Victorian Greens senator Lidia Thorpe has resigned from the Greens to sit on the Senate crossbench, citing constraints within the party and a desire to amplify First Nations voices.
The Gunnai, Gunditjmara, and Djab Wurrung senator made the announcement on Monday, on the first parliamentary sitting of the new year.
Speaking in Canberra, the senator said “this country has a strong grassroots Blak Sovereign Movement, full of staunch and committed warriors and I want to represent that movement fully in Parliament.”
“It has become clear to me that I can’t do that from within the Greens. Now I will be able to speak freely on all issues from a Sovereign perspective without being constrained by portfolios and agreed party positions,” Thorpe said.
Lidia Thorpe thanked Greens leader Adam Bandt and Deputy Leader Mehreen Faruqi for their strong allyship and support in pushing the Government on Truth and Treaty, but said support for the Voice, which a number Greens MPs, members and supporters have backed, is at odds with the message of the Black Sovereign Movement.
“This is at odds with the community of activists who are saying Treaty before Voice, this is the message delivered on the streets on Jan 26. This is the movement I was raised in – my Elders marched for Treaty.”
“This is who I am,” Thorpe said.
Following her public resignation, Greens leader Adam Bandt said Senator Thorpe has made a phenomenal contribution to the Greens and I’m truly sorry to see her leave our party room.
“I’m sad to see her go, as I respect her greatly as a fighter for her people.
“I tried hard to get her to stay with the Greens as our First Nations spokesperson, but she has chosen another course to advance the Blak Sovereignty movement.
“Senator Thorpe has drawn attention to human rights abuses at Don Dale, fought the deportation of First Nations people, fearlessly challenged the colonial relics of parliamentary process and fiercely pursued Treaty.
“The Greens will continue to work closely with Senator Thorpe on a range of issues and I thank her for committing to vote with the Greens on climate,” Bandt said.
Senator Thorpe would not reveal her final position on the Voice to Parliament saying she wants to continue negotiations with the Government.
“First Nations Sovereignty is crucial but so is saving lives today. They could do that by implementing the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the recommendations from the Bringing Them Home report,” Thorpe said.
“My focus from now is to grow and amplify the Blak Sovereign Movement across the Nation. I have spent my entire life fighting for justice, to defend our Sovereignty, to save Blak lives.
“That is my goal.”