Lidia Thorpe’s a non-conformist within a conforming institution

October 24, 2022

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Senator Lidia Thorpe’s recent ‘indiscretions‘ have been used by the media and political class in a baseless attempt to discredit her.

These attacks against Senator Thorpe, a DjabWurrung, Gunnai and Gunditjmara woman who’s unashamedly outspoken on First Nations sovereignty and stands consistently with activists on the front line fighting for refugee rights and climate justice, are undoubtedly politically motivated.

The Labor Party have the taste of blood in their mouths because Thorpe isn’t the obedient lapdog that the party can control. In any case, it’s not unlike the ALP to snuff out grassroots movements under their control when they’ve served their political purpose. Nevertheless, it’s still frankly pathetic that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is considering supporting a censure motion against Thorpe when the party he leads couldn’t even support a censure motion naming Pauline Hanson for her racist attacks against Mehreen Faruqi.

Conservative and reactionary politicians and media pundits (which, let’s be honest, the ALP provides cover for) have and always will have it in for Thorpe. That’s to be expected and I doubt these types would have any barring on Thorpe’s continuing advocacy.

Some sections of the Greens also undoubtedly have it in for Thorpe, with many in the party being more conservative in practice than they think they are. Some have accused her of bullying (oh, where have we seen this thrown around before?). It wouldn’t surprise me if the same forces trying to push anti-transgender views within the party are some of the same forces now trying to discredit Thorpe’s position, from within the party, as a Greens Senator.

As an example, it’s likely a significant proportion of the Greens membership supports an uncritical ‘yes’ vote on the voice referendum – and they see Thorpe’s position, which is more explicitly in favour of truth and treaty before voice, as undermining the Greens position on the issue.

Nonetheless, it’s pleasing to see Greens parliamentary leader Adam Bandt issue a statement in support of Thorpe. Granted, it should’ve come earlier, but at least it’s there.

Those who argue that Thorpe is a ‘drag’ on the Greens vote are living in a fantasy, considering that she led the Greens Senate ticket in Victoria to the party’s highest vote since 2010 at the last Federal Election.

When we look at these attacks against Thorpe, it’s important to note that they’re not because of a conflict of interest stemming from a short term relationship (read: a fling) with an ex-bikie (who, it must be noted, has no criminal convictions) or because she “yelled” at (or moreso, engaged in a robust discussion with) an Aboriginal Elder during a meeting at Parliament House.

It’s because she is a non-conformist in an institution that demands conformation.

It’s also important to note that Thorpe’s so-called indiscretions mean absolutely nothing to anyone who don’t constantly have their heads in the Canberra bubble – in other words, except for political and partisan hacks.

As Indigenous activist Gary Foley says: “I think she’s doing all the things that her constituency – and when I say her constituency, I’m not talking about the Greens, I’m talking about the Aboriginal people of Victoria – she’s doing what they want her to do.”

I’d add that Thorpe is also doing what people fighting for refugee rights, climate justice, among a whole host of other righteous causes – want her to do. For these people, Thorpe consistently walking the talk and standing with them on the ground is what matters, not what some empty suit of a political hack says about her to them.

And let’s be frank: having a fling with an ex-bikie ranks pretty much down the bottom when we look at the dodgy dealings of politicians that don’t get nearly as much heat that Thorpe has within the last week.

Matt Hrkac

Matt Hrkac is an award-winning photographer and photojournalist based in Geelong and works across Melbourne and throughout Victoria.


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