Lidia Thorpe’s treatment at anti-trans rally ‘disturbing and concerning’, Linda Burney says
The minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, says an incident in which senator Lidia Thorpe was knocked to the ground, apparently by an Australian federal police officer, while protesting against an anti-trans rights rally was “disturbing and concerning”.
On Thursday Thorpe was pulled to the ground after she rushed towards a lectern at which anti-trans activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull was addressing a small crowd of supporters outside Australian Parliament House in Canberra.
In comments to Guardian Australia, Thorpe complained about her treatment by the Australian federal police, alleging that it constituted assault.
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A spokesperson for Thorpe later clarified that the incident involved both private security officers and the AFP.
On Friday Burney said “I’ve seen the footage, and it’s disturbing and concerning”.
“The incident has been reported to the AFP professional standards unit and they will make a determination about that,” she told ABC Radio.
“My concern was for, is for, Lidia. I hope she’s getting the support she should get. I think the fact that it has been referred to the professional standards unit is absolutely appropriate.”
Asked if a white male senator could have been treated differently, Burney replied “I have no idea”, adding “the real issue is to make sure her wellbeing, her welfare is OK.”
On Thursday the AFP issued a statement saying it was “aware of a matter relating to protests near Australian Parliament House today”.
“The interactions between the AFP and protesters will be reviewed, and an incident has been referred to the AFP’s professional standards command,” it said.
“Given a matter is now under investigation, no further comments will be made.”
The rally organised by Keen-Minshull, who is also known as Posie Parker, was attended by about 30 supporters including One Nation’s Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts and the United Australia party’s Ralph Babet.
None of the Coalition parliamentarians who have defended Victorian Liberal MP Moira Deeming – who faces expulsion for her attendance at Keen-Minshull’s Melbourne rally – attended in Canberra.
Deeming has denied any wrongdoing and condemned the attendance of neo-Nazis at that rally, calling them gatecrashers.
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Liberal senator Claire Chandler posted to Facebook that she had intended to attend the Let Women Speak event in Canberra “to draw attention to what these women are saying” but had decided against it.
Chandler cited the fact that she hadn’t seen “a single word of a speech” at the last two rallies reported by Australian media.
Instead “the entire focus [was] consumed by those there to disrupt” or “to hijack the event and the media attention for their own abhorrent purposes”, she said, an apparent reference to those at the Melbourne rally who gave the Nazi salute.
“There is no assurance that it is even going to be safe for women to attend Thursday’s event.”