Lidia Thorpe is to give up her place: Julian Burnside

Green Party leader Adam Bandt said on Tuesday he was “sad” that Thorpe had left the party, but some party members acknowledged the risk of branch members resigning if they agreed to their strong objections to the Indigenous voice before Parliament .

James Conlan, a Green Party councilor in Merribek, north Melbourne, resigned from the party on Tuesday and issued a statement expressing his solidarity with Thorpe and calling out what he calls structural racism among the referred to as Greens.

While that imprint on Tuesday said that former Green Party leader Richard Di Natale had backed Thorpe in the contest to replace him when he left Parliament in 2020, multiple sources denied it.

“I don’t think Di Natale fought for her or spoke out about her in any way,” Burnside said. Other Greens, who spoke on condition that they not be named, also said the former leader did not give her any support ahead of the pre-selection result.

Burnside criticized Thorpe for breaking with the party over the Indigenous vote in Parliament when the party decided to back the amendment in a referendum this year.

“She doesn’t seem to accept what is being said about the voice. What’s worrying about the voice? It seems to me that she should support the Greens’ position on The Voice, but she has deviated from that.”

Thorpe dismissed the idea that she had “cheated” voters and didn’t deserve to keep her seat, citing her support from black activists demanding a treaty during the January 26 protest marches.

“I’m saying that as a black woman in the political arena, people need to examine themselves,” she said in an ABC interview on Tuesday.

“If you are a true ally and believe that Aboriginal people have a say in this country, then stop demonizing me for the decisions I make based on a grassroots collective of sovereign black people.

“I would say look at January 26th, maybe rewind the news to January 26th. It seems forgotten that tens of thousands of people came out before Voice for a treaty, but also before Voice for sovereignty.”

This claim is disputed by others, who believe the protesters were expressing support for Indigenous Australians while promoting a range of views on the vote, with some supporting them and others against.

Pat Anderson, co-chair of the Uluru Dialogue, said on January 26 that few “outspoken” critics opposed the constitutional amendment, despite majority support among indigenous people.

Former Green Party leader Christine Milne said she would not comment on Thorpe, but backed Bandt’s statement that the senator could have stayed in the party and exercised a conscience vote on the vote.

Another candidate in the 2020 pre-selection, David Risstrom, said the process was fair and party members should accept it. He said party leaders did not have undue influence because party members chose the outcome.

“The vote was by all members with equal weight,” he said. “It was a vote of members, duly conducted, and we respect that.”

Some Greens members expressed support for Thorpe, saying politics sometimes results in people leaving parties to serve as independents in Parliament.


One party member said that Victorian rules stipulated that the party’s elected politicians were not to campaign for candidates in shortlists, so leaders such as Bandt and Di Natale did not support Thorpe. He said party members clearly supported her in a fair pre-selection because they were enthusiastic about her radical message.

Break through the noise of federal politics with news, perspective and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up for our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here. Lidia Thorpe is to give up her place: Julian Burnside

Callan Tansill

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