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Ex-Greens Indigenous senator Lidia Thorpe scolds ABC host in fiery debate

Patricia Karvelas has copped a spray from Lidia Thorpe in a heated on-air spat.

A former Greens turned Independent senator has sparked an on-air showdown after accusing an ABC host of pitting “black women against one another".

Lidia Thorpe was being grilled on Radio National on Thursday morning over the Indigenous Voice to Parliament vote when tensions spilled over with presenter Patricia Karvelas.

At a point in which both women were speaking over the top of each other, Senator Thorpe hit out at a controversial tweet the ABC host had posted on election night, praising the incoming Indigenous Affairs Minister.

“You’re out there saying ‘Burney’s a legend’ so we know where your allegiances lie,” she said. “I don’t hear you calling me a legend.”

Senator Lidia Thorpe.
Senator Lidia Thorpe left the Greens in February over the Indigenous Voice to Parliament. Source: AAP

ABC snaps back during fiery spat

Ms Karvelas faced heat in the wake of her post from May 2022 when she shared a photo of herself with Labor MP Linda Burney.

“This woman is a legend and looks like she will be the next Indigenous Affairs Minister,” the ABC presenter wrote on Twitter.

The ABC was called in to answer questions over whether the post breached the broadcasting corporation’s personal use of social media code. While the ABC’s Managing Director David Anderson denied there was any political bias in the tweet during a Senate Estimates hearing, it was revealed the ABC had cautioned Ms Karvelas over the remark.

Patricia Karvelas caused controversry in May 2022 when she sent this tweet praising Labor MP Linda Burney. Source: Twitter/Patricia Karvelas
Patricia Karvelas caused controversry in May, 2022 when she sent this tweet praising Labor MP Linda Burney. Source: Twitter/Patricia Karvelas

Today Senator Thorpe reignited the debate with her fiery on-air clash but Ms Karvelas was quick to hit back.

“You've mentioned a few times this word ‘legend’ which is a play on me,” she said. “I get it, that's fine, but I do have a question about that. Given Linda Burney was the first Aboriginal woman to enter the NSW Parliament and the first Aboriginal woman to enter the lower house in the federal parliament, does that not make her a legend? I mean it is pretty extraordinary.”

But her sparring partner was not backing down.

“Absolutely,” she said, “[but] I don't hear you calling me a legend. I hear that your tone is very different when you interview me and that's got to change. That’s the media lens on a legend black woman who I absolutely agree with but you’ve got to stop setting black women up against one another.”

Senator slams the Voice as ‘powerless’

The Prime Minister will on Thursday night launch his Yes campaign for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, which will give Indigenous communities a route to help inform policy and legal decisions that impact their lies.

But Senator Thorpe argues the Voice doesn’t go far enough in advancing Aboriginal power and is now working from the crossbench as an independent for a ‘Black sovereign movement’.

“We deserve better than a powerless Voice,” she told ABC listeners. “We need a treaty. We want real power. We want real justice in this country.”

A referendum on the issue is due to be held sometime between October and December.

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