Jacqui Lambie made a name for herself in Australian politics, sometimes for the wrong reasons. She stormed into the senate as part of a new political party and soon afterwards left that party.
She added to her notoriety when she described her ideal man in an interview, in sexually straight forward terms.
She has also gained attention for some of her outspoken views on Sharia Law and the dress codes of Muslim women.
And yet despite the controversy and the teething problems experienced by someone new to politics, Lambie has an authenticity lacking in the career politicians making up the majority of places within the Australian parliament.
She was someone willing to put in the time to learn how to get things done, and was not afraid to confront difficult issues, especially those things she knew from personal experience.
Prior to entering politics Lambie had served in the Australian Army, until her medical discharge just short of ten years service. A back injury sustained during that time put an end to her military career and started a decade long struggle with bureaucracy to be awarded due compensation and ongoing help.
A large portion of her autobiography/memoir details that struggle and how it eventually led to her considering a political career – to fight for the rights of similar casualties of the military bureaucratic system.
The army is one big family, and you are trained to believe that your life depends on it. When you leave the army, you leave the family, and it is a process of bereavement. Why is leaving the army like mourning a death? You don’t belong to anything or anyone anymore.
Not only had she lost her career, but the very “family” she was required to leave seemed to fight against her afterwards, through the political institution that supposedly helped ex-servicemen and women to move on after their time of service ended.
The part of the book I had most difficulty with was a long section detailing her struggles with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, the majority of which consisted of copies of the ongoing correspondence between medical specialists, legal representatioves and the DVA.
I think that section would have been much more effective if it had been summarised by Lambie acorns a few pages, with the actual documentation being provided later as appendixes.
One of the other issues she addressed in the Senate was the very personal struggle she had with her younger son, revealing his addiction to ice in a one of her senate speeches. She wants to introduce the right for parents to enforce some kind of rehab upon drug affected children who are in no fit mental state to seek help for themselves.
Over time Lambie’s son did seek help. The source of that help was of particular interest to me. He turned to Teen Challenge, an organisation set up decades ago by well-known Christian minister David Wilkerson, subject of the 1960s book and 1970s film, The Cross and the Switchblade.
In the early 1980s I spent some time with Teen Challenge in the red light district of Sydney, reaching out to drug addicts and prostitutes. Later a friend and his family went to work fulltime at Teen Challenge’s rehabilitation centre in NSW.
Late last year Lambie lost her position in the Senate due to an archaic constitutional technicality after finding she had dual Australian, British citizenship through her Scottish father. That dual citizenship allegedly creates a conflict of national interest. She was one of several victims of that out-dated clause in a constitution created when Australians were still considered British citizens and there was no difference between being Australian and being British.
She intends to stand again at the next election, hoping to win back her seat in the Senate. I hope she does well.
Despite disagreeing with some of her views, I think Australia needs down to earth, motivated, every day people as representatives in all tiers of government, as opposed to “career politicians” who’ve never had a real job outside of the political system.
Details at the publisher’s website: