Abbott Announces Medicare Plus Deal With Senate Independents

The Health Minister, Tony Abbott, has secured passage of his MedicarePlus package through the Senate, following a deal with four senators.

The deal with Senators Brian Harradine, Len Harris (One Nation), Shayne Murphy (ex-ALP) and Meg Lees (ex-Democrats) gives the government the 4 additional votes it needs to pass the legislation 39-37.

Amongst other measures, the deal involves a reduction in the level of the annual threshold for concession card holders. It also provides for incentives for bulk-billing doctors in non-metropolian areas and Tasmania. Harradine and Murphy both represent Tasmania.

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Text of a media release from the Minister for Health and Ageing, Tony Abbott.

MedicarePlus

The Government has agreed with Senators Harradine, Harris, Lees and Murphy to further improve MedicarePlus. Australians will have a better health system thanks to the Senators’ insights and persistence. [Read more...]


Meg Lees Under Attack By Democrats; Senate Numbers At Stake

Senator Meg LeesThe former leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Meg Lees, is embroiled in a bitter dispute over the leadership of Natasha Stott Despoja that threatens to split the party and hand the Howard Government the chance of passing its contentious privatisation of Telstra legislation.

At a meeting of the Australian Democrats’ National Management Committee on June 5, a motion was carried requesting Lees attend a meeting of the National Executive on June 22-23 to “address issues of her comments on the sale of Telstra and perceptions of disunity in the Party”. Another motion described “perceptions of disunity and unreliability” in relation to comments Lees made about Telstra. [Read more...]


Democrats’ National Management Committee Minutes

These are the minutes of a meeting of the National Management Committee of the Australian Democrats, held on June 5, that requested Senator Meg Lees to appear before the Committee to discuss her public statements on the privatisation of Telstra.

The minutes were first published on crikey.com.au.

Democrats' Minutes


Democrats Demand Loyalty From Lees

This is the letter sent to Senator Meg Lees from the Acting President of the Australian Democrats, Liz Oss-Emer, on June 10, demanding that Lees explain her public statements on the sale of Telstra and asking that she “commit to fully supporting the elected leadership of the Party”.

The letter was first published on crikey.com.au. [Read more...]


Meg Lees’ Letter To Democrats National President

This is the text of a letter from Senator Meg Lees, former leader of the Australian Democrats, to the National President of the party, Liz Oss-Emer.

It is in response to a demand that she appear before the National Executive. The letter was first published on crikey.com.au.

Ms Liz Oss-Emer
National President
Australian Democrats

Dear Liz

First, let me formally congratulate you on your election as National President and I wish you well. There is much to be done because National Executive is critical to the development and expansion of our party.

In response to your letter of the 10th June 2002, thank you for inviting me to attend National Executive. However, I cannot as I have several long-standing engagements. I therefore accept your invitation to respond in writing and ask that you table the material I have provided for all members of National Executive. [Read more...]


Stott Despoja Defeats Lees To Take Democrats Leadership; Youngest Ever Party Leader In Australia

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja has been elected as the new leader of the Australian Democrats.

DemocratsThe 31-year-old Senator becomes the youngest person ever to lead a major political grouping in Australia.

Stott Despoja defeated Senator Meg Lees who has led the party since 1997, after the former leader, Cheryl Kernot, defected to the Labor Party.

Senator Aden Ridgeway has been elected as the new deputy leader.

In a ballot of Australian Democrats’ members, Stott Despoja polled a majority of the vote. The Australian Democrats is unique because it allows ordinary party members to elect the parliamentary leadership. Approximately 3000 members of the party were eligible to vote. It is believed that about 2500 members cast a vote.

Senator Stott Despoja becomes the seventh person to lead the Australian Democrats since its formation in 1977. She is the fourth leader from South Australia. [Read more...]


Democrats’ Leadership Contest Causing Bitterness

The battle between Australian Democrats Leader, Senator Meg Lees, and her challenger, Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja, has grown increasingly bitter following an intervention by the party’s founder.

Former Senator Don Chipp, who founded the party in 1977 and served as its leader until 1986, on Sunday called for the Democrats’ membership to elect the 31-year-old South Australian senator.

Chipp claimed that it was possible that One Nation might control the balance of power in the Senate after this year’s federal election. He argued that this could only be resisted by a revitalised Australian Democrats led by Stott-Despoja.

Lees must go, Chipp argued, to save her party and to save Australia. [Read more...]