The Northern Territory Attorney-General has hit back at Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe after the Senator made comments about her in regards to the Territory’s youth justice bail laws.
Addressing Parliament on May 11, Senator Thorpe described the Labor Government’s reforms as “racist” stating they were the “21st century sophistication of genocide”.
She also incorrectly assumed that NT Attorney-General Selena Uibo was a white man.
“I do hope the Attorney-General, given he probably didn’t read the Royal Commission recommendations, hopefully listens to these experts,” she said.
“Hopefully they are white, because white is right in this place.”
The next evening in NT Parliament, Ms Uibo responded to the Senator’s comments.
“There is nothing more galling or frustrating than when we have a Senator from inner-city Melbourne, who visits the Territory for five minutes, flies home and then goes back to the Senate and makes deceitful comments,” she said.
“I am an Aboriginal woman with ancestral lands and connections in the Groote Eylandt archipelago and the Numbulwar East Arnhem regions of the Northern Territory.
“I have read the recommendations of the Royal Commission … many times over in fact.”
Ms Uibo advised any southern politician who felt like “using the Northern Territory as a punching bag for their own political point-scoring” to first “get your facts straight about the Northern Territory and its people — especially about democratically elected members of the Northern Territory Parliament”.
She also commented on Senator Thorpe’s behaviour during her visit to the NT.
“When you front a committee hearing in Borroloola, don’t play on your phone the whole time. People notice,” she said.
“And remote travel 101, you should take the time before you travel to a remote community to ensure you are appropriately dressed for the community visit and not dressed like some southern tourist on their dry season holiday.”
The Attorney-General also said politicians visiting the Territory should remember their responsibility as members of Parliament.
“Given it’s federal election time sometime soon, I know we’ll see a steady stream of federal politicians visiting us here in the Territory,” she said.
“They take a selfie, they post a tweet, or they put a picture up on Instagram … And if we’re lucky, they might even correctly pronounce the name of the traditional lands that they are visiting.
“I sincerely hope that they take the time to listen, to learn and to consult with Territorians.
“There’s nothing Territorians hate more than a lecture from a federal senator who doesn’t even represent the Territory.”
In a statement to NIT, the Attorney-General said she responded to Senator Thorpe because she chose to “publicly question my work ethic, race and gender without checking basic facts first”.
“I have not received a response from Senator Thorpe and, frankly, I am not waiting for an apology because I am focused on delivering for Territorians,” she said.
“As I said in my speech, our youth justice legislation elicited many passionate views and attracted a great deal of controversy.
“I completely respect Senator Thorpe’s difference of opinion and she is welcome to read my debate contribution to the legislation which can be accessed online.”
NIT has been advised Senator Thorpe will not be commenting further on the matter.
By Rachael Knowles