The Greens have today announced that Indigenous activist Lidia Thorpe will replace former leader Richard Di Natale in the Australian Senate.
Ms Thorpe, 47, was locked in as the person to fill the retiring former party leader’s vacant seat following a ballot of Victorian members.
“Please join us in congratulating Lidia, a powerful voice for all of us,” the Greens tweeted this morning.
Ms Thorpe, a Gunnai-Kurnai & Gunditjmara woman, brings the number of Indigenous politicians federally to five.
“Parliament is due for a shake up, and Lidia’s fearless advocacy for economic and social justice will strengthen the case for a Green New Deal and provide a voice for so many people that have been let down by politics,” Greens leader Adam Bandt said in a statement.
Ms Thorpe was Victoria’s very first Indigenous MP following her election to the seat of Northcote in 2017.
This week, she made headlines after calling for Victoria to be renamed due to its links with the country’s colonial past.
Victoria is named after Queen Victoria, who ruled the British Empire until 1901.
Speaking to news.com.au, Ms Thorpe said she had a “shopping list” of items she wants to negotiate as part of treaty talks – and renaming places should be on the table.
“Given we’re all talking about the colonial past and how everything’s named as a result of invasion of this country, why wouldn’t we negotiate that?” she said.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews described the idea of a name change as “ridiculous”.
Ms Thorpe added: “It may be that it stays the same. But why wouldn’t we put that on the table. Maybe we need to be making decisions, changing place names, state names and anything else that causes harm.”
She said Queensland could do the same, saying: “Maybe that’s something they could negotiate.”
Australia is the only Commonwealth country in the world that doesn’t have a treaty with its first people.
“Treaty is not just for black fellas,” she told news.com.au. “This is an opportunity for this country to grow up and mature as a nation. And acknowledge and recognise the true history.
“That’s when we come together. It’s not about black or white. It’s about the good, bad and ugly or our history.
“I see a treaty as a way that we can make peace with one another. We don’t live in peace. We don’t have the same opportunities. I’d like to see the end to the injustice that occurs against Aboriginal people, I’d like to see our environment protected like we used to protect it.”
Mr Bandt said he was “thrilled” to have the chance to work with Ms Thorpe on the party’s agenda in Parliament.
“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,” he said.