|Leader of the Jacqui Lambie Network|
|Assumed office |
14 May 2015
|Preceded by||Party created|
|Senator for Tasmania|
|Assumed office |
1 July 2019
1 July 2014 – 14 November 2017
|Succeeded by||Steve Martin|
|Deputy Leader of the Palmer United Party in the Senate|
1 July 2014 – 19 November 2014
|Preceded by||Office established|
Jacquiline Louise Lambie
26 February 1971
Ulverstone, Tasmania, Australia
|Political party||Jacqui Lambie Network|
Independent (2012–13; 14–15)
Palmer United (2013–14)
(m. 1992; div. 2000)
|Education||Devonport High School|
|Allegiance||Commonwealth of Australia|
|Years of service||1989–2000|
|Unit||Transport Corps (1990–1995)|
Military Police (1995–2000)
Jacquiline Louise Lambie (born 26 February 1971), known as Jacqui Lambie, is an Australian politician who is the leader and founder of the Jacqui Lambie Network (JLN). She served as a Senator for Tasmania from 2014 to 2017, and again since 2019.
First elected as a member of the Palmer United Party (PUP), she received national prominence for her intense grassroots campaign and subsequently her display of aggressive and vociferous parliamentary behaviour, championing issues concerning foreign affairs, veterans' affairs, youth unemployment and the criticism of Islam. After persistent internal divisions, Lambie resigned from the PUP and sat as an independent before forming her own political party.
Lambie attended Devonport High School before joining the Australian Army in 1989. After basic training, she was assigned to the Royal Australian Corps of Transport in 1990. She remained with the Transport Corps for five years before being transferred to the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police, where she worked for another five years, achieving the rank of Corporal. Towards the conclusion of her military service, Lambie sustained a back injury during a field exercise, resulting in long-term detriments to her spine, and began receiving a military pension from the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA). She later applied for additional compensation on the grounds of claiming to suffer from depression, caused by her back pain. Following a private investigation, Lambie was accused of being a malingerer, and her pension was cancelled, prompting her to begin a six-year legal dispute with the DVA, beginning in 2000.
Attempting to seek Liberal preselection after joining the party in 2011, and previously working as a staff member of Labor senator Nick Sherry, Lambie joined the Palmer United Party (PUP), led by Australian billionaire Clive Palmer. She was elected to the Senate at the 2013 federal election. Her term began in July 2014. In November 2014, Lambie resigned from the Palmer United Party to sit in the Senate as an independent.
In May 2015, Lambie formed the Jacqui Lambie Network political party with herself leader. She was elected to a six-year term in her own right at the 2016 federal election (a double dissolution). In November 2017, she was revealed to hold Australian-British dual citizenship, having inherited the British one from her Scottish-born father. As part of the parliamentary eligibility crisis, she announced her resignation on 14 November 2017. After a recount, she was expected to be replaced by Devonport Mayor Steve Martin, who had been second on the JLN ticket in the 2016 federal election. He survived a challenge to his own eligibility, on a different constitutional ground, but refused to step down so as to create a casual Senate vacancy to which Lambie could be appointed. She expelled him from the party for disloyalty.
Lambie was born in the town of Ulverstone in north-western Tasmania. Her parents separated when she was 13, and she was raised in a public housing estate in Devonport, attending Devonport High School until she left at Year 11. She took a year off before deciding to apply to join the army, but fell pregnant with her first child shortly before her enlistment.
Military career, 1989–2000
Australian Army (1989–2000)
Lambie enlisted in the Australian Army in 1989, where she served for over ten years, first in the transport corps, and subsequently as a military policewoman. She held the rank of Corporal, which all military police are given on completion of training.
During a field exercise in July 1997, Lambie suffered injuries that resulted in severe back pain. After physiotherapy and medical interventions, she was unable to regain operational fitness and was discharged on medical grounds (thoracic pain) in 2000. She has since been an advocate for veterans with the Returned and Services League of Australia and involved in fundraising with the Burnie Chamber of Commerce, the Country Women's Association and Rotary.
Dispute with the Department of Veterans' Affairs (2000–2006)
The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) initially rejected her application for compensation, but subsequently approved it and put her on a military disability pension. She later applied for compensation for depression related to her back pain, which was also initially rejected. The DVA hired a private investigation firm to conduct five hours of surveillance on her activities within her home. On the basis of this surveillance, the department concluded that she was a malingerer, cancelling her military pension and coverage of her medical care.
