Indigenous senator Lidia Thorpe has lashed out at the Voice referendum after being sent a “disgusting” video shows an apparent neo-Nazi burning the Aboriginal flag and threatening her.
In the video, a man in a balaclava who claims to be from neo-Nazi group Warriors for Convict Resistance reads a statement from his phone endorsing “white Australia”.
He then makes racist statements about First Nations people before burning the flag and performing a Nazi salute.
The Australian Federal Police were made aware of the video on Tuesday when it was posted to X, formerly known as Twitter.
It has since been taken down and the account that posted it has been de-activated. The federal police are continuing to investigate.
On Thursday, Thorpe hit back, blaming the campaign on the Indigenous Voice referendum for increased abuse directed towards her.
“The referendum is an act of genocide against my people. And the Prime Minister knows exactly what he’s doing,” she said.
Thorpe – a former Greens senator from Victoria and a prominent campaigner for a No vote on the Voice – was surrounded by supporters while she made her statement.
She also accused Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the federal police of doing too little to protect her.
“His (Albanese’s) violent force that he has sent to protect me can’t even protect me, refuse to protect the black sovereign woman because the police are part of the problem in this country,” she said.
“You want to paint me as an angry black woman, well you are about to see an angry black woman.
“For months I wasn’t allowed to be in my own home, because people want to kill me out there,” she said.
In Brisbane, Albanese said Thorpe had contacted him directly about the video, and again urged respectful debate.
“I’ve seen the video that is referred to that is threatening towards Senator Thorpe and towards the government. And the sort of Nazi rhetoric that is in that video has no place in discourse in Australian political life,” he said.
“I responded to her at the first opportunity, on the same day. I spoke to the AFP. I don’t talk about what AFP support is being given, for obvious reasons. That would be quite counterproductive. But Senator Thorpe certainly responded to me that same day, by thanking me for responding to her.”
It is the second time the neo-Nazi group has targeted Thorpe. In February last year, they used a racial slur against she was sent a similar “violent and distressing video”.
Earlier on Thursday, senior Albanese government figures condemned the video, with cabinet minister Bill Shorten blasting it as “cowardly and disgusting”.
“I wish that bloke would take his hood off so people can see what kind of joker he is,” Shorten said.
“The guy can’t even remember his lines, he has to read it off a phone.”
Shorten said the man in the video was “gutless” and a “lame-brain”.
“I don’t know what it is with these man-baby Nazis,” he said.
“Wearing a hood so no one can see you. They think they’re so tough.”
Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil also hit out at the “disgusting” footage, and offered support for Thorpe, who is a Gunnai, Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung woman.
“I have plenty of political differences with Senator Lidia Thorpe but no one in our country deserves to be treated that way, but certainly not someone living in this country,” she said.
“That video is menacing, disgusting, and it is obviously deliberately targeting her to stop her from expressing her views.
“The Australian government will be doing everything we can to support Senator Lidia Thorpe through what must be an absolutely terrifying experience.”
The video is just one instance of a growing trend of threatening communications sent to politicians.
“Reports of harassment, nuisance, offensive and threatening communications against parliamentarians/electoral offices have increased in the past two years, including via social media,” an AFP spokesperson said.
“Threats of harm or violence against Australian high office holders are criminal offences and will be fully investigated by the AFP.”
Earlier this year, the federal government introduced laws to ban Nazi symbols.
With the referendum on the Indigenous voice to parliament to be held on October 14, politicians are growing increasingly concerned about extremists spreading racism and misinformation.
“I am really worried about it,” O’Neil said.
“We’re seeing over time in Australia different types of groups who pop up, selecting different ideologies … being radicalised and joining these communities online, working together and getting more violent in their radical activities.”
She expressed faith in Australia’s security agencies, saying they are “very, very, very good at what they do”.
“They watch these groups very closely and it is a big focus of our government to make sure we stay on top of these problems.”
– with AAP