Indigenous Senator Lidia Thorpe says that celebrating Australia Day is like “dancing on the graves” of Indigenous people.
On the ABC show Q&A, the Greens Senator emphasized the need for a treaty that includes reserved seats in Parliament for First Nations, as she believes that only a treaty can address the negative effects of colonization. She said that changing the date of the celebration would not address the harm caused by colonization and that a treaty is necessary to address this issue.
Senator Thorpe wouldn’t reveal her stance on constitutional recognition but stated that only a treaty can address the negative impacts of colonization. She stated, “You can’t just change the date of dancing on our graves; you have to address the effects of colonization.” “Let’s make a treaty so that the day this country signs a treaty is a day to celebrate.” She emphasized the need for the country to be in order before discussing the Republic and stated, “We need a treaty, not just a group of advisors.”
She suggested that if Australians vote for a Republic, it could eliminate the Voice to Parliament. “If you vote for the Republic, everything you’re voting for this year goes out the window,” she said. “If you sign a treaty, it will last as long as we want it to.”
On the ABC show Q&A, the Greens MP delivered a passionate speech, saying that the Voice proposal on constitutional recognition would just be words and no action. She said, “A treaty can give us Senate seats with real power, not just advisory.”
She expressed frustration with continually asking the government for help, saying, “We’re tired of asking the government for money, and we’re tired of standing there like poor people and asking, ‘Can you give us some money? Can we count on you?’ We’ve had enough of it.”
However, Aboriginal elder and Professor Tom Calma interjected, “A lot of people aren’t doing that,” and Senator Thorpe continued. She stressed the importance of Indigenous knowledge in addressing the climate crisis and stated, “This country needs Indigenous knowledge, and the only way to get it in a meaningful way is through a treaty.”
She also highlighted the need for the government to follow the recommendations of past reports, such as the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, the Bringing Them Home report, and the Closing the Gap Report, which are all over 20 years old. She concluded by questioning the safety of the Voice in the Constitution, stating, “The last time something in the Constitution was changed to help the government, it was the Race Discrimination Act. If our racial discrimination laws can be changed so the government can be racist, how safe is the Voice in the Constitution?”
“Where do they mess up? Prisons and taking children.”
During the show, Senator Thorpe was asked if she would vote in favor of constitutional recognition.
ABC host Stan Grant asked, “If you were standing there on that day, which way would you vote? Yes or no?”
Senator Thorpe replied, “It depends on how many lives we can save by putting the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody into action. If all states and territories can agree on a Voice, why can’t they raise the age of legal responsibility to get our kids out of prisons?”
She continued, “I won’t say my vote until I see Labor take action and write our sovereignty and laws reflecting it into the Australian Constitution. I want to see action, not just talk.”
Senator Thorpe emphasized, “We are the sickest and poorest, and people are dying every day. An advisory body won’t change that.”
During the show, Senator Thorpe and Malarndirri McCarthy, the Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, had a heated exchange.
However, Paul Towney in the crowd agreed with Senator Thorpe, saying, “Closing the Gap is getting worse.”
The Greens will come up with an official stance on the referendum during a two-day party room meeting on Wednesday and Thursday. Most MPs are likely to support the Indigenous Voice in Parliament referendum, but they won’t prevent Senator Thorpe from opposing it.
It’s unclear if Senator Thorpe can still be the party’s indigenous spokesperson if she differs from the party’s position on the referendum.***