Leader of the Australian Greens, Adam Bandt, has today announced a portfolio redistribution that will see Lidia Thorpe and Mehreen Faruqi take on a new anti-racism strategy intended to counter Australia’s growing tide of far right nationalism and tackle systemic racism.
The move comes as Lidia Thorpe attends her first Greens Party Room meeting as a Senator this Wednesday and ahead of a fuller redistribution of portfolios by Adam Bandt on Thursday.
Victoria’s first Aboriginal Senator, Lidia Thorpe, will have the First Nations and Justice portfolios, focusing on breaking down the entrenched disadvantage that Aboriginal people face.
Senator Mehreen Faruqi will lead a newly created Anti-Racism portfolio, aimed at sharpening the fight against a toxic surge of the anti-immigrant fringe.
Leader of the Australian Greens, Adam Bandt said that the last two years have seen the far right emboldened in Australian politics, growing from a handful of anti-immigrant politicians to a well-organised, far-right coalition.
“These new portfolios recognise the scale of the challenge that compassionate politics has today,” Mr Bandt said.
“These new portfolios will sharpen the Greens’ fight for justice and put anti-racist work at the core of everything we do.”
“It’s no longer enough to just preach acceptance of diversity. We need to actively prevent hate speech through education, take action against media that uncritically promotes hate, improve standards in our parliament, and dismantle the racist structures that fail to deliver First Nations peoples justice.
“Lidia Thorpe and Mehreen Faruqi will help lead the way as the Greens fight for justice, take on racism and tackle the far-right."
Senator Lidia Thorpe said despite the rising tide of racism, public support for systemic change is stronger than ever.
“Right now, we stand at a crossroads, as a nation and as a global community. People from all backgrounds are coming together, united by the conviction that no one’s identity or background should limit their potential, safety or their life expectancy,” Senator Thorpe said.
“Across the world, the Black Lives Matter movement has empowered the community to demand justice for First Nations people and people of colour.
“Australia’s continued failures towards First Nations people aren’t just the result of a few bad policy decisions. They’re systemic issues that have become entrenched through decades of inaction.
“If we’re to right these wrongs we need to fix the system. That means ending deaths in custody and the mass incarceration of First Nations peoples, righting the wrongs of the past and moving forward through Treaty, and reversing the entrenched economic inequality that this pandemic has highlighted.
“It’s time to address the systemic racism that cuts lives short and leaves Aboriginal people falling behind. A just Nation means justice for all, including First Nations people.”
Senator Mehreen Faruqi said that anti-racist advocacy and activism was more important than ever.
“Australia hasn't yet grappled with being the country that raised the Christchurch killer,” Senator Faruqi said.
“We're going to take the fight to the far-right and their cheerleaders in Parliament and the media to build a proactively anti-racist movement.
“For our country to become anti-racist at its core, we need strong hate speech laws, resources for quashing the far-right, a national anti-racism campaign and diversity in public life.
“The institutions that are meant to protect us haven’t just failed - they’ve become captive to the hate they’re meant to fight. Any nation where police officers feel comfortable with flashing white supremacist hand gestures is not one where people of colour can feel safe.
“Politicians who ignore or encourage the rise of the far-right do so at their own peril. I'm proud of the Greens record of anti-racist work alongside communities of colour.
“Australia's colonial history and ongoing occupation has to be recognised and addressed head on. I'm looking forward to working with Lidia to do just that.”
The portfolio redistribution has also seen Senator Janet Rice take up the Multiculturalism Portfolio, highlighting how building a diverse and compassionate society is the responsibility of all of us, not just people of colour.