Lidia Thorpe

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Lidia Thorpe
Lidia Thorpe 2020.png
Deputy Leader of the Greens in the Senate
Assumed office
10 June 2022
LeaderAdam Bandt
Preceded byOffice established
Senator for Victoria
Assumed office
4 September 2020
Preceded byRichard Di Natale
Member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly for Northcote
In office
18 November 2017 – 24 November 2018
Preceded byFiona Richardson
Succeeded byKat Theophanous
Personal details
Born
Lidia Alma Thorpe

1973 (age 48–49)
Carlton, Victoria, Australia
Political partyGreens
Children3
RelativesAlma Thorpe (grandmother)
WebsiteOfficial website

Lidia Alma Thorpe (born 1973) is an Australian politician representing the Australian Greens. As of August 2022 she is a senator in federal parliament for the state of Victoria. She is the first Aboriginal senator from Victoria, and since June 2022, she has served as the Greens' deputy leader in the Senate.

Thorpe has previously been a member of the Victorian Parliament. On winning the Northcote state by-election on 18 November 2017 she became the first Aboriginal woman elected to the state's parliament, and served as the member for the division of Northcote in the Legislative Assembly from 2017 to 2018.

Thorpe has been the subject of controversy for her statements regarding Australia's monarchy, flag and parliament.

Early life and education

Lidia Alma Thorpe[1] was born in 1973 in Carlton, Victoria.[2][3] She is of DjabWurrung, Gunnai, and Gunditjmara descent, and, coming "from a long line of strong black women", identifies as Aboriginal.[4] Her mother is Marjorie Thorpe, who was a co-commissioner for the Stolen Generations inquiry that produced the Bringing Them Home report in the 1990s, and later a member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, and a preselected Greens federal candidate for Gippsland, and Marjorie's mother is activist Alma Thorpe.[5]

Thorpe grew up in Housing Commission flats in Collingwood, and went to Gold Street Primary School in Clifton Hill. She did Year 7 at Fitzroy High School, Year 8 at Collingwood High, then back to Fitzroy High for Year 9, but left soon afterwards, at the age of 14. She enjoyed playing Australian rules football and netball, and says that she was very competitive.[5]

Her first job was working with her uncle Robbie Thorpe, at the Koori Information Centre at 120 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, which at that time was "a hub of Black political activity". From that day onwards, she has worked continuously, apart from six-month breaks when having babies.[5]

She holds a Diploma of Community Development from Swinburne University of Technology, a graduate certificate in public sector management, and a Certificate IV Indigenous Leadership.[6]

She became a single mother at the age of 17.[5]

Early career

Thorpe has worked as the Aboriginal employment adviser for the Municipal Association of Victoria and was president of the Lakes Entrance Basketball Association for three years. She has also been a member of the school council of the Nowa Nowa Primary School, a steering committee for Indigenous administrators, and of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (Victoria). She worked as a project manager with the East Gippsland Shire Council,[7] Indigenous manager at Centrelink, and manager at Lake Tyers Aboriginal Training Centre.[6]

Thorpe was the co-chair of the Victorian NAIDOC Committee from 2014 to 2017.[8][9][10][7]

In 2013, Thorpe was declared bankrupt, with over A$700,000 in debts, including monies owed to Indigenous Business Australia, and A$55,000 owed to the Australian Taxation Office. She said that her bankruptcy resulted from domestic violence, stating "like many survivors of family violence, I ended up losing everything in a bid to protect myself and my family from an impossible situation".[11] Her ex-husband, who was an alcoholic, confirmed her account of the marriage breakdown. She was discharged from bankruptcy in 2016.[5]

Political career

Victorian Legislative Assembly

Thorpe at a rally in Melbourne in 2019

Thorpe won the seat of Northcote at the 2017 by-election on 18 November 2017 after receiving 45.22% of the primary vote, which became 50.93% after the distribution of preferences, 11% more than the Labor candidate.[12] She was sworn in as a member of parliament on 28 November 2017 and she delivered her first speech to the Assembly the following day.[13][14] Thorpe was the Australian Greens Victoria portfolio holder for Aboriginal Justice, Consumer Affairs, Skills and Training, Sport and Mental Health.[4][15]

In May 2018, she organised an historic gathering of Aboriginal elders at the Parliament of Victoria to discuss the state's treaty processes. The meeting was organised as part of Thorpe's campaign to implement clan-based treaties, which would recognise the approximately 100 Aboriginal clans in Victoria. At the time, Thorpe said: "Our sovereignty and each of our language groups and our Clans must be clearly recognised in the government's treaty advancement legislation".[16] The delegation of clan Elders unanimously agreed to form an Elders' Council. Thorpe supported the Victorian Government's 2018 Treaty bill, but stated that she would continue to push for clan sovereignty to be recognised as the Treaty process advances.[17]

