Thorpe: Boyfriend – bad. Rabble-rousing – okay!
20 October 2022
Today, diminutive Greens leader Adam Bandt finally acted against firebrand Victorian senator, Lidia Thorpe.
Bandt punted Thorpe from the co-deputy leadership of her parliamentary party because she failed to disclose a relationship with a former bikie gang leader while sitting on a parliamentary committee covering law and justice.
Rightly so. Thorpe kept quiet about a conflict of interest that compromised her participation in that committee’s important work. That Thorpe is someone who seems utterly incapable of working as a member of any team, let alone a parliamentary committee, doesn’t seem to have trouble Bandt.
So, Thorpe having a relationship with a bikie is a resignation offence. Given the bikie’s name was Dean Martin (really), Bandt reluctantly decided that ‘everybody loves somebody, sometime’, was no excuse. Fair enough.
But where was Bandt when Thorpe:
- Serially stoked the flames of racial division and resentment in her day job as a professional Aboriginal activist and rabble-rouser in demonstration after demonstration, including during the Queen’s mourning period?
- Insulted the Queen – a revered elder of the whole Australian people in life and in death – and, in her mocking her own swearing-in, effectively spat on the honour of being seated as a senator of the Australian parliament while pocketing her very generous taxpayer-funded senator’s salary?
- Reportedly insulted an Aboriginal elder, a senior woman, who had come to Canberra to meet her in her parliamentary office?
Thorpe has hidden too long behind her race and gender, playing the victim and dismissing criticisms of her appalling public behaviour as racism and sexism. But her serial offences against the dignity of her public office, her repeated insults to the goodwill of the wider Australian people to their Aboriginal brethren, are too numerous to mention and yet, as far as Greens leader Bandt went, effectively were condoned by his silence and inaction.
Yet, like Al Capone, Thorpe was only removed from the deputy leadership on a technicality, not because her general behaviour systematically demeaned the public and party offices she held.
In failing to act against Senator Thorpe until today, Bandt has shown he is not only deficient in physical stature. He is deficient in good leadership and political judgment. He is very much deficient as a leading custodian of the parliamentary institution to which he has been elected six times.
Today, Bandt has flogged Thorpe with a wet lettuce. Retaining her role as the Greens’ Aboriginal affairs spokeswoman, she still has her leader’s and party’s licence to behave disgracefully. But if he truly cared about the dignity of the Parliament, the propriety of its processes, and the standing of his party in middle Australia, Bandt instead should be telling Lidia Thorpe to resign her Senate seat for the good of her party, and the nation. Now.
He won’t, of course.
Terry Barnes writes the Spectator Australia’s Morning Double Shot newsletter