Gunnai-Kurnai Gunditjmara woman, Lidia Thorpe, has become the Greens’ first federal Aboriginal representative after being selected to take over former Greens leader Richard Di Natale’s seat over the weekend.
After a two-week state-wide voting period which saw thousands of Victorian Greens cast their votes, Thorpe emerged victorious as the clear winner.
Co-Convenors, Effy Elden and Ella Webb, said they were “delighted” to announce Thorpe as the next Senator for the Victorian Greens.
“[Thorpe] was elected directly by our membership at the culmination of a fantastic grassroots preselection process,” said the Co-Convenors in a statement.
Announcing her candidacy for the position in May, Thorpe is an established activist with an extensive career in advocacy.
The Senator-Elect was previously the Victorian Greens Member for Northcote, becoming the first Aboriginal woman elected to Victorian Parliament in 2017.
Thorpe is currently on leave from her position at Amnesty International Australia as Indigenous Rights Lead, has been an advisor to domestic and family violence prevention organisation, Our Watch, and has been Chair of the Victorian NAIDOC Committee since 2014.
Prior to her victory over the weekend, Thorpe stirred up some controversy last week when she suggested the states of Victoria and Queensland could be renamed due to the links to Australia’s colonial past.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews dismissed the idea, labelling it “ridiculous”.
“I’m not interested in symbols and divisive debates, I’m interested in action that sees Aboriginal people have far greater control over their lives,” Andrews said.
Thorpe later took to social media to clarify her stance, stating The Herald Sun journalist who contacted her posed the question about renaming the state without being prompted.
“He called me on Tuesday and asked what I thought of changing the name of Victoria, I said it’s up to the people to decide, I said it’s a conversation to be had,” Thorpe wrote on Facebook.
“This was The Herald Sun’s idea, not Lidia Thorpe’s idea.”
She later shared screenshots via Twitter of her calling out the journalist via text.
Journos were desperate for a story. pic.twitter.com/7BGXQTCC0w
— Lidia Thorpe (@lidia__thorpe) June 18, 2020
Thorpe will now be sworn in to Federal Parliament and has already voiced her support for the Greens’ Green New Deal as well as Treaty over constitutional recognition.
Speaking to RN Breakfast Monday morning, Thorpe said First Peoples do not want constitutional recognition—they want Treaty.
“I think that a lot of politicians in [Federal Parliament] are missing the mark,” she said to RN Breakfast host, Fran Kelly.
“The only true consultation this country’s ever done with Aboriginal people was through the Reconciliation process.”
“Treaty was on top of the list 20 years ago, and for some reason it’s lost its way.”
“For some reason we’re talking about constitutional recognition. Aboriginal people don’t want constitutional recognition, they want a Treaty. They want an end to the injustice and we want to participate in this country as equals.
“I’d like to see that Aboriginal people are acknowledged and celebrated as the oldest continuous living culture in the world, rather than Australia’s issue or Australia’s problem.”
Thorpe joins just four other Indigenous politicians in Federal Parliament: Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, and Senators Malarndirri McCarthy (NT) and Pat Dodson (WA).
Di Natale announced his resignation from politics in February, citing family commitments, which saw Federal Melbourne MP, Adam Bandt, take over the leadership unopposed.
By Hannah Cross