The defection of Queensland MP Ronan Lee will undoubtedly induce what might be called the “Colston effect”, in which material, real and otherwise, kept under wraps while a politician is within the fold is released to damage them after they betray their party.
But the peculiar relationship between Lee, environmentalists, Labor members and anti-abortionists continues to suggest he is not the gift to the Greens that they might think. The Greens’ decision not to preference Lee in 2004 – the only Labor MP not to be preferenced by the Greens in the State – was based, a source says, on his anti-abortion stance.
In the lead-up to that election in January 2004, the ALP negotiated a deal on land-clearing with the Wilderness Society and other environmental groups. Part of the deal was that the Society, of which Lee is a member, would support Lee in Indooroopilly in return for the Beattie Government’s action to slow land-clearing. The Society preferenced the Greens first and Lee second and flooded the electorate on election day with volunteers. It was only later that many of the young women who had volunteered for the Society on the day were shocked and disappointed to learn that their chosen candidate was a vehement anti-abortionist.
According to a Labor source, Lee’s stance was sufficiently alarming that his own branch members refused to campaign for him in 2006, forcing Lee to call on local Catholic Church volunteers to help him out.
“It’s said that he carries a picture of a foetus to impress anyone that opposes his views on abortion, although I never saw it,” a factional colleague said. “I was tempted to raise the issue with him so he would get it out and I could rip it up, but I refused to speak to him.”
And then there’s the peculiar issue of Lee’s children. Lee’s Parliamentary website lists one daughter, Ailbhe, born during his first, brief marriage in the early part of the decade (his then-wife featured prominently in his 2004 election material). However he also has a daughter from another, subsequent relationship, and his marriage appears to have been airbrushed from his public profile. Both mothers are said to have left the state. Lee’s MySpace site says he is currently “single”.
There’ll be more about Lee to come. One suspects the Greens don’t have much idea of the sort of bloke they’ve acquired.