Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Meg Lees

Meg Lees is the one who had the conflict with Natasha Stott Despoja. My initial reaction is to dislike Lees.  Well, because I DO like Despoja. Is it possible for me to like both of them even though they don't like each other?

We shall see.

Lord Wiki says Meg Lees was born on 19 October 1948. She's about a month older than my mom.

Birthday Website Time!

Lees is a Libra and her numerology number is 6. I picture this to be the type of person who spends her childhood and teen years fantasizing about her future husband and children.

Was Lees like that? Maybe. Maybe not.

Lord Wiki must not know. He skips her childhood all together. No school information here. He says she was born in Sydney and trained as a teacher. So much information is missing! This is quite mysterious and makes me suspicious. I THINK she's an alien who crashed here in her flying saucer. Here's a case for you, Mulder and Scully.

Lord Wiki says she trained as a teacher, but he doesn't say she actually taught at any time. He says she moved to South Australia and joined the newly formed Australian Democrat party. This was in the early 1980's. By the late 1980's, she was the president of the South Australian branch. She was making her way up in the world.

In 1990, Lees was chosen to replace Janine Haines in the senate. Soon after that she became deputy leader. And seven years later, she became the actual leader instead of just the deputy one. Her deputy became our beloved Natasha Stott Despoja. What went wrong in their relationship? Did the conflict appear in the beginning or slowly seep in?

Okay. It seems some of the conflict was related to the GST. Howard was not backed by Labor and the Greens regarding this. He needed to be backed by the Democrats for it to pass. Lees agreed to this as long as essential items such as fruit fruit and medicine were excluded. Despoja disagreed and voted against what Lees wanted. What drama! I think I recall reading that the reason Despoja was against the GST is they made election promises regarding it. She didn't want to break any promises. I'm pretty sure it's more complex than that though.

What happened next?

There was questioning regarding Lee's leadership. People weren't happy with her. Despoja challenged Lees for the leadership role and she won. Lees wasn't happy; and when Despoja was leader, she did a lot of bitching. She complained Despoja was bringing the party too much to the left. I like when parties lean to the left. So, there!

Lees left the party in 2002 and became an independent. A little while later, she formed a party called Australian Progressive Alliance. It looks like this wasn't too successful. The party is no more. It seems basically Lees and her small group of followers were trying to form a party that was slightly more left than the Liberals and more right than the Democrats.

Despite their disappearance in Australian politics, the party still does have a website.

Okay. I'm now pretty sure I don't like Lees. On the party website, she says, Voters who want to keep the senate working have only one option--the Australian progressive Alliance. I don't like pushy marketing like that.  

This is the only parenting book you need!  

This is the one and only diet that works. 

Read this self-help book and you'll never need to buy another self-help book again.

 There is NOT one option, and obviously Meg Lee's option was not exactly a viable one.

Oh no! Just as I was feeling comfortable despising Lees and her stupid party, they had to have something on their website that appeals to me. They care about animal welfare--including farm animals. Crap. My heart is warming to the woman a bit.

The Sydney Morning Herald has an article about a biography of Lees. They talk about how her childhood was mysterious and she wants to keep it that way.

The Sydney Morning Herald looks different today, by the way. Did they change the format...or maybe it's just the particular article that looks different.

The article has stuff about her childhood--stuff that Lord Wiki missed. It involved strict religion and restrictions on interactions with other children. She escaped eventually, and I guess she doesn't want to look back.

In the interview, the mother of Lees defends herself. She sounds like a nice woman. I really don't know who to believe here. The mother could be pure evil and good at faking niceness.

The article says that the family was part of an end-of-the-world religious group, but eventually moved onto the Anglican church. If I'm reading the article right, it seems Lees was the first in the family to switch churches. She was thirteen and refused to go to the end-of-the-world one (Catholic Apostolic Church).

It's a bit confusing and I can't tell who's at fault here. I'll just say Lees family isn't the only one in which parents and particular offspring disagree about what occurred in the past. Are Lees parents denying the extreme strictness that she remembers--or is Meg Lees a foolish daughter who doesn't appreciate the love of her family? It's really hard to know the truth in these situations. Who is lying? Who is truthful? Who is delusional? Who's in touch with reality?

Besides that though, from what I read the childhood doesn't seem to be one of horrific abuse. It doesn't seem like the type of childhood you'd want to run away from and never speak about. I suspect MAYBE there's more to the story. Maybe there was abuse and Lees is angry about it, but not angry enough to ruin the reputation of her parents. Or maybe she knows her parents are good liars and people will never believe her over them.

Before going into teaching, Lees worked as a lab assistant. She was eventually told by Australian National Industries that she couldn't go far in the industry because she was a woman. And this is when she started training to be a teacher--specifically a physical education teacher.

She worked at Ingleburn High and met her husband there. It seems the two of them were into car racing.

They moved to Mount Gambier in South Australia; bought a farmhouse and had kids. It sounds quite lovely. Lees said having children made her more political.  Her husband had been political before that. This sounds exactly like me. I had absolutely no interest in politics until I had a baby. Then I started reading stuff about breastfeeding and maternity leave. I slowly became more and more interested. Tim has been very political since I've known him. I think he influenced me a bit too.

Speaking of maternity leave.....

Lees had problems with this while teaching. The principal of the Mount Gambier school refused to let her work part-time after she returned from having a baby. He said the only option was for her to work full-time. She looked into childcare and was not happy about leaving her children in one. She ended up resigning from the school. She found other places to work part-time.

This editorial criticizes Lees. It talks about a Telstra issue that I don't really understand. What I'm getting though is the author of the editorial feels Lees is resentful/jealous that she lost the leadership role to Despoja.

All right. This other article has information about the Telstra thing. I'm getting that it was government owned and there was then talk of selling it. Lees was against selling it and then she supported it. She said her reasons were environmental. I guess the idea was the government would use the proceeds from the sale for the environment.

I'm pretty sure Telstra is what we used for our Aussie cell phones. I didn't know it had such an exciting story behind it.

Well, I found something else to warm my cold heart towards Lees. She supports the use of midwives and choice in childbirth. She also comes down on hospital births--calling them intervention prone models. She complains about the high cesarean rates.

There's a lot about hospital births that greatly bother me. I definitely think women need better choices.

It doesn't end there. Lees also worked on one of my favorite issues...breastfeeding. She wanted legislation to be passed that would make discrimination against breastfeeding mothers illegal. Good on her! The article about that was from 2000. I wonder what the current laws are.

This SMH article from 2007 says that in NSW, disallowing a woman to breastfeed could bring you a $40,000 fine. Awesome!

I'm not sure how I feel about Lees. I don't completely dislike her. There are aspects of her that I do like--at least some of her views about mothering and parenting. My feeling is she's someone who's had a difficult life and therefore has some ongoing personality problems. She probably means well for the most part, but isn't the easiest person to get along with or like.

Note: something weird is going on with my blog. Via Statcounter, I came to realize that certain blogs say this entry links to their blog. I have no idea why. It's really weird. Is anything like that happening to anyone else?

The way I noticed it is I saw I was getting traffic from other blogs. I went to check out those blogs and at the posts-that-link to this post (at bottom near comments) it lists this post.