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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Diego Fidele/AAP

Victorian senator Lidia Thorpe has been sacked as a deputy leader of the Greens, after revelations she failed to disclose she was in a relationship with the former president of the Victorian Rebels outlaw motorcyle gang.

At the time she was dating Dean Martin, she was on a parliamentary law enforcement committee that was gathering material about outlaw motorcycle gangs in an inquiry into online drug trading.

Greens leader Adam Bandt did not know of the association until he was approached by the ABC, which broke the story on Thursday.

Bandt said Thorpe had made “a significant error of judgement”.

“At a minimum, Senator Thorpe needed to disclose to me her connection to Mr Martin and her failure to do so showed a significant lack of judgement.”

Bandt said he expected Thorpe to to show better judgement in future and in exercising her portfolio responsibilities, which she has retained. He also pointed out she had not held the justice portfolio since the election.

“Senator Thorpe has important work to do on First Nations justice including on progressing Truth, Treaty and Voice and I want her to be able to do that work,” Bandt said.

Thorpe said in a statement she accepted “I have made mistakes and have not exercised good judgement”.

The ABC reported that Thorpe’s staff, worried about the situation, had taken the matter to Bandt’s office and to an independent parliamentary authority, the Parliamentary Workplace Support Service.

Bandt said his chief of staff had not passed the information on to him, which had been wrong.

“I have a good and competent chief of staff who makes many good decisions. This was not one of them.” He said his staff had thought the issue had been resolved.

“If I read the report correctly, Senator Thorpe’s staff had been told that the relationship had ended, or they thought that the relationship had ended.”

Thorpe told the ABC she and Dean, whom she met through Blak activism, had briefly dated early last year. She said they remained friends and had collaborated on their shared interest of advocating for First Nations peoples. Thorpe is Indigenous.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that “error of judgement” was “the least description that I would put” on Thorpe’s behaviour.

Bandt indicated Thorpe might face further action from her party room colleagues if they so decided.

The senator has been the centre of controversy on several occasions including over an allegedly combative meeting with an Indigenous woman.

Bandt referred to a finance department review that is under way into the culture of her office, following a complaint by one of her staff.

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

ref. Lidia Thorpe sacked as a Greens deputy leader after failing to disclose relationship with bikie figure – https://theconversation.com/lidia-thorpe-sacked-as-a-greens-deputy-leader-after-failing-to-disclose-relationship-with-bikie-figure-192947

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