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission, alleging she experienced institutional racism during her time with the Greens.

She stated that her legal counsel had deemed her case valid, indicating “sufficient grounds for a case”.

Thorpe, who stepped away from the Greens to support the "Blak sovereign movement", recounted her experiences on ABC's Insiders programme, stating that racism has been a pervasive presence throughout her life, including her time with the Greens. 

She called for a deeper examination of the inherent biases that underpin institutional racism, urging that workplaces be made safer.

"Racism needs to be eradicated... These institutions are founded on racism, which permits the continuance of such behaviour," she argued.

In a recent senate estimates session, Thorpe publicly accused her ex-colleague, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, of racism, as Hanson-Young questioned ABC's David Anderson and Justin Stevens about the circumstances surrounding Stan Grant's departure from Q+A due to racial harassment.

Expressing her lack of confidence in the current proposal for the Voice, Thorpe revealed she was contemplating abstaining from both parliamentary and public voting.

She voiced concerns about the proposal’s lack of clarity and effectiveness in improving Indigenous lives, and noted she could not endorse the Voice, given its potential for perpetuating Indigenous disempowerment.

Despite her opposition to the Voice’s current framework, Thorpe clarified that she wasn’t part of the opposing side, rejecting any affiliation with "racism and white supremacy."

She claims her stand will become more apparent when the Constitution Alteration Bill, detailing the referendum question, comes to the senate.

The independent senator proposed an amendment recognising the sovereign status of First Nations people, and raised doubts about the Voice's composition.

"It's parliament's prerogative to determine the Voice's form... I can't back something that offers us no authority," she asserted.

Patrick Gorman, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, disparaged Thorpe's call for an informal vote, encouraging Australians to exercise their democratic right, and stressing the need for constitutional recognition via the Voice.

Thorpe, in turn, criticised the government's method of preparing the referendum, claiming the exclusion of “grassroots, sovereign blackfellas around the country”.

She urged for more effective action, underscoring the pressing issues of high incarceration rates and the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in out-of-home care. 

“If practical steps are taken, they might earn my 'yes' vote,” she concluded.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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