Ronan Lee and the Greens, strange bedfellows indeed
Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane writes:|
Oct 06, 2008 12:00AM |EMAIL|PRINT
The Greens are buying themselves trouble with Queensland MP Ronan Lee.
Put aside the issue of whether an MP who bails out of their own party should resign. You’ll never get a consistent answer from any political party on that.
It’s just that Lee is not going to fit particularly well into the Greens.
Well, he will in part. Lee felt strongly enough about his own environmental impact to publicly declare he had become a vegetarian. No wonder the carnivores in the Queensland ALP hated him long before he defected.
But there’s a few problems with his green record. Anna Bligh said yesterday that, contrary to his claims to have advocated action on climate change within the ALP, he had never persistently advocated anything to her. His interest in Queensland dams — he cited the Government’s handling of the Traveston Crossing Dam as one of the main reasons for his defection — seems to have developed since 2005, when he couldn’t answer questions on the issue; nor has he ever spoken in Parliament about Traveston Crossing.
Lee took Indooroopilly from the Liberals — remember them? — in 2001 and held it in 2004 and 2006. Such was Lee’s environmental track record that the Greens didn’t even preference Lee in 2004. In fact, they preferenced the ALP in every other seat except his in that election.
With the ALP polling badly, Lee faced almost certain defeat at the next election. But let’s assume his departure from the ALP was motivated by his alleged environmental interest rather than the fact that he thinks his slim chances of political survival are maximised by building a profile as the only Greens MP in Queensland, although his decision gifts the seat to the Nationals at the next election.
It’s just that Lee’s social views place him way outside the rest of his new party. Lee is a Catholic from Ireland — a seriously hardline one, who has very strong anti-choice views. The Courier Mail has already pointed out the discrepancy between Lee’s opposition to reproductive choice and the Greens’ policy that “women have the right to decide whether or not to continue a pregnancy” and that abortion should be available in all areas of Queensland. Lee also voted against stem cell research.
His views on the Federal Greens’ current Senate Bill backing the right of Territories to legislate in relation to euthanasia would be most interesting.
In fact, Lee is such a hardline conservative on social issues that he is the darling of the lunatics at the Queensland Festival of Light, which in 2004 declared he “deserves top marks for having the courage of his pro-life convictions… [his] Indooroopilly win despite a statewide swing of about 2% to the Coalition shows that voters are willing to support candidates who want to protect babies and embryos before birth.” Some constituents have wondered whether Lee has obtained political funding from anti-choice groups.
It appears, though, that Lee’s Catholicism is a bit selective. He’s divorced from the mother of his seven-year-old daughter.
Lee was a big promoter of Bill Shorten, who in return launched his 2006 campaign. The other Bill, the big Bill, as in Ludwig, was also a Lee backer since Lee switched to his AWU faction in 2005. And Lee shares a former staffer with Kevin Rudd. Rudd second-in-command Alister Jordan worked for Lee as an electorate officer in 2001.
There’ll be some very disappointed people in the ALP. They don’t like rats, at all.