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First Greens MPs share advice and memories

Lee Rhiannon 7 Jul 2011

Blog post by Senator Lee Rhiannon

Federal Greens MPs past and present came together last Sunday with our current ten strong party room for a wonderful celebration of our expanded party room and to acknowledge the contribution of former Greens MPs.

We met in the federal parliament. These days 15 - the total number of federal MPs past and present - makes for a tight squeeze in our party room.

The five former Greens MPs include four Senators, three from WA and one from NSW, and our first House of Representatives MP.

The three former WA senators are Jo Vallentine, Christabel Chamarette and Dee Margetts. The former NSW senator is Kerry Nettle and the former NSW House of Representatives MP is Michael Organ, who was elected at a 2002 by-election in the seat of Cunningham on the NSW south coast.

After a warm welcome from Senator Bob Brown we heard from Jo Vallentine. Jo was first elected in 1985 representing the Nuclear Disarmament Party. Jo was elected as the first Greens Senator in 1990.

Jo's beautiful words were deeply congratulatory outlining the important stage we are at: "So many people are behind us and we have to remember them."

Jo and all the former MPs emphasised the importance of the MPs looking after themselves and their loved ones as we spend long periods away from home.

The theme of activist MPs ran through many of the speeches. Kerry reflected on the great strength of Greens MPs bringing community voices into parliament.

The range of work undertaken by our MPs in the 1990s was so extensive. Michael Organ spoke about the Greens work on free trade and how he and some of the independents voted against Labor and the Coalition parties on the agreement with the US that was so detrimental to Australia's interests.

This discussion reminded us of that great moment in October 2003 when Bob and Kerry addressed the then US president George Bush at a joint sitting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Bob's famous words to the former president, "Respect the laws of the world and the world will respect you" were reported by hundreds of news outlets.

After the speeches we toured parliament together to check out our expanded seating in the Senate and then we moved onto Manuka for a memorable dinner. It  was an historic and most enjoyable day.


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