The mixed bag that is Jacqui Lambie

For those who don’t follow Australian politics, Jacqui Lambie was elected as a Senator for Tasmania at the 2013 federal election representing the Palmer United Party. Her term began in July 2014. On 24 November 2014, Lambie resigned from the Palmer United Party to sit in the Senate as an independent. She recently launched her own party, the Jacqui Lambie Network.

LambieAlthough Lambie doesn’t push the small govt political barrow I would prefer her to, I can’t help liking her. I thought about why that is, and I realised its her fearlessness that is her biggest asset, along with her nonconforming style of politics. Lambie is ex Army.

She 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 achieved the rank of corporal.

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.”

In October 2013 she criticised The 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.

Lambie has made comments suggesting her support for potential reintroduction of national service, stating- “Maybe it is time we placed national service back on the agenda but reconfigured to suit today’s conditions … It’s time to teach our youth some respect, loyalty and honour.”

She has also stated that she opposes gay marriage. “… where we are not prepared to compromise is the word ‘marriage’. We believe this sacred word is used for a commitment between a man and a woman … We are not prepared to compromise or question that of a higher power … the word marriage belongs to Australian grassroots, morals and those of the church.”

In August 2014, she 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.

In February 2015, Lambie called for the reintroduction of the death penalty in Australia for citizens who leave the country to become foreign fighters- “What I want to know is why haven’t these extraordinary charges been laid against terrorism supporters… If they’re going to be serious, Australia should bring back the death penalty for those found guilty of treason.”

Last week Senator Lambie renewed her calls to halve Australia’s foreign aid budget. The Australian Council for International Development has written to the senator, offering to help her become more informed about Australia’s aid spending.

But Senator Lambie said she would not accept the invitation. “I make no apology for putting poor Tasmanians and Australians first,” she said, and “The invitation I’ll be accepting first and foremost is the invitation that sends me out to the backstreets of our own backyard,” she said. “To see kids in their sleeping bags, mothers that are homeless with their kids, and pensioners that can’t afford to put food on their table. They are first and foremost in my mind.”

The council’s executive director Marc Purcell said her views were out of touch with her electorate.

Well, the jury is still out on whose actually out of touch. I’ve read the objectives of the Jacqui Lambie Network, and I find the party appears to lack a basic political philosophy. Nevertheless I’d rather see the fearless Jacqui in the house than many of the current bunch of lame sycophantic troughers. Good luck to her.