Ronan Lee

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Ronan Lee
Ronanlee.jpg
Member of the Queensland Parliament for Indooroopilly
In office
17 February 2001 – 21 March 2009
Preceded by Denver Beanland
Succeeded by Scott Emerson
Personal details
Born 4 January 1976
Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland
Nationality Irish, Australian
Political party Labor (2001-08)
Greens (2008-09)

Ronan Lee (born 4 January 1976) is an Irish-Australian political advisor and former Greens member of the Queensland State Parliament. Lee represented the seat of Indooroopilly since he was first elected as an Australian Labor Party member in 2001. Lee joined the Queensland Greens in 2008 citing the Bligh Government's inaction on climate change and environment protection.[1] Since leaving Parliament in 2009 Lee has lived in Tasmania and Melbourne, run his communications and lobbying business and traveled extensively in Myanmar (Burma).

Lee was educated at St Patrick's College, Cavan, St Columban's College, Brisbane and the University of Queensland where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.[2] Lee has a Master of International Relations from Monash University, writing a thesis titled ‘A Politician, Not an Icon. Aung San Suu Kyi’s silence on Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya’.

Environment activism[edit]

Lee has been involved with environment causes since his youth and is best known for his involvement with The Wilderness Society who welcomed his decision to join the Greens.[3] During his time in Parliament Lee campaigned to end broadscale land clearing in Queensland a practice often involving dragging a heavy chain strung between two bull dozers to remove every tree and which destroyed contributing to Queensland having the sixth highest rate of land clearing in the world. A ban on most clearing in Queensland came into force in January 2007.[4]

Following the success of the tree clearing campaign Lee shifted focus with a campaign to protect Queensland's remaining wild rivers, the environment issue for which he has been most closely associated.[5] Sponsoring Parliamentary ePetitions and working with peak environment groups again including The Wilderness Society, the Wildlife Protection Society of Queensland and Queensland Conservation to promote grassroots campaigns and lobbying of MPs and bureaucrats. Queensland's Wild Rivers Act was passed in 2005 with the first "wild river declarations" in 2007 with protection for Gulf of Carpentaria river systems Settlement Creek, Morning Inlet, and the Gregory and Staaten Rivers, and the waterways of Fraser and Hinchinbrook Islands. Since then the Queensland Government protected river systems on Cape York Peninsula - the Archer, Stewart and Lockhart River Basins and the Wenlock River.[6]

Lee is opposed to nuclear power and as a Labor MP Lee campaigned against nuclear power and uranium mining. As a Green MP Lee introduced two private member's Bills to Parliament aiming to permanently ban uranium mining and uranium exploration. Both bills received their first reading in parliament but lapsed once the 2009 Queensland election was announced and the parliament dissolved.[7]

Parliamentary career[edit]

In 2001, Lee obtained preselection for the seat of Indooroopilly and surprised many by defeating former Queensland Liberal Leader Denver Beanland in the state elections that year. The surprise result was mainly due to two factors: the huge margin that re-elected the Beattie Labor Government and the strong grass-roots campaign employed by Lee.

In 2004, Lee was re-elected to his seat. In 2006, he won a third parliamentary term when he defeated the Liberal Party's Peter Turner. Once again, Green preferences were crucial to Lee securing his seat.

Parliamentary Secretary[edit]

Following the 2006 election Premier Peter Beattie appointed Lee Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communities, Disability Services, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Seniors and Youth.[8] Lee's main focus was on youth policy arguing for a greater role for young people in government decision making and in favour of improved public transport services at night and on weekends.

With Beattie's retirement in 2007, Premier Bligh appointed Lee Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Main Roads and Local Government.[9] In this role Lee advocated for greatly increased spending on bikeways and public transport, proposing a dramatic expansion of Brisbane's CityCat ferry fleet and a new rail line to Brisbane's western suburbs. Funding for these projects he argued should come at the expense of new highway construction.[10][11]

In 2008 Bligh moved Lee to the newly created role of Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister Assisting the Premier in Western Queensland where he was to focus on consumer protection and organising the state's No Interest Loans Scheme for low income earners. In this role Lee was critical of broad reach of the State's anti-public nuisance laws which he said contributed to the controversial and violent arrest of a homeless pensioner.[12]

Defection to the Greens[edit]

In 2008 he surprised everyone by announcing that he had resigned from the ALP and was going to contest Indooroopilly as the endorsed candidate for the Greens.

