Indigenous senator Lidia Thorpe has attacked the referendum campaign for “killing” her community and insisting white Australia must now commence treaty negotiations.

Claiming suicide rates have increased as a result of the divisive debate, Senator Thorpe said Anthony Albanese’s decision to hold a referendum had caused real harm.

“This year has been a hard one for my people,’’ she said.

“Mental health advocates say the referendum debate is causing harm.

“The day the colony was established, it started killing us. This referendum has been a new weapon in the war to divide and conquer and is still literally killing us.”

Senator Thorpe said the debate had ultimately “platformed” racists.

“The referendum conversation has platformed the worst our country has to offer,’’ she said.

“The vile racism of the official No campaign offering a banner for the alt-right to unite under is the most obvious of the harms caused.

The activist and self-declared later of the Blak Sovereign Movement marched into the voting booth today wearing a No T-shirt.

But she is coming to the debate from a very different perspective from conservatives.

Slamming the Voice as “another powerless advisory body that claims to be a great change, but guarantees none” she’s outlined what needs to be done to “heal” after the vote including truth-telling and treaty.

“The fight isn’t done with the referendum,’’ Senator Thorpe said. “I cannot wait for this to be over. But I also know that no matter the referendum result, it will not be over.

“Sunday needs to be the start of a healing process, not just from the referendum but the ongoing impacts of colonisation on our people and our lands,’’ she said.

Senator Thorpe said it was a critical moment in history. She has argued against the referendum on the grounds that a treaty with white Australia needed to happen first.

“Truth-telling is inseparable from healing. Through this healing we can embark on a new journey; one that will completely transform this country,’’ she said.

“Treaty-making with the First Peoples of this country offers us a blank canvas, a chance to reset the stage. The government promised to pursue all three elements of the Statement from the Heart. There is no excuse to delay Truth and Treaty any further.”

“It is time to mature as a nation. It is time to act.”

Senator Thorpe insisted that a Yes or No outcome would not change the fact that the real work remains to be done.

“This referendum has shown where the cancer is in this country, and where we need to heal this country,’’ she said.

“Where we need to put our efforts as a nation to stamp out this ugly thing called racism.”

The former Greens Senator said anyone who dared to question the referendum proposal and demand actual change have been “bullied, ignored and silenced.”

“It is incredible that First Nations people intending to vote No are the ones being accused of ‘racism’ at polling booths and beyond by these supposed ‘allies’ and supporters of Yes23,’’ she said.

Earlier this week, Ms Thorpe shocked many when she accused the Prime Minister of being “weak” for ruling out any future iteration of the Voice to Parliament if the referendum failed.

“That’s just weak. What a weak response. It’s like, ‘Oh, I’ll throw my bat and run away. I don’t want to play no more’ kind of attitude,” she told ABC Radio National on Thursday morning.

Host Patricia Karvelas then asked if she thought the Voice should be legislated, and the senator replied, “Why not? Let’s see how it works.”

However by that afternoon, the senator’s office released a statement to clarify she does not support the Voice but that “truth and treaty are the first steps that must be taken to bring peace to this land”.


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By Rahul

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