From the Senator for Victoria: Janet Rice

By Janet Rice


I’ve been a Senator now for seven years. All that time has been under Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison conservative governments, and their agenda of increasing inequality and increasing attacks on nature and our future.

It makes me  angry to see the damage they have wreaked upon Australia and the world in that time. And the pandemic has shown how time and time again the Morrison government is willing to put the interests of billionaires and their corporate mates ahead of the safety and well-being of the community and our shared future.

But I’m still positive about my work and that’s because of you. I know there is a massive community of support for our Greens agenda of sustainability and justice. 

It’s a privilege to be your voice in the parliament, and to be using my power as a campaigner as well as a legislator to be working for you and our shared future.

My amazing staff team and I developed a mission statement for our work earlier this year that reflects this connection between our work in the parliament and with the community. It states: 

We’re a team of allies and advocates working in the parliament, the community and the progressive movement. We foster and nurture hope and compassion in order to build a more just and connected world. We shift ideas of what’s possible, and work together for the changes we need to see.

Here are some highlights aligned with this mission that we have focussed on this year.

Sports Rorts and more

What a year for rorts. We kicked off 2020 with Sports Rorts and found clear evidence that the Prime Minister’s Office was aware of and involved in making decisions on which sporting club projects would be funded - and that these decisions weren’t based on merit but on trying to buy votes in marginal and targeted seats.

Through a Senate Select Committee we extracted crucial details, including that key incriminating documents were prepared specifically for a meeting between Bridget McKenzie and the Prime Minister; and that the rort funding increased significantly after that meeting. What was also clear from the Inquiry was that these rorts weren’t restricted to funding for community sports facilities.

A new auditor general's report has now been released that shows the same type of rorting and involvement from the Prime Minister's office in the allocation of funds under the Urban Congestion Fund:  #carparkcorruption. As Transport spokesperson I’m going to be dogged about holding the government to account on this one too.

Foreign affairs

It’s been a privilege this year to take on the foreign affairs portfolio. A particular focus has been on fighting for human rights around the world, including in China, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Israel-Palestine, the Philippines, West Papua and a range of other countries. We’ve also kept up the pressure on the Australian Government’s refusal to introduce a Magnitsky-style targeted sanctions framework, that could target serious human rights abusers around the world. I’ve also worked to amplify the voices of diaspora communities here in Australia who are raising human rights concerns around the world, through speeches in Parliament, letters to the Foreign Minister, and public statements. 

Clean, green transport

While the rest of the world has sped ahead on electric vehicles, the Liberal Party is desperately stalling for time, to help out its donors in the fossil fuel industry. Through scrutinising subsidies to fossil fuel producers, and fighting against unfair taxes on electric vehicles at the state level, we’ve kept the pressure on to fight for cleaner, greener transport. That includes electric vehicles, and also fighting for more funding for active transport including bike paths and walking tracks, and pushing for more funding for public transport. We’ve also pushed the government on the need to transition the whole transport sector to net zero pollution as urgently as possible. 

Equality is not negotiable

As a queer woman, I am proud to continue to stand up for the rights of the LGBTIQA+ community.
In the current Parliament, with One Nation in the balance of power, I’ve worked hard to call out their transphobia and bigotry; tragically, all too often it has been supported by the Liberal and National parties. We highlighted the government’s broken promises about ending discrimination in schools, and removing barriers to all LGBTIQA+ people who want to donate blood. 

Fighting for our forests

Over the last year  I’ve worked with community campaigners across the country in trying to protect our precious native forests, from the Central Highlands and East Gippsland forests in Victoria, to takayna in Tasmania, and forests in southern and Northern NSW that are critical to the survival of koalas.

With Liberal National and Labor governments at both federal and state levels continuing to subsidise and support this destruction it's only us Greens in the parliament who are speaking up for our forests and their wildlife. This has been particularly heartbreaking given the 2019-20 summer fires where over three billion animals were killed. We’ve fought attempts to weaken our environmental laws even further, and continued our push to scrap our failed logging laws, the Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs).

One positive development this year was the recognition by Professor Graeme Samuel in his review of our federal environment legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, that the RFAs are failing to protect our forests and their threatened animals and plants.  But the government isn’t listening, even to their own government appointed reviewer. 

We can protect our forests through more and more people taking action together. People power  can kick out the Morrison Government and give the Greens shared power in an incoming government so we can use that power to push the government further and faster on ending native forest logging.


‹ Greens 2021 Annual Reports