Incoming indigenous Australian Senator Lidia Thorpe made a spectacle on Monday as she took Australia’s oath of allegiance to the British queen.
Her fist raised, Thorpe demonstrated her disapproval of Australia’s Head of State by changing the wording of the oath.
“I, sovereign Lidia Thorpe, do solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will be faithful and I bear true allegiance to the colonizing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II…”
The Australian Parliament burst into murmurs in reaction to Thorpe’s deviation. The traditional oath makes no mention of the term “colonizing.”
“Senator Thorpe,” interrupted Senate President Sue Lines. “You are required to recite the oath as printed on the card.”
Interjections of disapproval from other members of the Parliament followed.
“You’re not a senator if you don’t do it properly,” one member shouted at Thorpe.
“None of us like it,” another commented.
Was the Australian senator right in changing the wording of the oath?
Thorpe’s demeanor changed after the disapproval from her fellow members. Maybe she anticipated having more support in her protest against the queen.
Turning her attention back to the oath after glaring at the other Parliament members, the senator hesitantly raised fist and mockingly recited the correct oath.
After the ordeal, Thorpe took to Twitter to continue her protest.
“Sovereignty never ceded,” the senator tweeted.
The Guardian, a left-wing publican in Australia, released an analysis regarding whether or not Thorpe was legally obligated to use the exact wording of the oath in order to be installed as a member of the Australian Parliament.
From what many understand, the Australian constitution requires the oath of allegiance to be taken. But constitutional expert Anne Twomey of the University of Sydney asserts otherwise.
The oath is part of “an internal proceeding in the Parliament,” she said. “I doubt whether it would be ‘justiciable’ — ie I don’t think it is something that could be enforced before a court.”
“It is a matter for the presiding officers of the Houses to enforce section 42,” Twomey said.
And President Lines chose to enforce this measure.
But Twomey also argued that Senator Thorpe “could have decided not to take up her seat, if she was not prepared to swear allegiance to the Queen.”
Australia’s association with the Britain and Queen Elizabeth is established through the British Commonwealth, which descended from the British Empire and was put into place immediately after the conclusion of World War II.
Consisting of 54 countries, including Canada, New Zealand, Belize and The Bahamas, members of the Commonwealth choose whether or not they acknowledge the British queen as their symbolic head.
Just as the there is controversy in the U.K. regarding the relevance and obsolescence of the British royalty, Australia also has disagreements about it.
Matt Thistlethwaite, the assistant minister for the Australian republic, called the custom of swearing allegiance to the queen “archaic and ridiculous.”
“It does not represent the Australia we live in, and it’s further evidence of why we need to begin discussing becoming a republic with our own head of state. We are no longer British,” he said.
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