Nat Barr confronts Lidia Thorpe with the burning question on most Aussies’ minds as her uncle tries to claim a Melbourne Park
Nat Barr confronted Lidia Thorpe after her uncle set up camp in a public park and refused to leave until the government returned it to Aboriginal people.
Robbie Thorpe established ‘Camp Sovereignty’ at Kings Domain in Melbourne on Tuesday and says the park is unceded Aboriginal sovereign land.
He was joined by others who say they are prepared to stay “forever” unless the large park, 1km south of the city centre, is returned to the people of the Kulin nation.
Mr Thorpe held a similar protest at the park for 60 days in 2006.
The Kings Domain Resting Place is the burial ground for 38 Aboriginal people
The protest follows the recent return of parkland in Melbourne’s north to traditional owners and a $100 million claim made for Sydney’s Balmoral Beach.
Sunrise host Nat Barr confronted Lidia Thorpe about her uncle’s land claim in Melbourne
Throwing her full support behind her uncle’s land claim, Senator Thorpe was confronted by Sunrise host Natalie Barr on Thursday morning.
“It’s an incredibly complex issue that people struggle to understand,” Barr said.
“Today, people are looking out there who will say, “I can’t be held responsible for what happened in the past. Can you understand that? What are you telling them?”
Senator Thorpe hit back with some damning statistics about the impact of colonization on Aboriginal people and her demands for Aussies.
“We were 100 percent of the population in the country before colonization and the boats came,” she said.
‘We are the most prisoners; 23,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have been taken from their families, and the list goes on.
‘We are the most incarcerated women in the world – Aboriginal women, who are only 3 per cent. That’s a lot of women. So we want peace. We want unity. We would like to have a treaty that is about a peace agreement.
“And I understand that there is fear. But don’t listen to the politicians who create this fear. Listen to those who want to unite the country and get on with it. So that we can be proud of where we live and who we are as a nation.’
Robbie Thorpe (pictured) wants to open a cultural interpretation center at the Melbourne site
Greens MP Tim Read (left) is pictured with Mr Thorpe (centre) on Wednesday
Senator Thorpe also addressed the divisive state of the nation after the referendum, saying Camp Sovereignty was a peaceful gathering open to all Australians.
‘The sit-in at Kings Domain, or Camp Sovereignty, is a peaceful gathering. Everyone is welcome to come down, to tell the truth, stories to share the fire and contribute to healing our country from the ground up,’ she said.
‘This is an opportunity for everyday Australians to join the conversation about treaty and peace and move away from the division that is observed every January 26.’
Barr’s co-host, Matt ‘Shirvo’ Shirvington, then questioned the senator about whether the park seat was the best way to address the issue.
“Robbie has done this before,” Shirvo explained. ‘In 2006 he did it for 60 days. Essentially, he makes it his life’s work, doesn’t he? He wasn’t going to leave until he got some kind of decision. Is this the best way to do it?’
“And I understand that there is fear. But don’t listen to the politicians who create this fear. They got it wrong in the referendum. They were told not to have it.
“So I think it’s now for the people to start having these conversations at the local level so that we can show these politicians how we can have a united nation here that we can come together, we can live together.
‘It’s not about taking people’s backyards. This is not about taking anything away from everyday Australians. It’s about making your lives better by understanding the country you live in.
‘To understand the true stories. I mean, what they now call Kings Domain has been a gathering place for thousands of generations. We want to bring it back to a gathering place for everyone.’
Mr Thorpe has so far complied with requests to remove tents and marquees from the space
His cousin, Senator Lidia Thorpe, said she would support the group in “every way” she could
Indigenous activists hope to build a stone house there as a cultural interpretation center while removing all traces of the ‘Windsor crime family’.
They plan to rename the park ‘Yalukit Willam’, its traditional name, and hold ceremonies for education and healing in the cultural interpretation centre.
Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance, the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and the area around the Royal Botanic Gardens are all within Kings Domain.
Mr Thorpe said if his group didn’t ‘win’, they had nothing left.
He said he was trying to work with the City of Melbourne to help promote an ‘Aboriginal culture close to the CBD’.
Police have visited the camp several times and Mr Thorpe has so far complied with requests to remove tents and marquees from the space.
Camp Sovereignty’s organizers held a meeting with board members Wednesday morning to work out a way forward for their protest.
Tim Read, Greens MP, also visited the camp on Wednesday to meet Mr. Thorpe to talk about his ambitions and to do others to participate.