(1): Early start
Many progressive or disgruntled voters are thinking to vote for the Greens in the next federal election this coming July, as they are so dissatisfied with the two major parties. They intend to do so based on progressive rhetoric of the Greens party for the last few years, especially when it comes to refugees rights, Palestinian rights, anti-war and public services and assets. What they do not realise that the Greens, while talking nice on many of these issues, but are totally agree in actions with the two major parties on these issues. Not only this. The Greens party in fact has more destructive attitude and agendas than the two major parties, but try to hide them behind progressive rhetoric.
One of the most controversial Greens politicians is Lee Rhiannon. She built an image totally opposite to its real personality and commitments (or lack of commitments).
In the next few weeks, I will record my personal experience with this opportunist politician. I will mention facts, dates, events, discussion exchanges and my own observation and assessment. The rest will lie in your hands for final decision if this politician deserves your vote in the coming election.
I joined the Greens late 2000, after becoming very angry form Labor under Kim Beazley’s leadership that showed no real opposition to destructive conservative agendas of John Howard. I was new to this country, after migrating from Jordan 4 years earlier.
Attending Greens events and meetings, there was one constant face I was seeing. And this person was always vocal on issues of social justice and equality. No matter the subject was, you cannot disagree with her. This was Lee Rhiannon, the MLC in NSW then.
She was very good organiser: she is everywhere, at all events, record details of everything and follows up on previous conversations. This is why she was successful in her empire-building inside the Greens and could sideline many of her rivals.
Immediately after few months of being active in Greens politics, I noticed the heavy division inside the party. Despite the popularity of Lee Rhiannon inside the party, but she could not overcome her weaknesses. The major weakness she has was that she is not real Greens. She was never in environmentalists business.
Lee Rhiannon was member of Stalinist party and had close relations within the former Soviet notorious secret intelligence KGP (as later become much known).
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Lee and her family became not only politically orphaned. But they also lost the platform they fought for decades. They were lost. This is why she started looking for another platform and another career. And she found this within the Greens party.
When I joined the party in 2000, the party was so small that they were struggling to continue party registration every year. The membership was very little. So they were desperate for any political activists to join. This is why Lee was welcomed.
Soon, she was successful in building her own faction inside the Greens: faction of ex-Stalinists who lost platform after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The other powerful faction was the faction of true environmentalists lead by Ian Cohen in NSW (and Bob Brown federally and in Tasmania). Ian Cohen, conservative but deeply honest and environmental-principled activist, was the first Greens to win a seat in NSW Legislative Council. He was historical figure for Greens movement in NSW (and the country). He was unopposed leader of NSW Greens party, until Lee Rhiannon appeared and joined the party.
The other faction was faction of extreme Zionists based around Eastern suburbs in Sydney. They always advocated that the Greens should focus solely on environmental issues and avoid any action about other social justice issues.
Lee Rhiannon and upon her joining the Greens, and because of her lack of environmental credential and expertise, started immediately advocating social justice issues. She wanted to gain a spot in NSW Legislative Council. This is why she devised, adopted and advocated phenomena of “Affirmative Action” as form of positive discrimination action to increase the representation of “marginalised groups” in the society. And because she does not fit any true marginalised group, she convinced the party that the main marginalised group that is underrepresented in our decision making bodies are “the women”.
Her strategy was simple and clear. She is woman and she will be benefited from any positive discrimination act to promote women to the parliament. Her appeal was easy to convince the party. At the end of the day, it was a party with no deep understanding of any social justice issue. Party that focuses on environment, and lack any understanding of socio-economical inequalities and marginalisation.
As a champion of the newly introduced regulation in the constitution, Lee won nomination to lead the ticket of candidates for the 1999 NSW state election. And she won a seat in LC. Lee knows very well that despite the fact that she lead a campaign on social justice issues to win her nomination, she actually won her seat on environmental issues and she was elected by environmental voters. She won only around 2% of NSW voters.
Lee Rhiannon realised her weakness: Greens party was true environmental party with no commitments and no literature about social justice issues.
To survive this weakness and to build empire inside the party, she needed to destabilise the powerful environmental faction under the leadership of Ian Cohen. She could achieve small fraction of this by introducing to the party’s constitution the principle of “Affirmative Action”. That was tiny victory that did not affect the popularity of rival faction. On the contrary. The rival faction welcomed this amendment and embraced it quickly, especially that the women were already heavily represented inside the party at all level. The issue was just a platform for Lee to win prominence and exploit the amendment for her own agenda.
This is why she started to invent campaigns that mainly target rival factions within the Greens, instead of targeting the rival political parties.