Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon has today announced that she will retire from Parliament in August 2018.
In an email to all Greens NSW members Lee warmly congratulated Dr Mehreen Faruqi who will replace her in the Senate and lead the Greens NSW Senate ticket in the next federal election.
Senator Rhiannon is a long-term social justice and environmental activist who was elected to the Senate in 2011 after previously serving as a Greens MP in the NSW Parliament. Her final day in office as a Greens Senator will be 14 August 2018.
Senator Rhiannon is currently the federal Greens portfolio holder for housing, democracy, animal welfare, gun control, local government and industry.
“It has been a pleasure and honour working as a Greens MP. I wish to thank all the staff I have worked with, my family, Greens members and activists across Australia for their support and for their unwavering commitment to building a better world”, said Senator Rhiannon.
“My time in parliament has been fruitful for our struggles and policy outcomes. I am proud of the achievements we have gained together.
“In some ways I am an accidental politician. When I was young, parliament was where we went to protest not to get a job. My years as an MP have strengthened my belief that it is community action that drives progressive social change.
“History shows that the Greens can achieve election wins with principled, progressive campaigns. I look forward to joining Greens members on the campaign trail for the upcoming NSW and federal elections.
“In resigning from parliament I am not resigning from politics. I enjoy working with people and there is still much to be done to make our society more inclusive and just and to protect our environment.
“I am passionate about campaigns for renationalising public services, Palestinian self-determination, union rights, climate action, free public education and animal rights. I will continue to work with these campaigns and stand alongside those who are seeking to create a greener, fairer world.” Senator Rhiannon said.
Key parliamentary achievements
- Democracy wins - Lee’s Democracy for Sale project has helped put the need for political donation reform and a national corruption watch dog on the parliamentary agenda. In 2017 the Democracy for Sale project found the total amount of declared donations and payments made to Australian political parties since 1998 topped $1 billion.
- Lee’s years of work in NSW exposing developer donation scandals and drafting an anti-corruption bill put enormous pressure on the Labor government. By 2009 there were so many scandals Labor introduced their own Developer Donations (Anti-Corruption) Bill.
- Live exports - Following the latest horror of the exposure of the mass deaths of thousands of sheep on live export ships Lee has worked closely with animal groups, crossbench MPs, some Liberal MPs and Labor on a Private Members Bill to end the live sheep export trade. For many years Lee has worked to help build this broad based campaign. In 2012 the meat workers union backed the Greens Five Point Plan to end live exports.
- Upper House voting reform - Lee played a critical role in campaigning for and winning Senate voting reform. The legislation ended the back room preference deals so now voters determine their OWN Senate preferences. Lee had a similar win with NSW Upper House voting reform in 1999.
- Defence contamination – After being alerted to toxic contamination around Williamtown RAAF Base Lee started visiting the community regularly and won Senate support for an inquiry into the environmental and health impacts of the contamination at Defence sites.
- Beating Abbott uni cuts – Lee worked with student and education unions on a mass campaign to defeat (twice) the Abbott government's higher education cuts that would have led to $100,000 degrees and massive cuts to university funding.
- Save TAFE – Lee won Senate support for an inquiry into TAFE and the role of private providers. This inquiry put the spotlight on how the destructive nature of market-based policies has undermined TAFE as a centre for technical education excellence.