Despite his long-term environment activism Lee was labelled a strange fit by some political commentators [13] for the Greens as a result of his social conservative views on abortion and the use of embryonic stem cells in research.[14][15][16] The Greens policy favours reproductive freedom and embryonic stem cell research but representatives often cite conscience reasons to exercise a free vote.[17] However, Lee used his shift to the Greens to become one of the state's first MPs to publicly back gay marriage.[18]

Lee subsequently lost the seat of Indooroopilly to the Liberal National Party's Scott Emerson at the March 21, 2009 election with Emerson taking 44.45 per cent of the vote; the ALP's Sarah Warner 26.54 per cent; and Lee 25.93 per cent.[19] Despite Lee's defection a "sweetheart preference deal" was developed with the Queensland Labor Party,[20] under which Labor preferences were supposed to be delivered to Lee in return for Greens' preferences in 14 key Labor seats. For Lee, this failed to gain any electoral ground as Labor beat him on the primary vote. Therefore Labor's preferences were not distributed.

Myanmar (Burma)[edit]

Lee has traveled extensively in Asia and has a particular interest in the politics of Myanmar. He was one of the few westerners to experience Myanmar’s 2010 elections and met Aung San Suu Kyi shortly after her release from house arrest.[21] He is currently researching the situation involving the Muslim Rohingya people in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine and tweeted the cover of his Masters of International Relations thesis ‘A Politician, Not an Icon. Aung San Suu Kyi’s silence on Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya’.[22]

Other[edit]

Lee is well known for his advocacy of public and active transport such as light rail, walking and cycling. He was in support of people eating less meat because of the environmental impacts associated with this.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lion, Patrick; Wardill, Steven (6 October 2008). "Blow to Anna Bligh as Ronan Lee quits Labor for Greens". Retrieved 6 October 2008. 
  2. ^ "Members of the 52nd Parliament" (PDF). Queensland Parliamentary Record 2006-2009: The 52nd Parliament. Queensland Parliament. p. 43. 
  3. ^ "Wilderness Society welcomes the greening of the Queensland parliament". The Wilderness Society (QLD). The Wilderness Society Australia. 5 October 2008. 
  4. ^ "Land Clearing in Queensland". The Wilderness Society (QLD). The Wilderness Society Australia. 18 February 2011. 
  5. ^ "Let all Queensland's wild rivers run". Wildlife Queensland. Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. March 2005. 
  6. ^ "Queensland's Wild Rivers". The Wilderness Society (QLD). The Wilderness Society Australia. 22 September 2010. 
  7. ^ Odgers, Rosemary; Barbeler, David (10 October 2008). "Greens MP Ronan Lee in bid to ban uranium". Courier Mail (News Queensland). 
  8. ^ "Parliamentary Secretaries" (PDF). Queensland Parliamentary Record 2006-2009: The 52nd Parliament. Queensland Parliament. p. 118. 
  9. ^ "Parliamentary Secretaries" (PDF). Queensland Parliamentary Record 2006-2009: The 52nd Parliament. Queensland Parliament. p. 119. 
  10. ^ Moore, Tony (8 April 2008). "Send CityCats to western suburbs: MP". Brisbane Times (Fairfax Media). 
  11. ^ Moore, Tony (9 April 2008). "Rail link for western bottleneck?". Brisbane Times (Fairfax Media). 
  12. ^ McCutcheon, Peter (30 June 2008). "QLD public nuisance laws under fire". The 7.30 Report. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 
  13. ^ Keane, Bernard (6 October 2008). "Ronan Lee and the Greens, strange bedfellows indeed". Crikey. Retrieved 29 October. 
  14. ^ Queensland Parliamentary Debates, Legislative Assembly, 21 February 2002, p. 320
  15. ^ Queensland Parliamentary Debates, Legislative Assembly, 11 March 2003, p. 447
  16. ^ Queensland Parliamentary Debates, Legislative Assembly, 10 October 2007, pp. 3420-3422
  17. ^ http://greens.org.au/sites/greens.org.au/files/Nat_Member_HBookDL_web_1.pdf[dead link]
  18. ^ http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/lee-push-to-ban-uranium/story-e6freoof-1111117719059
  19. ^ "2009 State General Election - Indooroopilly - District Summary". Electoral Commission Queensland. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  20. ^ Wardill, Steven (12 March 2009). "Sweetheart deal to support the Greens' Ronan Lee". Courier Mail (News Queensland). Retrieved 14 March 2010. 
  21. ^ "Day I met Aung San Suu Kyi". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  22. ^ https://twitter.com/Ronan_Lee

External links[edit]