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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Is Australia still a British colony - continuing colonialism

Indigenous Australian senator, Lidia Thorpe, is in news while being sworn into Australia's parliament. The Senate president stopped the Greens senator for Victoria and asked her to redo the oath of allegiance. She was taking the oath alone after being absent when others were sworn in last week.


Following her recent tweet, read on this -    ‘No room for racism’ in AFL but it runs deeper than just verbal and online abuse.. .. it further read - Slogans are meaningless if the league continues to partner with entities which are detrimental to Indigenous Australians.  It has been another onerous few weeks on the “no room for racism” merry-go-round after Fremantle players Michael Walters and Michael Frederick were racially abused on social media following their club’s Naidoc Week win earlier this month. Predictably, there was another incident this weekend, with fresh allegations that a spectator racially abused Carlton defender Adam Saad on Saturday night. The simplistic slogan partly reflects the widespread ignorance of what racism is, how it functions and the ways in which it appears.  

Before reading further, here is some History :  Great Britain made its first tentative efforts to establish overseas settlements in the 16th century. Maritime expansion, driven by commercial ambitions and by competition with France, accelerated in the 17th century and resulted in the establishment of settlements in North America and the West Indies. By 1670 there were British American colonies in New England, Virginia, and Maryland and settlements in the Bermudas, Honduras, Antigua, Barbados, and Nova Scotia. Jamaica was obtained by conquest in 1655; Slave trading had begun earlier in Sierra Leone, but that region did not become a British possession until 1787.  The British Empire was composed of the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states.  By 1913 the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23 per cent of the world population at the time.   

On the eve of Azadi ka Amrit Mahothsav, India knows the pain of subjudication - how EAst India Company entered India as traders, colonised the land, killed freedom fighters mercilessly and punished subjects with iron hand !! - down under, now some voice raises against the Queen and colony.   

Thorpe was absent from parliament last week when other senators were officially sworn in, so took her oath on Monday morning. Walking to the Senate floor with her right fist raised in the air, Thorpe was asked to recite the words written on a card.   “I sovereign, Lidia Thorpe, do solemnly and sincerely swear that I will be faithful and I bear true allegiance to the colonising her majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” she said. The word “colonising” is not in the formal oath. The Labor Senate president, Sue Lines, interjected, as other senators voiced criticism and began calling to Thorpe.  

“You are required to recite the oath as printed on the card,” Lines told the Greens senator. “Please recite the oath.” Thorpe turned to speak to a Labor senator behind her who appeared to voice further criticism, before repeating the oath as printed. Another senator was heard to say “none of us like it”. Thorpe later tweeted “sovereignty never ceded” as she shared a photo of her swearing-in.  

Section 42 of the Australian constitution states that “every senator and every member of the House of Representatives shall before taking his seat make and subscribe” the oath.  A legal expert said Thorpe could have decided not to take up her seat, if she was not prepared to swear allegiance to the Queen. “Failure to do so would mean that she could not sit or vote. She would be entitled to other rights and privileges ... However, if she failed to attend for two consecutive months without the permission of the Senate, her place would become vacant under section 19 of the constitution,” she said.  

Though Australia is no longer under the British, going by the Australian constitution all senators and MPs must swear an allegiance to the Queen and her heirs and successors before sitting in parliament. The provision cannot be changed without a referendum, which would only be done as part of a broader move towards a republic in a future term of government.  

Interesting !


With regards - S. Sampathkumar
2nd Aug 2022.

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