Independent Victorian senator Lidia Thorpe says she will lodge a racism claim with the Australian Human Rights Commission against the Greens, in a further fallout with the party months after alleging she had been bullied by several of her former colleagues.
The Indigenous senator, who quit the Greens earlier this year, made the revelation on ABC TV’s program, saying she had received legal advice that she had sufficient grounds for pursuing a complaint with the commission against the party, but she declined to outline the basis of her allegation.
A spokesman for Thorpe declined to comment further on Sunday when asked to clarify whether the complaint concerned allegations of racism by Greens MPs or within the party more broadly.
A Greens spokeswoman said the party was “not aware of any proceedings against any of its MPs or the party”.
“The Greens are committed to stamping out racism wherever it occurs, in workplaces everywhere and in institutions like parliament,” the spokeswoman said.
It is the latest in a series of allegations the Victorian senator has made about her treatment while a Greens member, after saying in March she quit the party due to bullying by a “few senators within the Greens”.
She declined to name the senators but said she had submitted a formal written complaint to Greens leader Adam Bandt and the Parliamentary Workplace Support Service in the second half of 2022. The Greens rejected the bullying claim at the time and said Thorpe left the party before mediation could occur.
Thorpe raised the latest forthcoming complaint on Sunday after she was asked by host David Speers to elaborate on claims she made in Senate estimates last week, when she accused former colleague Sarah Hanson-Young of failing to stand up for her against racism within the party. She made the claim as the Greens senator questioned ABC managing director David Anderson over host Stan Grant’s exit from over racial abuse, saying: “Why didn’t you stand up for racism in the party, against me?”
On Sunday, Thorpe declined to clarify the nature of her complaint, citing legal advice.
“I can’t comment on that because I have been advised by my lawyers that it does need to be sent to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. There is enough grounds for a case, and I’ll have to leave it there,” Thorpe said.
Pressed on whether the complaint concerned her former party colleagues, Thorpe said: “I’ll leave that up to my lawyers and the Human Rights Commission.
“That’s a conversation I need to have with them. I don’t want to say any further. But, yes, I’ve experienced racism all my life in every workplace, and the Greens were no different.”
Thorpe said her aim with the case was to see institutional racism stamped out, and cited recent allegations of racism within the ABC.
“It’s the foundation of these institutions that are racist, that allow racism to occur. I think we all need to look at ourselves within and eradicate that and make our workplaces safer.”
At the estimates hearing, Hanson-Young rejected Thorpe’s accusations.
Thorpe was herself accused of verbally abusing an Indigenous elder in a private 2021 meeting, with her former chief of staff describing her behaviour as among the most unprofessional conduct he has ever witnessed. She disputed the claims at the time, saying the meeting involved a “robust discussion”.
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