Lidia Thorpe accused the acting Senate president of being “asleep in her chair” during a heated afternoon discussion, leading to her being silenced through extraordinary action.
The passionate independent senator was waiting in the chamber at 8.30pm on Tuesday night to make a speech about her cousin, who died in police custody in 2022.
But he lost patience when Labor senator Louise Pratt, who was acting president at the time, gave a colleague a 10-minute window to speak; when Mrs. Thorpe understood that they would only be allowed five minutes.
The incident was clearly frustrating for other senators as well. Liberal senator Maria Kovacic noted that she had been waiting more than an hour and 15 minutes for the chance to express her opinion.
Thorpe began shouting over everyone else in the room, arguing that Pratt had been “asleep in that chair” and that the previous sitting president had already closed five-minute speaking windows.
“I have a mother who lost a child to her system,” Mrs. Thorpe shouted.
‘Wake up. Wake up. How come all of us heard one thing and you heard something different?
Thorpe asked Senate President Sue Lines to review Pratt’s conduct and said she would like to see her return to the chamber.
“She should be in the seat dealing with this issue right now, because you are taking us down.”
Moments later, Senator Lines returned to the chamber and, in a rare move, ordered that Ms Thorpe no longer be heard from.
Unlike the House of Representatives, Senators cannot be removed from the chamber due to their conduct. However, they can be ordered to remain silent for a certain period of time.
Thorpe began shouting over everyone else in the room, claiming that Pratt had been “asleep in that chair.”
Mrs Thorpe answered the call and asked: “Have you made that decision?” Are you telling me they can’t hear me? Because I want to know. Alright? Is that what’s happening?
“I’m not leaving this chamber, I’ll read now.”
As another senator continued her speech at Lines’ urging, Thorpe began speaking over her, sharing her own statements about the death of Josh Kerr, who died in police custody in August 2022.
His mother, Donna, was reportedly listening to the proceedings and hoped the tragedy would be addressed.
In the midst of all the chaos, Minister Murray Watt stood up and called for the Senate to be adjourned, ending the session.
Thorpe has promised to share his full speech on Wednesday.
Hours earlier, he weighed in on the tragic deaths of Jessie Baird and Luke Davies, who were allegedly murdered by an on-duty police officer.
As a result, New South Wales Police have been disinvited from Mardi Gras, which takes place this weekend.
Thorpe called on Senate President Sue Lines to review Pratt’s conduct and said she would like to see her return to the chamber.
Thorpe said it was a welcome decision and an outcome that the black and queer community has fought hard for.
“For decades, queer and Black people have been mistreated and murdered by police, and this continues unchecked every day,” he said.
‘There is a shocking lack of standards and accountability within police departments across the country. This means that violent offenders – many of them racist and homophobic – are given a badge, a gun, and permission to act with impunity against our communities.
‘Too often we have seen police officers get away 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, it’s a serious problem with police departments across the country. 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 to police officers who do the wrong thing.”