Politics

“I’m Not Going Away”: Indigenous MP Lidia Thorpe Responds To Australia Day Death Threats

"I taught my daughters to stand up to bullies. And that's what I'm doing today."

Victorian Greens MP Lidia Thorpe has a message for anyone hoping to silence her with violent threats.

The first Indigenous woman to be elected to Victorian parliament, Thorpe made headlines this week after she called for Australian flags to be flown at half-mast on January 26. She subsequently received a number of graphic death and rape threats, including a note slid under the door of her electorate office in Northcote that said that all black people should be killed.

But rather than be intimidated, Thorpe has stood firm, and on Saturday morning took to social media to respond.

“It’s been a tough few days for me, my staff and my family,” Thorpe wrote in a message on Facebook and Twitter. “To personally receive these threats has shaken every one of us. But I will not live in fear. All too often threats of violence are used as a way to silence women in public life.”

“I taught my daughters to stand up to bullies. And that’s what I’m doing today. Because I believe I have something to say that matters.”

“I know that we are better than this,” Thorpe wrote. “I know that we are mature enough as a nation to confront our past while walking towards a shared future.”

“I’m sorry to disappoint those who seek to shut me up, but I’m not going away,” she concluded. “We need healing not hate. Whatever comes my way, that’s what I’ll continue to work towards.”

The date of Australia Day has been a point of contention in recent times. On Monday federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale announced that changing the date of the national holiday was one of the party’s top priorities. Meanwhile, a number of local councils recently voted to cancel or scale back their Australia Day festivities out of respect for Indigenous Australians.

Despite the growing push to change the date, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull continues to insist that January 26 is a day that “unites Australia” (FYI Malcolm, recent polling shows that a majority of Australians don’t actually care when the holiday is held).

Thorpe, for her part, has said that January 26 remains “a day of mourning and deep pain for Australia’s First Nations people”, and that lowering the flag would be “an important first step towards truth-telling and healing”.

Feature image via Lidia Thorpe/Facebook