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My record on the environment.

Lee Rhiannon 30 Nov 2017

Friends, nature lovers, fellow Greens members, well the Greens NSW preselection is off and running but sadly there has been some misinformation about my work. Come, let us journey together on a fact finding mission!

One of the more ridiculous assertions is that I don’t care about the environment. My environment record inside and outside parliament is very strong.

I am the only Greens MP who did honours in botany and worked in the field. My research subjects could not have been much greener. I majored in botany and zoology at the University of NSW and did my honours thesis on “The Nature of Sclerophylly”. For those reaching for a dictionary to check out that tongue twisting word my study concentrated on the interaction water levels and nutrient availability have on the leaf structure of Banksia robur and Banksia serrata.  This was in 1975.
Together with colleagues I have had scientific papers published in the Australian Journal of Ecology This work was under my then family name of “Brown”. These are the details of the scientific papers.

  • Burrough, P., Brown, L. and Morris, E.G. Variations in vegetation and soil pattern across the Hawkesbury Sandstone Plateau from Barren Grounds to Fitzroy Falls, NSW. Australian Journal of Ecology. 1977. Vol. 2. Pp. 137-159.

  • Westoby, M. and Brown, L. The effect of clipping on self-thinning in Trifolium pratense. Australian Journal of Ecology 1980. Vol. 5. Pp. 407-409.

For a while I worked as an ecology researcher at Macquarie University. In the late 1980s and early 1990s while I was raising three children I worked at the Ideas Centre in Sydney where I met some outstanding activists. Many worked at the Rainforest Information Centre based in Lismore. This was a wonderful part of my life – hanging out on the north coast and working on some of the big campaigns of the 1990s assisting Indigenous communities like the Penan in South East Asia and communities in South America resist the rampant and corrupt logging industry.
In the early 1990s I co-founded AID/WATCH, an Australian NGO set up to monitor Australia’s overseas aid program and to expose the environmental devastation of World Bank and International Monetary Fund projects.

This work was ground breaking. I was a Director of AID/WATCH for six years. We revealed the extent of the misuse of Australian overseas aid to fund coal projects in low income counties. Protests against coal and for climate action were on the AID/WATCH agenda in the early 1990s. Additionally, our investigations into the damage caused by giant dams on the Mekong River were internationally recognised.
When I went into parliament in 1999 environmental protection was always high on my agenda. I assisted many communities campaigning to protect local bushland with my work inside and outside parliament. I was arrested at Manly Dam protesting against over-development and I successfully negotiated with the NSW government to give over extra land to Lane Cove National Park to compensate for the use of park lands at Fullers Bridge for the construction of the Parramatta Chatswood Rail Link. In 2010 I moved the first Bill in an Australian parliament to protect farming land from mining. Hundreds of farmers bussed to Sydney to support my Bill. We lost on this occasion by only one vote.

A search of my website shows that I regularly speak in the Senate about environmental issues. In 2015 I won support of the Senate to hold an inquiry into the toxic contamination at Williamtown RAAF Base. I continue to advocate for the federal government to clean up this pollution and compensate affected communities.

In August the Senate supported my motion calling on the NSW government to delay adopting their biodiversity land clearing scheme until all the required mapping was completed.
In June 2016 coming into the last federal election I released the Greens NSW environmental protection plan for NSW. Former Greens parliamentary leader Bob Brown wrote the foreword and launched the plan with me.
These are just a handful of examples of my work for the environment.
My record speaks for itself. I have dedicated my life to social and environmental justice, and I have no intention of stopping any time soon.

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