Greens senator Lidia Thorpe’s former chief-of-staff says he was scared and appalled by her outburst in a meeting with two Indigenous community leaders at Parliament House last year, calling her behaviour among the most unprofessional conduct he has ever witnessed.
The claims by Thorpe’s ex-top adviser reinforce the account of the meeting by Aboriginal elder Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, aged in her 70s, who has previously alleged the tirade of abuse levelled at her by the senator distressed her so much she sought medical attention from the parliamentary nurse.
David Mejia-Canales, who resigned from Thorpe’s office in June, accompanied the senator to the meeting with Atkinson and Marcus Stewart, the co-chairs of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, and their policy adviser Nicole Schlesinger, to discuss the state’s treaty process in a committee room in Parliament House, Canberra on June 22, 2021.
His account of what happened, and his efforts to inform the Greens’ leadership of Thorpe’s “appalling conduct”, are detailed in an apology emailed from his Parliament House address to Atkinson and Stewart in June, one year after the meeting, as one of his final acts before leaving the senator’s office.
In the email, a copy of which has been obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Mejia-Canales said he still did not know why Thorpe had agreed to the meeting only to proceed “to behave so badly”.
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