Thorpe lost her seat to Labor candidate Kat Theophanous at the 2018 Victorian state election,[18] with her term finishing on 19 December 2018.[6] She told ABC Radio Melbourne: "We need to have a good look at ourselves and have a review of what this election has done to our party, losing quite a considerable amount of Greens members". She said Labor ran a "dirty campaign" against her but conceded that negative coverage due to internal party scandals had also contributed to her defeat.[18]

Senate

Lidia Thorpe being sworn into parliament in October 2020

In June 2020 Thorpe was preselected by Victorian Greens members to fill the federal Senate vacancy caused by former leader Richard Di Natale's resignation.[19] She was appointed to the vacancy at a joint sitting of the Victorian Parliament on 4 September, and was sworn in on 6 October 2020.[20][21] She is the first Aboriginal woman to represent Victoria in the Senate and is the first Aboriginal federal parliamentarian from the Greens.[19][20]

In a speech to Parliament in May 2021, Thorpe assumed that the Attorney-General of the Northern Territory was a white male, when the Attorney-General, Selena Uibo, was an Indigenous woman.[22]

In December 2021, Thorpe was accused of telling Liberal Senator Hollie Hughes "at least I keep my legs shut" during a parliamentary session. The Senate had been debating the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and Hughes alleged that Thorpe made the comment in reference to her autistic son. Colleagues of Hughes said that she was left in tears. Thorpe apologised unreservedly on the same day and denied any reference to Hughes's son.[23]

Following the 2022 federal election, at which she was re-elected, Thorpe was elected by the Greens party room as the party's deputy leader in the Senate.[24][2]

In a June 2022 interview, Thorpe said she was there to 'infiltrate' the Australian parliament and that the Australian flag had "no permission to be here". Fellow Aboriginal Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price denounced Thorpe's comments and called for her dismissal from parliament.[25]

Thorpe gained media attention during her swearing-in ceremony, which took place later because she had been absent the preceding week. She added the words "the colonising" in the required Oath of Allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II by saying "I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the colonising Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law". Thorpe was immediately critised by fellow Senators. Following an appeal by Senate President Sue Lines that the oath must be taken word-by-word, Thorpe recited the pledge once more, this time omitting the two words.[26][27]

Ongoing roles and interests

Thorpe is managing director of the Clan Corporation, an enterprise focused on sustainable housing and renewable energy.[7][1][6]

Thorpe is or has been the delegate for the Lakes Entrance Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, the Victorian representative to the National Advisory Committee for The Smith Family and co-chair of the Victorian NAIDOC Committee. She has worked in Aboriginal health, funeral services, and children’s services.[7]

Activism

Thorpe is a leader of the Pay the Rent campaign, which calls on non-Aboriginal Australians to voluntarily pay reparations on an individual basis through an organisation of the same name.[28] She is the facilitator of the organisation's emerging Sovereign Body component, which is "based on the notion of community-control and Sovereignty and will have complete authority over how the monies are spent".[29]

Thorpe has been critical of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, believing there should be a treaty before an Indigenous voice to government. Thorpe led a walk-out of the Uluru convention, believing that it was "hijacked by Aboriginal corporations and establishment appointments and did not reflect the aspirations of ordinary Indigenous people".[30]

On Australia Day 2019, an inaugural dawn service organised by Thorpe was held at the Kings Domain Resting Place as a day of mourning and reflection on the colonisation of Australia with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in attendance for the ceremony.[31]

Recognition

Thorpe was awarded the Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership in 2008.[7]

Personal life and family

Thorpe's grandmother, Alma Thorpe, was one of the founders of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service[32][33] in 1973, the year of Lidia's birth, and was also involved in the setting up of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Both Alma and her mother, Edna Brown, were Koori activists in Footscray and Collingwood. Edna had been forcibly moved out of Framlingham Aboriginal Reserve in 1932, aged 15, before becoming a community activist.[5]

Thorpe's sister is Meriki Onus, who co-founded the Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) collective that was a driving force behind the Australian Aboriginal Sovereignty movement.[5]

Her uncle is activist Robbie Thorpe, who is linked to some of the earliest struggles for Aboriginal Australian self-determination, and also involved with the Pay The Rent campaign.[5]

Thorpe has three children[34][4][35] and as of April 2022 is "proud grandmother of four grandchildren".[5]

