Furious Liberal senator chokes up after Greens MP allegedly yelled 'at least I keep my legs shut' at her in Parliament - and claims it was a calculated insult about her young son

Lidia Thorpe allegedly told Hollie Hughes 'at least I kept my legs shut' in senateSenator Thorpe withdrew her remark and later apologised to Senator HughesOn Thursday Senator Hughes said comment was reference to her autistic son'Had I kept my legs shut I wouldn't have a child with autism,' she said 

Senator Hughes is pictured with son Fred

Senator Hughes is pictured with son Fred

A Liberal Senator who was allegedly the target of a crass comment in Parliament claims her Greens opponent was making a ‘vile’ reference to her autistic son. 

Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe apologised after allegedly telling Hollie Hughes ‘at least I kept my legs shut’ during a heated debate on Wednesday night. 

In an interview with Sky News on Thursday, a visibly emotional Senator Hughes said the comment implied that if she kept her legs shut she would not have an autistic child. 

Senator Hughes is a mother of three whose son Fred was diagnosed with autism in 2012. 

She told Sky News she found the comments ‘beyond disgusting, beyond vile.’

‘I’m still a bit in shock,’ she said.

Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting Senator Thorpe was intentionally referencing Senator Hughes’ child with the remark, only that the Liberal Senator and her colleagues have interpreted the alleged comment that way.  

Lidia Thorpe is pictured in the senate chamber. She apologised for he offensive comment on Wednesday night

Lidia Thorpe is pictured in the senate chamber. She apologised for he offensive comment on Wednesday night

During Question Time in the senate on Wednesday afternoon Senator Thorpe had stormed out of the chamber while NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds was answering a question about International Day of Persons with Disabilities, in a protest about two Aboriginal deaths in custody. 

In a later debate at about 7.30pm Senator Hughes and Senator Thorpe had an exchange of words across the chamber before Senator Thorpe allegedly made the offensive comment.

‘Senator Thorpe yelled out at me and I responded that she was a disgrace for pulling that stunt while we were discussing people with a disability,’ Senator Hughes claimed.

‘And at that point she said ”at least I kept my legs shut”.’

When she withdrew the comment moments later, Senator Thorpe said she had been triggered to make the comment after she ‘saw something’ – but Senator Hughes said this was a poor excuse. 

‘It is untrue that she saw something because I was sitting on the front bench. But what I took from it, what a number of colleagues from across the chamber took from it was that had I kept my legs shut I wouldn’t have a child with autism,’ she said.

‘Honestly I am dumbfounded that someone would say that. I can take it, have a god at me I could not care less. But when some-one invokes some-one’s child I think they have crossed a line.’ 

Senator Thorpe later apologised, telling the senate: ‘I just want to unreservedly take back my comments that I made earlier and I apologise to that senator wholeheartedly, Senator Hughes.’

Her office has not confirmed or denied Senator Hughes’ claims or commented further.


When Senator Thorpe made the comment, Liberal Senator Ben Small stood up and said to the President: ‘Senator Thorpe just made the most outrageous statement directed at Senator Hughes, which you probably didn’t hear.

‘But in the scheme of disgusting statements made in this chamber that surely ranks at the top of them.’  

Federal MP Jason Falinski said the Greens senator’s alleged insult was a form of ‘slut-shaming’.

‘It has no place in public life, and frankly I don’t think it has a place in the wider Australian community,’ the member for Mackellar on Sydney’s Northern Beaches told 2GB.

‘It’s nothing short of slut-shaming.’ 

It comes just two days after Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins handed down a report which found that 37 per cent of parliament workers have been bullied.

Senator Hughes noted the report said 61 per cent of the bullies were women and said this is the first time she has been bullied in parliament. 

On Tuesday Ms Thorpe was kicked out of parliament after she took off her jacket in the middle of a debate and shouted: ‘Black lives don’t matter in Beetaloo’.

Ms Thorpe, 48, was protesting against $50 million in grants for new gas projects in the Northern Territory when she suddenly whipped off her jacket and scarf on Monday. 

Her outburst came during a debate when she slammed Labor for not supporting the Greens against the drilling project in the NT’s Beetaloo Basin. 

She revealed a white t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan Black Lives Don’t Matter in the Beetaloo, a play on the Black Lives Matter campaign in the USA.

‘Both Labor and the Liberals need to stop listening to the oil and gas companies that purchase you and your vote,’ she raged. ‘Listen to the people.’  

‘You’re being given given an opportunity to do the right thing, so do it now. Don’t wait. Black lives don’t matter in the Beetaloo unless you do the right thing.’

She added: ‘If you really care, you would listen to the traditional owners who don’t want their country fracked, and protect sacred sites and the environment.

Ms Thorpe (pictured) was on Monday kicked out of Parliament after she stripped off in the middle of a debate and shouted: 'Black lives don't matter'

Ms Thorpe (pictured) was on Monday kicked out of Parliament after she stripped off in the middle of a debate and shouted: ‘Black lives don’t matter’

‘Vote like black lives depend on it because they do.’

After the Victoria senator repeatedly chanted ‘Black lives don’t matter in the Beetaloo – it’s shameful…shame!’ she was ejected from the chamber for ‘wearing a slogan’. 

Earlier, the debate heard gas drilling could add 13 per cent each year to Australia’s carbon emissions, but the move to block the grants failed when Labour abstained.  

The NT government has given Australian oil and gas company Empire Energy the green light to explore the viability of gas projects in the basin. 

Ms Thorpe, 48, was on Monday protesting against $50 million in grants for new gas projects in the Northern Territory when she suddenly whipped off her jacket and scarf to reveal her t-shirt with the Black Lives Don't Matter slogan

Ms Thorpe, 48, was on Monday protesting against $50 million in grants for new gas projects in the Northern Territory when she suddenly whipped off her jacket and scarf to reveal her t-shirt with the Black Lives Don’t Matter slogan

Nationals senator Matt Canavan said Australia needed more secure oil and gas supplies to become self-sufficient.

Europe had ‘become slaves to Moscow’ and needed to beg Russia to supply enough gas after shutting down its own gas projects, he said.

‘We do not want to be beholden to dictatorial authoritarian regimes which is what happens when you do not develop your own energy resources,’ Senator Canavan added.

No Labor senator spoke on the motion to block the grants but the opposition has previously backed exploration in the basin. 

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