Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon, in her inaugural speech, has called for a raft of legislative reforms to address economic inequality, clean up political donations at a national level, and protect agricultural land and water from mining.
Senator Rhiannon said she was honoured to again have the opportunity to represent NSW and work to protect its forests, coast, rivers, farming lands and the rights of all residents. She paid tribute to the historic struggles of social and environmental activists:
“History demonstrates that while parliaments make the laws, people are the driving force for social change. I believe one of the great strengths of the Greens is our constructive parliamentary work combined with our commitment to amplify in this place the voice of progressive people’s movements,” Senator Rhiannon said.
On the 40th anniversary of the first Green ban and with Jack Mundey and over 150 supporters in the Senate chamber, she paid tribute to the social movement unionism that the Builders Labourers pioneered:
“…bringing together unionists, environmentalists, resident action groups, students and many concerned members of the public to develop a style of political cooperation that I’m proud to say is a cornerstone for the Greens today.”
The speech outlined the successes of the environment movement and stressed the remaining challenges:
“When I was educated in the 1960s and 1970s the word “environment” was rarely found outside a science textbook. Today we have environment ministers, numerous international environment treaties and most political parties recognise that come election time a policy on the environment is a must.”
Senator Rhiannon called for tougher regulation to address economic inequality and the increasing power of large corporations:
“The influence of lobby groups, political donations and advertising campaigns that are undermining good policy proposals, including the mining tax and a price on carbon, is affecting our democratic processes.
She thanked her working class family who encouraged her to be an active citizen:
“I was fortunate to grow up surrounded by generous people, like my parents, deeply committed to making the world a fairer, more peaceful place for all.”
The full transcript of Senator Rhiannon’s speech is now available here.
Media contact: Alison Orme 0487 350 880
Lee Rhiannon was a NSW Greens MP for 10 years before she was elected to the Federal Senate, taking office on 1 July 2011. Her current portfolios are: Democracy, Local Government, Higher Education, Women, International Aid & Development, Animal Welfare, Forests and Assisting Senator Brown on National Security.