References

  1. ^ a b "Historical details for ABN 65 868 640 208". ABN Lookup. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Senator Lidia Thorpe". Senators and Members of the Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  3. ^ Wahlquist, Calla (29 November 2017). "Lidia Thorpe 'finds her voice', the first Indigenous woman to do so in Victorian parliament". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "Lidia Thorpe". Australian Greens Victoria. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Latimore, Jack (23 April 2022). "'Shouty, uninformed, ineffective': How Senator Lidia Thorpe annoys the establishment". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d "Former Member Profile - Ms Lidia Thorpe". Parliament of Victoria. 8 October 2021. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Lidia Thorpe: Emerging Leader 2008 - 2009". Indigenous Fellowship. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  8. ^ "The Committee".
  9. ^ Green, Antony. "2017 Northcote by-election". Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  10. ^ Towell, Noel; Preiss, Benjamin (11 September 2017). "Northcote by-election: Greens pick their woman for key battle of the north". The Age.
  11. ^ Hore, Monique (26 October 2017). "Greens Northcote candidate reveals abusive relationship led to her bankruptcy". Herald Sun. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  12. ^ "Northcote District By-election 2017 : Northcote District". VEC. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  13. ^ Carey, Adam (29 November 2017). "State's first Aboriginal woman MP Lidia Thorpe speaks of genocide, lingering disadvantage". The Age.
  14. ^ Raue, Ben (19 November 2017). "Northcote byelection: Greens' Lidia Thorpe takes Melbourne seat from Labor". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  15. ^ "Ms Lidia Thorpe". re-member: a database of all Victorian MPs since 1851. Parliament of Victoria. Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  16. ^ Hocking, Rachel (14 May 2018). "Victorian Elders call for Clan-based treaties and more inclusion in process". NITV. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  17. ^ Banger, Marie; Offer, Kaitlyn (21 June 2018). "Victoria passes Aboriginal treaty bill". The Age. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  18. ^ a b Florance, Loretta (26 November 2018). "Victorian election should prompt Greens to take a 'good look at ourselves', losing Northcote MP says". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  19. ^ a b Cox, Lisa (20 June 2020). "Aboriginal activist Lidia Thorpe to replace Richard Di Natale as Greens senator for Victoria". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  20. ^ a b Osborne, Paul (4 September 2020). "Vic endorses Thorpe as new Greens senator". The Canberra Times.
  21. ^ Brett Mason (6 October 2020). "Senator @lidia__thorpe arrives on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country carrying a Message Stick "memorialising the 441 First Nations people who have died in custody without justice" #auspol @SBSNews @NITV". SBS News. Twitter.
  22. ^ Heaney, Chelsea (13 May 2021). "NT Attorney-General slams speech from Greens Senator that assumed she was a man who 'hopefully' was white". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  23. ^ "Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe accused of 'legs shut' gibe at Liberal colleague". news.com.au. 2 December 2021. Retrieved 3 December 2021.
  24. ^ Bandt, Adam [@adambandt] (10 June 2022). "I thank my colleagues for their strong and continued support. After our best election result ever, I am very excited to be the Leader of an expanded Greens Party Room & leadership team as we fight for action on climate and inequality" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  25. ^ Graham, Ben (23 June 2022). "Greens senator Lidia Thorpe said she is 'here to infiltrate' Australia's parliament". news.com.au. Archived from the original on 23 June 2022.
  26. ^ "Australian senator Lidia Thorpe calls the Queen a 'coloniser' in mandatory oath of allegiance for parliament". inews.co.uk. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  27. ^ Butler, Josh (1 August 2022). "Australian senator calls the Queen a coloniser while being sworn in to parliament". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 1 August 2022.
  28. ^ Thorpe, Lidia (26 January 2020). "This invasion day, we're asking you to pay the rent". The Big Smoke.
  29. ^ "About Us". Pay The Rent. 9 September 2020. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  30. ^ Grand, Chip Le (25 June 2020). "Without treaty, incoming senator can't feel part of 'Team Australia'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  31. ^ Wahlquist, Calla (26 January 2019). "'Overwhelmed': Hundreds attend first dawn service to be held on Australia Day". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 November 2020. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  32. ^ "2011 Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll - Alma Thorpe". State Government of Victoria. 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  33. ^ Carey, Adam (19 November 2017). "New Greens MP Lidia Thorpe's long road from Nowa Nowa to Northcote". The Age.
  34. ^ "Lidia Thorpe website". Archived from the original on 21 June 2020.
  35. ^ "Senate Hansard - Wednesday, 2 December 2020". Parliament of Australia. 2 December 2020. Retrieved 3 December 2020.

External links

Victorian Legislative Assembly
Preceded by Member for Northcote
2017–2018
Succeeded by