Lidia Thorpe explodes at Hollie Hughes on Senate floor: 'That's racism'

The independent senator was quick to respond to Hollie Hughes muttering under her breath.

·2-min read

Senator Lidia Thorpe has accused fellow politician Hollie Hughes of being a "racist" after she interrupted her acknowledgment of country in parliament on Tuesday.

The pair were discussing a climate change bill when the independent senator overheard Hughes questioning under her breath "how many times has that happened today" as Thorpe paid her respects.

Lidia Thorpe on the left, wearing a red dress and white blazer, looks dissatisfied as well as Hollie Hughes on the right, wearing a navy shirt.
Senator Lidia Thorpe accused Hollies Hughes of being 'racist' after interrupting her acknowledgment of country during a debate in parliament on Tuesday. Source: Twitter & AAP

The comment was too faint to be heard on cameras recording the debate, however, it was loud enough to be picked up on the official manuscript, and was also clocked by Thorpe who stopped mid-sentence and quickly called out the Liberal senator.

With a sweeping hand gesture, Thorpe — the first indigenous woman elected into the Victorian Parliament — asked, "Is that racism?". After a pause, she addressed the Acting Deputy President. "Can I just call out racism in this chamber right now, please?".

Hughes quickly lashed back and asked for a 'point of order' to be called, insinuating that Thorpe's comment did not adhere to the correct behaviour expected in the Senate, asking her to withdraw her comment. Thorpe refused and doubled down on her belief that Hughes was in the wrong.

"I will not withdraw until you understand that I have just been racially vilified while I'm reading my speech," she said. With the disagreement unresolved, it was agreed that the transcript would be reviewed by several authoritative figures so the debate could continue, with Hughes sharing her final opinion on the matter.

"I would just like to make the point that the constant reference to Australians who were born here from a different heritage being referred to as colonisers is not helpful in any way," she said.

Police review into Senator Thorpe's treatment at protest

This is the second time this week Thorpe has boldly shared her beliefs and made headlines. On Thursday she confronted anti-transgender rights activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker, outside Parliament House.

Lidia Thorpe can be seen wearing a First Nations shirt and flag as she was pushed onto the ground by police at a protest.
Federal police are reviewing their treatment of Lidia Thorpe after she was pushed to the ground when she attempted to confront an anti-transgender rights protester. Source: AAP

Video footage showed Senator Thorpe being grabbed by police and physically held to the ground as she interrupted Parker's speech, with her forceful treatment by police now being reviewed.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney described the incident as "disturbing and concerning" during an interview on ABC Radio. "My concern was for, is for, Lidia… I think the fact that it has been referred to the professional standards unit is absolutely appropriate," she said.

With AAP

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