Lambie fought the department's conclusion for five years, during which time she was accepted for a Centrelink disability pension. In 2006, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal was about to rule on whether the video evidence was admissible in her case when DVA abandoned its use of the video and accepted that Lambie was entitled to compensation. The tribunal's Deputy President, Justice Christopher Wright, concluded that "it is likely that even greater improvement would have been achieved a long time ago if her medical treatments, which were initially funded by the respondent, had not been terminated in 2001".
Political career, 2008–2017
Early political career (2008–2012)
In November 2011, she joined the Liberal Party of Australia and later decided to run for preselection for the Division of Braddon. However she subsequently left the Liberal Party, saying that the Liberals are a "boys' club", and she joined to "infiltrate" them to see what she could learn about politics.
In 2012, Lambie sold her house to help fund her run as an independent, before turning to the newly formed Palmer United Party founded by billionaire Clive Palmer – as she said "I just didn't have the money like the big players did for advertising."
Senate (2013–2017, 2019– )
In the 2013 federal election, Lambie won Tasmania's sixth Senate seat as a candidate for the Palmer United Party, receiving 6.58% of first preference votes. She has credited the final result of her win to "the big man upstairs" – referring not to Palmer, but to God: "Once it gets to that point, it's up to God upstairs. There's not much else I can do about it."
On 24 November 2014, Lambie resigned from the Palmer United Party, announcing that she would remain in the Senate as an independent. Lambie's resignation followed several weeks of disagreements with party leader Clive Palmer.
In April 2015, Lambie applied to register a political party called the Jacqui Lambie Network. In May 2015, the party was registered with the Australian Electoral Commission, with Lambie as its leader. She was re-elected to the Senate in the 2016 Australian federal election under the banner of her own party, the Jacqui Lambie Network.
On 14 November 2017, Lambie announced her resignation from the Senate, after revealing she held both British and Australian nationality, prohibited under Section 44 of the Australian Constitution. She stated in her resignation that she wished to return to federal politics, and that if Justine Keay was forced to resign from her seat of Braddon over her citizenship status, that she would consider running, but did not nominate for the 2018 Braddon by-election.
In 2018, the High Court ruled that Devonport Mayor Steve Martin would replace Lambie as Senator of Tasmania. Lambie expected Martin to immediately resign, which would have cleared the way for her to be appointed to fill the resulting casual vacancy and return to the Senate. She claimed that "personal morality" and loyalty dictated that Martin stand down. A party spokesman contended that Tasmanians intended for Lambie to hold the seat, and there was "an opportunity for that vote to be restored" if Martin resigned. When Martin refused to do so, Lambie expelled him from the party. In a letter to Martin, Lambie accused him of failing to uphold the JLN's values of "mateship, respect and integrity."
She was re-elected to the Senate in the 2019 Australian federal election. In the midst of the debate of the government bill Ensuring Integrity Bill in Parliament, Lambie threatened to vote for the bill if John Setka, the secretary of the Victorian branch of Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), did not resign as head of the branch. She even invited Setka over to her Tasmanian home for Sunday roast, in a bid to convince Setka to resign. She eventually voted against the bill after her amendments were rejected by the government.
Although Jacqui Lambie has no university degree, ""most days" she wishes she had." In 2020, Lambie opposed the Liberal Party's university reform bill due to her belief it would harm the mental health and economic opportunities of low-income students:
"These kids are already going to pay for this Covid-19 for the rest of their life and they want them to start paying basically for breakfast ... And yet I’ve got big business out there that don’t pay their tax, you know? So, go and pick on someone else, you leave those bloody students alone. I’ve already got enough of those disadvantaged kids out there, who are stuck in these housing commissions, and trying to break that cycle is very, very difficult."
Foreign policy and defence
In August 2014, Lambie expressed her belief that China could invade Australia: "If anybody thinks that we should have a national security and defence policy which ignores the threat of a Chinese Communist invasion – you're delusional and got rocks in your head ... The Communist Chinese military capacity and level of threat to the western world democracies is at an unprecedented and historical high." Her comments incurred a rebuke from the Premier of Tasmania Will Hodgman. She later added Indonesia as a potential military threat. Lambie has made comments suggesting her support for potential reintroduction of national service, stating "It's time to teach [our youth] some respect, loyalty and honour."
In October 2015 she declared her opposition to the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement, saying she considers the Chinese government to be "push[ing] totalitarian ideologies", "anti-democratic" and "a bully, thief, liar and international human rights abuser".
