An indigenous Australian senator called Britain’s Queen a coloniser on Monday, garnering instant criticism from fellow lawmakers while praise and support on social media. Lidia Thorpe, an indigenous Greens party senator for the Australian state of Victoria referred to Queen Elizabeth of England as “the colonising Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II” when she was taking oath to formally become a member of the parliament.
During her oath taking ceremony, with her right fist in the air representing a Black Power salute, Thorpe can be heard saying, “I, sovereign Lidia Thorpe, do solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will be faithful and I bear true allegiance to the colonizing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.” The senator was immediately interrupted by the Labor Senate president, Sue Lines.
Indigenous Australian senator Lidia Thorpe (from the Green party) referred to the Queen as a coloniser when she took her oath of office. pic.twitter.com/b3R5XVufx2
— Saul Staniforth (@SaulStaniforth) August 2, 2022
Several senators present in the parliament objected to what she said, with one saying, “You are not a senator if you don’t do it properly.” Then, Lines asked her to recite just what was printed on the cards. As one senator made comments on her again, Thorpe retorted by saying, “You’ve got to have some respect.”
She then again took the oath, without using the word “coloniser”, with a sarcastic stress on the words “sincerely” and “declare” with a grin on her face.
The senator later said on her Twitter handle, “Sovereignty never ceded.”
Australia was colonised in late 1700s by the British who legitimised their occupation by declaring that the land belonged to none. During its occupation, several indigenous aboriginal people, including children and women, were killed. The oppression of the indigenous population of the country led to socio-economic inequalities that the tribes continue to live with. Thorpe’s address was a reference to that dark colonial past.
Although, Australia got independence from the British rule in 1901, the formal head of the country remained the British Queen to whom every senator has to swear allegiance while taking oath to become a member of the Australian parliament.
The recently elected Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese has expressed his support for a referendum to do away with the provision of having the Queen as the country’s head. Although, he said to the CNN that his government’s priority during the term was the recognition of First Nations people in the Australian constitution.
People from the indigenous communities are referred as the First Nation people in Australia. Ahead of the recently concluded elections, Albanese had promised to amend the constitution to ensure representation of the indigenous people in policy making.
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