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Lee's first day on the job

Lee Rhiannon 1 Jul 2011

Blog post by Senator Lee Rhiannon

Today, ten months and ten days after the federal election, I have started work as a Greens Senator for NSW. We have finished unpacking the boxes and we have just sent out our first email to members and supporters.

Understandably many people are curious about what my priorities are. We have already had one discussion at the NSW Greens State Delegates Council meeting and I'm very interested in meeting with constituents and organisations that work on my portfolio areas to hear their views.

I am giving particular attention to being an effective voice for NSW. Action on climate change will be a top priority. With 85 per cent of this state's energy sourced from coal fired power we have a lot to do on the transition from coal dependency to clean renewable energy.


From my work in regional areas I know many people can see through the scare tactics of opposition leader Tony Abbott on climate change. Jobs growth, expansion of export trade, a clean local environment as well as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions are all possible if federal and state governments take strong action.

My staff and I will put in a mighty effort to work with communities across NSW to achieve this urgent transition. As well as representing NSW issues, my portfolios are democracy, local government, higher education, animal welfare, forests, women and overseas aid. I'll also be assisting Senator Bob Brown on national security.

Keep an eye on my new website for details of our work on these different portfolios. One of the first issues that I will be looking at is electoral funding reform. As a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters I will participate in the current inquiry into Funding of Political Parties and Election Campaigns.

The Labor-Greens Agreement covers the need for electoral funding reform. At the end of last year the Greens had a major breakthrough in NSW with new legislation introduced to ban political donations from developers and the tobacco industry and strict limits on other donations.

We achieved that win because of strong community desire to stop corporate interests buying access to political leaders.  I'm confident that we can take those achievements to the federal level.

I have excellent, experienced staff. I am very fortunate that many of the people I worked with in state parliament are again part of our team. We started working together when their children were young and flexible job share roles suited them. That style of work continues in this Senate office which brings a wider range of experience to the team, with benefits all round.

Susie Gemmell is my senior adviser. Alison Orme and Jemma Bailey will jointly cover the media work. Helen Bergen, who previously worked with Peter Andren, the former independent member for Calare, also joins us as an adviser. Lesa de Leau is the campaigns coordinator working with Ben Raue as a campaigner. Linda Wilhelm is the office manager and Brami Jegan is my personal assistant.  If you would like to follow our work you can sign up to receive fortnightly bulletins from the Greens NSW, or sign up for the federal Greens MPs email list.

I feel very privileged to be in this job, to have such a great team to work alongside, and to be going into the Senate with Greens colleagues from every state.  I'm looking forward to being in Canberra on Monday for the first sitting day of the new Senate.

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