In October 2014, Lambie stated in a radio interview with ABC Radio National that she liked Vladimir Putin, saying: "I think he has very strong leadership. He has great values. He's certainly doing his bit to stamp out terrorism and I guess you've got to pay the man for that." In February 2015, Lambie called for the reintroduction of the death penalty for Australian citizens who leave the country to become foreign fighters.
In October 2016, she called for a pre-emptive pardon for any defence personnel accused of war crimes against the Taliban or Islamic State, on the grounds that Taliban and Islamic State fighters were not entitled to the protection of the rules of war or international human rights because of their "subhuman behaviour and vile, disgusting culture and ideology".
In September 2014, Lambie announced plans to introduce a private member's bill aimed at banning the burqa in Australia. However, constitutional expert Professor George Williams described the law as "unworkable, it would frankly be a bit silly". She also attacked supporters of Islamic sharia law, describing them as "maniacs and depraved humans" who will not stop committing "cold-blooded butchery and rapes until every woman in Australia wears a burka". However, when asked to explain her understanding of sharia law in an interview, she was unable to and instead said "it obviously involves terrorism". According to ABC political reporter Andrew Greene, some commentators described the interview as a "train wreck". In February 2017, she introduced a private member's bill which would amend the Criminal Code Act 1995 to make it illegal to wear full face coverings in public places when a terrorism threat declaration is in force, unless it was necessary for certain purposes.
In January 2017, she said that Australia should follow Donald Trump's lead in his order to restrict entry of citizens of certain Muslim-majority countries to the USA. She called for deporting from Australia all Muslims who supported Sharia law, as well as deporting everyone on the ASIO terror watch list, or at least charging them with treason or sedition.
In an interview with ABC News in 2018 Lambie distanced herself from her previous views on Sharia law, stating they were "divisive" and influenced by "a previous advisor that was really driving that in". Following her involvement in the TV show Go Back to Where You Came From in 2018 where she was placed in a Syrian warzone, Lambie shifted towards a pro-refugee stance, stating that "the discussion [about accepting more refugees] needs to be on the political table".
In October 2013 she criticised the Australian Greens, accusing them of having "destroyed all hope in Tasmania" and saying that the party should be subject to a Senate inquiry over the state's high unemployment rate. In July 2015 she likened The Greens to Islamic State in that "both those groups would like us to go back and live in the dark ages ... They'd like us to go live back in caves with candles and eat tofu."
In 2020, Lambie worked alongside the Greens in criticising a bill that would 'weaken' political donation laws.
Raising alleged abuse within the army
|2017||Have You Been Paying Attention?||Guest Quiz Master|
|2018||Tonightly with Tom Ballard|
|2018||Go Back to Where You Came From|
|2019||I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here||Contestant|
|2019||Hughesy, We Have a Problem||Celebrity Problem|
Lambie is single, with two children. She gave birth to her first son Brentyn at age 18 in 1989, the product of her relationship with a high school boyfriend, after her enlistment for the Army. She met John Milverton while working in the Royal Australian Corps of Transport. They began a de facto marriage, where Milverton formally adopted Brentyn, and also went on to have another son, Dylan, born in 1992. Milverton and Lambie separated shortly before her discharge from the Army in 2000. In August 2015, she went public with her 21-year-old son's battle with methamphetamine addiction. She has also stated that she was addicted to pain medication and attempted suicide once.
Lambie lives in the city of Burnie, on the North Coast of Tasmania. She has jokingly described her perfect man as having "heaps of cash" and "a package between their legs". Her comments were met with much ire, and she later declared it to be her most embarrassing moment.
In her first speech to Parliament in 2014, Lambie stated that, through her mother's family, she shares "blood, culture, and history" with Aboriginal Australians, as a descendant of Mannalargenna, an Aboriginal Tasmanian leader. She later provided a family tree to Australian Story claiming descent from Margaret Briggs, a granddaughter of Mannalargenna who married into the Hite family. In 2002, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal had ruled that descent from Margaret Briggs was sufficient to meet the Aboriginal ancestry requirements for ATSIC elections. However, Lambie's claims of Indigenous descent have been questioned by several sources including Australian Story, the Tasmanian Pioneer Index, and members of the Aboriginal community in Tasmania. Clyde Mansell, chairman of the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, stated they were "absolutely outrageous and scandalous". Another Tasmanian elder, Roy Maynard, said that "she's identified as Aboriginal, she’s got that right as far as I’m concerned", and criticised Mansell for doubting her claims. The Parliamentary Library of Australia includes Lambie on its list of Indigenous parliamentarians.
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