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Independent senator wants Voice referendum called off

Senator Lidia Thorpe says she'll be happy to retire and give way for younger politicians to emerge.

Senator Lidia Thorpe says she'll be happy to retire and give way for younger politicians to emerge. Photo: AAP

Independent senator Lidia Thorpe wants the Voice referendum to be called off, saying both a ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ result would be a “racist” outcome.

In a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday, Senator Thorpe outlined her alternative to the Voice proposal which she said was an “insult” to Indigenous people’s intelligence.

Senator Thorpe said a ‘No’ outcome would prove that Australia was a “racist country”.

But a ‘Yes’ outcome would also be racist because it was pushed by “do-gooders” who thought they knew what was best for Indigenous Australians.

Senator Thorpe said Australians must be willing to face hard truths about the nation’s history instead of supporting a “romanticised” notion of sovereignty.

The former Greens senator said the referendum had already caused harm and division and the proposed Voice would be a “powerless” advisory body.

“We are merely pointing out that there is no progress, that there is false hope and that we deserve better,” she said.

“This is why we should call off the referendum … there won’t be change until this society changes, until this society’s thinking, values, attitudes and systems have been revolutionised in order to ensure real self-determination.”

Senator Thorpe said actions to end the legacy of colonialism in Australia would include truth-telling, treaty and implementing recommendations of the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, the Bringing them Home report and the United Nations declaration on the rights of Indigenous people.

“We’re not going to get consensus with the voice, ever … we have to go back to how we make decisions as clans and nations and then we can tell the colonisers what the terms are, not the other way around,” she said.

“We have to reset the relationship in this country and stop seeing (Indigenous people) as an issue.”

Senator Thorpe quit the Greens due to her opposition to the voice, but has confirmed she will not actively campaign for a ‘no’ vote ahead of the referendum.

She said she was still open to negotiations with the government that could secure her support for the ‘yes’ campaign.

Regardless of the referendum outcome, Senator Thorpe would continue to advocate for a treaty and Indigenous sovereignty.

“I don’t think a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ result is going to make any difference regardless of what it is,” she said.

‘If it’s ‘no’, well, we know that the country is racist … even with a ‘yes’ vote, it’s still a denial of what the Blak Sovereign Movement is about and it’s hand-on-heart do-gooders who think they know what’s best for us.

“That’s a form of racism as well.”

Senator Thorpe acknowledged a treaty would take time but the process needed to start to achieve peace.

“The people decide who the politicians are, if the people want a treaty, then they need to make that happen themselves and get rid of those that don’t want that,” she said.

She also said compensation for Indigenous land and resources would “send the country broke” and that was why treaty negotiations were needed.

“We don’t want to send the country broke, I’ll put that out there now, otherwise we could with what is owed,” she said.

Topics: Lidia Thorpe
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