Greens leader Adam Bandt said on Tuesday he was “sad” that Thorpe had quit the party but some party members acknowledged the danger of branch members resigning if they agreed with her strong objections to the Indigenous Voice to parliament.
James Conlan, a Greens councillor in Merri-bek in Melbourne’s North, resigned from the party on Tuesday and issued a statement that expressed solidarity with Thorpe and called out what he said was structural racism in the Greens.
While this masthead said on Tuesday that former Greens leader Richard Di Natale had backed Thorpe in the contest to replace him when he quit parliament in 2020, several sources rejected this.
“I don’t think Di Natale campaigned for her or expressed a view about her in any way at all,” said Burnside. Other Greens, speaking on condition they not be named, also said the former leader had not given her any endorsement before the preselection outcome.
Burnside criticised Thorpe for breaking with the party on the Indigenous Voice to parliament when the party had chosen to back the change at a referendum this year.
“She seems not to accept what is being said about the Voice. What is it about the Voice that is of concern? It seems to me that she should support whatever the Greens’ position on the Voice is, but she’s departed from that.”
Thorpe rejected the idea she had “dudded” voters and did not deserve to keep her seat by pointing to her support from black activists who called for a treaty during the January 26 protest marches.
“I say that, as a black woman in the political arena, that people need to check themselves,” she said in an ABC interview on Tuesday.
“If you’re a true ally, and you believe in Aboriginal people having a say in this country, then stop demonising me for the decisions that I’m making, based on a grassroots collective of sovereign black people.
“I would say look at January 26, maybe rewind the news to January 26, it seems to be forgotten that tens of thousands of people came out for treaty before Voice, but also sovereignty before Voice.”
That claim is disputed by others who believe the marchers were expressing support for Indigenous Australians while holding a range of views on the Voice, with some supporting and some against.
Uluru Dialogue co-chair Pat Anderson said on January 26 that only a “noisy few” critics were opposing the change to the Constitution when it had majority support among First Nations people.
Former Greens leader Christine Milne said she would not comment on Thorpe, but she supported Bandt’s statement that the senator could have stayed in the party and exercised a conscience vote on the Voice.
Another candidate in the 2020 preselection, David Risstrom, said the process was fair and the party members should accept it. He said party leaders did not have undue influence because party members chose the outcome.
“The vote was of all members with equal weight,” he said. “It was a vote of members, conducted properly, and we respect that.”
Some Greens members expressed support for Thorpe and said politics sometimes resulted in people leaving parties to serve in parliament as independents.
One party member said the Victorian rules stipulated that the party’s elected politicians should not campaign for candidates at preselections, so leaders such as Bandt and Di Natale did not endorse Thorpe. He said the party membership clearly backed her in a fair preselection because they were excited by her radical message.
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