Australia’s version of the Daily Mail, which is every bit as reactionary as its counterpart in Britain, has published a typically over the top report attacking the Australian Greens’ politician Lidia Thorpe. The reason for its outrage? The decision by the Aboriginal campaigner to take up her seat in Australia’s federal upper legislature.
An incoming senator who doesn’t identify as Australian has been slammed for backtracking and declaring she will swear allegiance to the Queen to collect a $211,250 salary.
Lidia Thorpe, who lost her seat at the [regional] 2018 Victorian election after only a year as a state MP, has been chosen by the Greens party faithful to replace former leader Richard Di Natale in federal Parliament in August.
She defeated prominent Queen’s counsel barrister Julian Burnside in a ballot of Greens members to fill a casual vacancy to be a senator for Victoria…
Ms Thorpe has hit back at her critics accusing her of hypocrisy, pointing out white politicians who favoured a republic over a constitutional monarchy, like former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, weren’t unfairly labelled as hypocrites when they swore allegiance to the Queen.
‘I don’t identify as being Australian. It’s a concept that’s been imposed on our people since we’re invaded,’ she told the Almost Australian documentary, which aired last month on the ABC.
‘I swore allegiance to the Queen when I became MP for Northcote, and I’ll do it again in Canberra in August,’ she said.
Michael Atkinson, a former Labor attorney-general of South Australia, suggested she follow the example of UK MPs from Northern Ireland who refuse to swear allegiance to the Queen because they are from the Irish Republican political party Sinn Fein, denying them the chance to vote in the House of Commons.
‘A principled way forward for new Victorian Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe is to refuse, like Sinn Fein, to take the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty and abstain from the Chamber,’ he tweeted.
Former Liberal powerbroker Michael Kroger suggested swearing an oath of allegiance to the Queen, after declaring she didn’t identify as an Australian, would make Thorpe a hypocrite.
‘The Greens say that they’re true to their principles, this is the thing the Greens are founded on, this freakish, nutty sort of caveman and woman view of the world,’ he told Sky News…
As is clear from even the short extracts above, the repetitive article is filled with the sort of dog whistle prejudice that is such a feature of Australian society when it comes to its indigenous peoples. And using terms like “caveman and woman” in a comment on a Greens’ representative of Aboriginal ancestry is tone deaf to say the least. But as the independent journalist publication Crikey points out, these attacks seems to be part of a coordinated media campaign against Thorpe.
…last week, The Herald Sun reported that new Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe had said a new name could be considered for Victoria:
‘Anything that’s named after someone who’s caused harm or murdered people, then I think we should take their name down,’ she said.
Except, as Thorpe pointed out, this was not some bold platform she was using to convince freedom-hating greenies in the leftie people’s feelocracy of Victoria to elect her as Richard Di Natale’s replacement.
She’d simply been called by Herald Sun reporters and asked her opinion.
Nevertheless, the article, grounded in Thorpe’s apparent suggestion, allowed the state Labor and Liberal leaders to caterwaul about how they’d never heard such a stupid idea.
Of course, none of this will be unfamiliar to anyone who has read our ongoing “Holy War” series. Once News Corp spots an ideological enemy, there is no development, no angle on them, that will be left unexplored. And as this example shows, it billows out into the rest of the media, until it passes for an actual national discourse.
Thorpe is an Indigenous woman from Victoria representing the Greens, a combination of words that News Corp editors wake up screaming after their worst sleep paralysis. So don’t expect this to be the last of it.
The political situation in Australia is very different from that in Britain’s legacy colony on this island and the Australian Greens are not Sinn Féin or even the SDLP. Furthermore, not only did Lidia Thorpe swear a legally required oath of fealty to the British head of state when she entered the regional Victorian Legislative Assembly in 2017, she is legally obliged to do the same again to enter the federal Senate in Canberra. One suspects that this press-generated furore has very little to do with the politics of the Gunnai-Gunditjmara activist and everything to do with her identity.