Australian senator told to repeat oath after she labels Queen 'a coloniser'

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Lidia Thorpe - AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Lidia Thorpe - AAP Image/Lukas Coch

An Australian senator pledged allegiance to the “colonialist Queen” during a swearing-in ceremony before colleagues forced her to retake the oath.

Green Party senator Lidia Thorpe, who is an indigenous member of Australia’s Upper House, raised a clenched fist while reciting the oath incorrectly.

Reading from a printed card she said, “I sovereign, Lidia Thorpe, do solemnly and sincerely swear that I will be faithful and I bear true allegiance to the colonising her majesty the Queen.”

The stunt caused consternation among some of her colleagues in the house and senate president, Sue Lines demanded that she recite the oath as printed.

One senator told her, “You can’t be a senator if you don’t do it properly.”

Ms Thorpe subsequently re-took the oath, reading it correctly.

She later tweeted a photograph of her raised fist in the air, writing, “Sovereignty never ceded.”

Lidia Thorpe - AAP/Lukas Coch
Lidia Thorpe - AAP/Lukas Coch

Under Australia’s constitution all parliamentarians must swear allegiance to the monarch.

The leader of the Green party, Adam Bandt, doubled down on his colleague’s remarks saying the Queen “always was, always will be,” a coloniser.

Last week, an assistant minister for the republic from the incumbent Labor party said swearing allegiance to the Queen was “archaic and ridiculous.”

Matt Thistlethwaite said in an interview with Nine Newspapers, “It does not represent the Australia we live in and it’s further evidence of why we need to begin discussing becoming a republic with our own head of state.

“We are no longer British,” he added.

The oath taking ceremony was not the first time Ms Thorpe has sparked controversy, previously saying that the Australian flag represented “dispossession, massacre and genocide.”

Monday’s Senate outburst comes at a time of increasing support for Australia’s indigenous people to have a voice in parliament.

Over the weekend prime minister Anthony Albanese announced he was planning to hold a referendum on recognising First Nations people in the constitution and requiring consultation with them over issues and decisions which affect their lives.

Such a move would bring Australia in line with New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

Holding a referendum on indigenous rights will effectively delay moves to hold a referendum on Australia becoming a republic.

Mr Albanese’s creation of the “minister for the republic” position led some commentators to believe the likelihood of a referendum on whether to replace the Queen as head of state was increased,

Before he was elected, the Australian prime minister said it was “inevitable” that the Queen would be replaced as Australia’s head of state.

However, the government has made clear it is no longer committed to a vote on the issue in the next three years.

A referendum on the republic is not expected until after a public vote on giving Aboriginal Australians an institutional role in policymaking.

Recent polling suggested that republicans would enjoy a narrow majority of 54 per cent in the event of a referendum but that people are split over the best way to select a head of state.

Many Australians are divided over how to choose a suitable person to replace the Queen and are wary of politicians being involved in the selection process.

The Australian Republican Movement has proposed to give voters the final choice from a shortlist of candidates put forward by federal, state and territorial legislatures.

The federal parliament would propose three nominees while individual states and territories would nominate one each.