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Monday, 4 July 2011
Page: 7424

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (21:51): As we all know, today in the other chamber we had the swearing in of half of the Senate, those senators elected at the last election. Of course, in political terms, it is significant in a number of respects. It is right and approp­riate in a democracy such as ours that there is a healthy focus on those who are taking their Senate seats, those newly sworn in as senators from today, what they stand for, what their political beliefs are and what their political backgrounds are.

In the case of one senator, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, there are some things that are crystal clear and some things that are not. What is crystal clear is that Senator Rhiannon is a hostile opponent of the state of Israel. At every opportunity Senator Rhiannon attacks and criticises the state of Israel, a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, yet does not seem ever to find the time to hold Israel's opponents to account to any level. Most recently, of course, the senator supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel. On this point even Senator Bob Brown publicly distanced himself from Senator Rhiannon's hyper anti-Israel position on this occasion. The fact that that intervention was needed really does highlight the extremism of new Greens Senator Rhiannon. In response, Senator Lee Rhiannon, we read in today's Australian, has completely snubbed Senator Brown, the leader of the Australian Greens.

Whilst Senator Rhiannon is crystal clear about her hatred of the state of Israel, she is at the same time quite blurry about her past political involvements. Indeed, as we read in the Weekend Australian, she flatly refused to discuss her political past with that news­paper, and it is becoming very obvious why. Senator Rhiannon was, as has been pointed out in this House and extensively in the Australian, a member of the Socialist Party of Australia. The party was, to quote the Weekend Australian:

… a communist faction that stayed loyal to Moscow in the early 1970s after the Communist Party of Australia split over its response to the Soviet Union's brutal suppression of the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia in 1968.

As was pointed out, Senator Rhiannon was a Soviet Union propagandist, not just for a couple of years as a young student but over many, many years, until she was nearly 40 years of age. In fact, she was the editor of the magazine Survey, apparently funded from Moscow. Indeed, she was the editor at its demise in 1990, under her then married name Lee O'Gorman.

That was, as everyone in this House would appreciate, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Just imagine it, Mr Deputy Speaker: all of us here—Liberal, National, Labor—rejoicing that the Berlin Wall had come down and presumably Senator Lee Rhiannon, back then, crying tears of anguish at the collapse of communist rule. You can only imagine what she would have done had she been over there on the East German-West German border. Presu­mably she would have had a wheelbarrow full of mortar trying to rebuild the Berlin Wall brick by brick to preserve the awful communist experiment.

What is also interesting is that Senator Rhiannon's editorship and the end of Soviet propaganda magazine Survey seemed to intercept and overlap with her joining the Australian Greens, which, as has been pointed out in this House and other places, she said she has been committed to for 20 years. So we are to assume that she either simultaneously supported Soviet propaganda and the Greens or went to bed one night dreaming of a rebirth of the Soviet Union only to wake up suddenly a Green. Most of us suspect that nothing has really changed; that the possum has simply shifted roof cavities, because if Senator Rhiannon had changed she would apologise, wouldn't she, to the families of the victims of communism, as the member for Melbourne Ports has rightly pointed out? She would renounce her former stance. But she does not. She ducks and weaves at every opportunity.

In conclusion, I seek leave to table an extract from the very last edition of Survey magazine, July-August 1990, under Lee O'Gorman, editor.

Leave not granted.