Rhiannon was caught after listing her electorate office phone number on a federal campaign related media release but insiders say that her misuse of taxpayer resources is far broader than that. A Labor MP recently had to resign from Parliament and faces prosecution after being accused of misusing her office resources to assist her election campaign. The Greens party now faces the same crisis.
As the lead Senate candidate for the Greens party in the biggest Australian state, Rhiannon is a key member of Senator Bob Brownâ€™s team heâ€™s presenting as a clean alternative to big, bad nasty political parties.
Rhiannon has been a vocal critic of sleaze and impropriety in other parties, regularly accusing both Labor and Liberal of corruption.
BABY BOOMERS WONâ€™T LET GO
Like Brown, she is one of the old Greens party militants, nearly sixty years old, there are a number of Greens insiders who believe she needed to be moved on and should never have been preselected for the Senate. Its predominantly young membership donâ€™t mind Bob Brown but are hoping NSW MPs Ian Cohen (who recently escaped a domestic assault conviction after charges were dropped) and Rhiannon move on to allow for generational change in the Greens.
One scathing internal critic told VEXNEWS – on condition of anonymity – that there are many party members who want her punted:
“Lee is too old. She should have been put out to pasture but she hasÂ threatened to take people down with her. Her mother was a StalinistÂ member of the CPA (Communist Party of Australia) … like mother, like daughter as they say”
This inter-generational tension recently played out in the fierce preselection battle for the lower house seat of Marrickville where old timer and grouchy rich lady Sylvia Hale was rolled by the young councillor Fiona Byrne by one vote. Hale reportedly made many threats and unpleasant grunting noises during the process.
GO NOW SAYS NERVOUS BOB
Brown told journalists that he wanted Rhiannon to quit the upper house state seat sheâ€™s got in order to focus on the Senate campaign in light of the corruption allegations against her:
“I think she would be – and I’ve said this to Lee – very wise with Labor and Liberal on the prowl on issues like this… to clear the decks and get into the Senate campaign,” he said.
â€œLee has apologised for itâ€¦yes, that is an admission [that she did the wrong thing]. If there were more politicians prepared to admit to such mistakes we would all be a lot better off.â€™â€™
She has defied her federal leaderâ€™s call to hand over to her already preselected successor Cate Faehrmann. When asked whether she should immediately resign to make this transition, Brown said:
â€œI think she shouldâ€¦â€
Rhiannon is having none of it, insisting that the public revelations that she was misusing NSW taxpayer resources on her campaign was purely the result of a typographical error.
Greens party sources tell VEXNEWS Rhiannon had no plans to resign because she needs the salary. Polls suggest the Greens could win the last Senate spot but it is always close, with the extremist anti-Israel fanatic Kerry Nettle losing out in 2007. â€œItâ€™s a marginal seat and Rhiannon is being asked to quit her safe seat for a chance at winning the marginal seat, without pay, she has previously said sheâ€™ll go when the federal election is called and no earlier, her term expires in 2015 and sheâ€™s already giving that upâ€ an insider explained.
Brown hinted that Rhiannon had agreed to resign although she appears to have reneged on any such arrangement, telling her Twitter followers:
I’m not about to resign over a few typos. This story is an ALP beat up.
Both Labor and the Liberal opposition have called on her to resign. Political insiders say thereâ€™s every chance Rhiannon could be referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption for a full investigation of her staff and use of other office resources to campaign for the Senate position.