Bureaucracy at its Finest: Lidia Thorpe as a Case Study


At this point, I’m sure most Australians know of Greens turned Independent Senator Lidia Thorpe for a variety of what seem to be primarily negative reasons. Including, but certainly not limited to, her most recent escapades such as getting kicked out of a strip club and racially abusing several male patrons, attempting to hold up the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras before being removed by police, and then being tackled by police in an attempt to disrupt Kellie-Jay Keen’s Let Women Speak event outside Parliament House last month. These escapades and the many others not mentioned invoke the question, at least in my mind, how did someone like this get into Parliament? And what did the people that voted for her see that I apparently can’t?

I think both the former and latter questions are primarily answered through the same thing, bureaucracy. Bureaucracy refers to a system of government or organization characterized by complex, hierarchical structures, numerous rules and regulations, and a formalized and often inflexible decision-making process. It typically involves a large and complex administrative system with specific roles, responsibilities, and procedures and is often criticized for its prioritisation of ‘paperwork’ and ‘red tape’ over practicality.

This particular system when adopted often becomes bloated with extra staff providing services of little use when analysed through the lens of true utility. However, determining the specific level of utility, or lack thereof, of someone’s output within a bureaucratic system is a very difficult thing to do when looking from outside the organisation without access to all the pertinent information. Nonetheless, I believe this is a likely explanation for why someone like Senator Thorpe was able to give off the impression of competency without ever having to truly prove it. Hence the votes and Senate appointment.

To clarify my point a bit more take a plumber for example, if they’re terrible at their job they’ll likely not last very long as competency is something required at the core of the role. If after bringing them in for a repair, the pipes are leaking and taps aren’t flowing you’ll never use them again. Should this continue, and it will if the plumber is incompetent, it’ll get to the point wherein this particular plumber is unable to find work. The point is, that competency is observable and measurable in such a role whereas a politician and/or bureaucrat rarely gets measured in the same way a plumber would. Senator Thorpe has never had to prove real competency as there isn’t a metaphorical pipe system for us to observe as a product of her labour.

What we can observe however is a litany of roles including Aboriginal employment adviser for the Municipal Association of Victoria, Lakes Entrance Basketball Association President, Project Manager, Co-chair positions and other roles of a similar nature. These particular jobs do all share some commonalities, mainly none are heavily merit or results-based roles. To clarify, I’m not disparaging such roles, I’m merely pointing out that measuring results is a very difficult thing to do when the ‘fruits of your labour’ are not easily measurable. This provides a potential explanation for why someone who clearly shouldn’t be in a very important position gets into a very important position.

Of course one could say I’m merely speculating and Senator Thorpe is in fact a competent politician. But where is the evidence of that? Looking at her political career, it is clear both her gender and race played a key role in getting her elected. Both of these are immutable and not earned physical characteristics proving nothing of value in a blind political system. The Senator supports the ‘Pay The Rent’ campaign which asks non-Indigenous Australians at ‘Invasion Day’ protests to give Indigenous Australians cash as reparations. She’s had a relationship with a former Rebels Bikie President which was not disclosed to Parliament. And, she’s quoted as saying in an interview that she was in Parliament to “…infiltrate” and that the Australian flag had “…no permission to be here”.

All of these facts are evidence not of a politician interested in working within the Australian government to better the lives of Australians. They’re evidence of a politician interested in racial sovereignty and furthering her own interests. This is someone who shows her true self when saying the following, “Any Black man who stands with a White little c**t like that, use can all get f****d too”. The Senator was subsequently banned from the Strip Club following this escapade. This means that a Melbourne Strip Club has higher standards for entry than the Australian Senate.

Author Details