Lidia Thorpe is set to become the new Greens senator for Victoria, replacing outgoing former Greens leader Richard Di Natale.
Thorpe, a Gunnai-Kurnai/Gunditjmara woman, is an Aboriginal leader and activist and is the former member for Northcote in the Victorian parliament. She was previously the first Aboriginal woman to sit in the Victorian parliament.
Thorpe was elected by the Greens in a state-wide ballot of its members, securing 58 per cent of the two-party preferred vote, ahead of human rights barrister Julian Burnside.
On Saturday, Thorpe said she would use her position in the Senate to advocate for a treaty for Indigenous Australians and action on climate change.
“We need a Treaty that needs to be internationally scrutinised under the Geneva Convention of treaties so not just a bureaucratic treaty, a real treaty that will end the injustice that Aboriginal people in this country face,” she said.
“The Green New Deal is what everyone needs to know about, it can be part of the treaty process, it’s about addressing the inequality that his country has with so many people and so many communities … and we need to address the climate catastrophe that we’re all facing.”
Thorpe said she comes from the “hard knocks”, having left school at age 14 and survived family violence and abuse.
“This is a message to all those battlers out there and all those women who experienced family violence that we have a voice,” she said.
“It’s so important for kids growing up today in places I grew up to know they can do what I have done. Kids in the Commission flats, or out in country towns, or single mums, or survivors of domestic abuse – this isn’t out of your reach,” she said.
“I’m ready to fight for the issues we all believe in, climate, injustice, inequality. Now more than ever, we need to not accept the old ways. This is our chance to build back better, and I’m ready to bring us together to get it done,” she added.
This is such exciting news! I’m so looking forward to @lidia__thorpe joining us as the next @Greens Senator for Victoria. Lidia’s a lifelong fighter for justice, who will be an incredible part of our Greens team. pic.twitter.com/NgOfhKwKjo— Mehreen Faruqi (@MehreenFaruqi) June 20, 2020
Greens leader Adam Bandt said Thrope is “exactly what politics in Australia needs at the moment.”
“I’ve worked with Lidia for many, many years and seen her get things done and give a voice to the people that politics is leaving behind,” he said.
“From being the first Aboriginal woman elected to Victorian parliament, to winning renters rights, forestry protections and LGBTIQ support, Lidia has an incredible track record of fighting for change.”
With Thorpe in the Senate, there will be a total of five Aboriginal and Torres Islander politicians in federal parliament. Ken Wyatt, Linda Burney, Pat Dodson and Malarndirri McCarthy make up the other four.