For over five decades, Lee Rhiannon has been well known for her environmental and social justice activism. Her first political involvement was against the Vietnam War and in support of the movement to end Apartheid in South Africa. In the early 1970s she was arrested at a Sydney protest against a tour by the Springboks, the South African rugby team. Lee has worked for a number of unions.
In the 1970s Lee studied and tutored at the University of New South Wales, majoring in zoology and botany with honours in botany. She was a research assistant and tutor at Macquarie University in ecology. In the 1980s she worked as a freelance journalist and was active in the peace, environmental, workers’ rights and women’s movements. Over the course of her career, she served as a member of the NSW government’s Women’s Advisory Council, NSW Secretary of the Union of Australian Women, a Founding Director of AID/WATCH and Director of Gun Control Australia.
Lee was a Greens NSW MP from 1999-2010. She forged strong links for the Greens with unions and community organisations during this time. One of Lee’s signature campaigns focused on cleaning up the corrupting influence of political donations. Her Democracy4Sale project exposed numerous political donation scandals. This work led to NSW being the first state to adopt strict limits on political donations. While Lee was a state MP she was arrested defending urban bushland.
After stepping down from the NSW Parliament in 2010, Lee was elected to the Australian Senate. She represented the voice of communities in the Senate speaking up for public ownership, creating sustainable jobs for workers in coal impacted communities, for a national anti corruption watch dog and political donation reform, and many other causes. While Lee was a Senator she was arrested along with a number of community activists working to protect heritage sites at Windsor.
While in the NSW and federal parliaments Lee successfully negotiated reforms to NSW Upper House election method and Senate voting that ended the group voting ticket rorts and enabled voters to determine their own preferences.
Lee resigned from federal parliament in August 2018. She continues to be involved with a range of political campaigns and the Greens. She works closely with Palestinians, Kashmiris, Kurds and other communities struggling for self-determination, peace and justice in their home countries.
Lee is particularly committed to sharing with others the skills she has gathered over five decades of campaigning.
Lee’s contact details can be found under the “Contact” section of this website.
In 2011 Suellen Murray wrote a chapter on Lee for the book “Founders, Firsts and Feminists”.
Abstract from the chapter “Lee Rhiannon: A Lifetime of Political Activism
“For over 40 years, Lee Rhiannon has been active in Australian politics. She was a leader of numerous social movement campaigns before becoming a Greens member of parliament in the New South Wales upper house in 1999 and then winning a seat in the Australian Senate, which she will take up in July 2011. Rhiannon has been a strong advocate for a range of environmental and social justice issues, and continues to support political processes that promote participatory democracy.
Selection of Lee’s videos
Produced in response to requests from community groups; about some parliamentary issues and various campaigns.
Global demand calling on Turkey to implement 2019 cease fire agreement and stop ethnic cleansing targeting Kurds – July 2022
Press conference in support of Teesta Setalwad, Mohamed Zubair and all of India’s political prisoners with Rajmohan Gandhi and Noam Chomsky – July 2022
Interview about work on International Observers Mission, monitoring Philippine election – June 2022
Statement in support of Kashmiri women to mark International Women’s Day – March 2022
Statement in support Free Abdullah Ocalan campaign – February 2021
Justice for three Kurdish women activists murdered in Paris in 2013 by agents of the Turkish state – January 2021
Support for global online protests against Duterte’s state terror – September 2020
First anniversary of Indian total takeover – Stand With Kashmir – July 2020
Genocide attack on Tamils – May 2020
“Jai Hind” salute to an India that is fair and just to all in these Covid times – May 2020
Action to end unjust wars – May 2020
Protest at international mining conference – October 2019
Back staff/student opposition to UNSW trimester plan – June 2019
Lee speaks about her mother, Freda Brown – October 2018
Chatloop – support for refugees – October 2018
Lee Rhiannon’s valedictory speech – August 2018
Greens and meat workers call to end live exports – May 2018
National Day of Action for Higher Education – March 2018
Protect kangaroos – Senate – February 2018
Liberals use loopholes to pocket developer donations – November 2017
Climate action – stop Adani coalmine campaign – November 2017
Support First Nations – time to reassess Australia’s history – September 2017
Greens support right of return for all Palestinians – May 2017
Release all Palestinian political prisoners – May 2017
About Lee and why she is a Greens MP – October 2016