Lidia Thorpe blows up in the Senate as President takes the extraordinary step of

Lidia Thorpe accused the acting president of the Senate of being ‘asleep in the chair’ during a heated evening row – prompting her to be silenced in an extraordinary action. 

The firebrand indepemdent senator was waiting in the chamber at 8.30pm on Tuesday night to deliver a speech about her cousin, who died in police custody back in 2022.

But she lost her patience when Labor senator Louise Pratt, who was acting president at the time, granted a colleague a 10 minute window to speak – when Ms Thorpe was of the understanding they were only allowed five minutes.

The incident was clearly frustrating to other senators too. Liberal Senator Maria Kovacic noted she’d been waiting over an hour and 15 minutes for her chance to have her say.

Ms Thorpe began shouting over the top of the others in the room, arguing Ms Pratt had been ‘asleep in that chair’ and that the previous acting president had already locked in five-minute speaking windows.

‘I have a mother who lost a son to your system-‘ Ms Thorpe shouted.

‘Wake up. Wake up. How come all of us heard one thing and you heard something different?’

Ms Thorpe called on the Senate President, Sue Lines, to review Ms Pratt’s conduct and said she’d like to see her return to the chamber.

‘She should be in the seat dealing with this issue right now, because we are being done over by you.’ 

Moments later, Senator Lines returned to the chamber and, in a rare move, ordered that Ms Thorpe no longer be heard.

Unlike the House of Representatives, Senators cannot be removed from the chamber due to their conduct. They can, however, be ordered to be silent for a certain period of time.

Ms Thorpe hit back at the call, asking: ‘have you made that ruling? Are you telling me that I can’t be heard? Because I want to know. Is that right? Is that what’s happening?

‘I’m not going to leave this chamber, I will read now.’

As another senator continued her speech at the behest of Ms Lines, Ms Thorpe began to speak over the top of her, sharing her own statements regarding the death of Josh Kerr, who died in police custody in August 2022.

His mother, Donna, was reportedly listening to proceedings and was expecting the tragedy to be addressed. 

Amidst all the chaos, Minister Murray Watt rose to his feet and asked that the Senate be adjourned, ending the session.

Ms Thorpe has vowed to share her speech in full on Wednesday.

Hours earlier, she weighed in on the tragic deaths of Jessie Baird and Luke Davies, who were allegedly murdered by a serving police officer.

As a result, NSW Police have been disinvited from Mardi Gras, which is taking place this weekend.

Ms Thorpe said it was a welcome decision, and an outcome that has been hard fought from the black and queer community.

‘For decades, Queer and Black people have been brutalised and murdered by police, and this continues unchecked every day,’ she said.

‘There is a shocking lack of standards and accountability within police departments across this country. This means violent aggressors – many racist and homophobic – are given a badge, a gun and the permission to act with impunity against our communities.

‘Far too often we’ve seen cops get off with less than a slap on the wrist for discrimination, brutal acts of violence or even murder.

‘This is more than a few bad apples, this is a serious problem with police departments nationwide. And cops investigating cops will never begin to improve the systemic racism, homophobia and culture of impunity we see in policing.

‘We need strong independent oversight bodies in every state that can apply serious penalties on police who do the wrong thing.’

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