POLITICS

NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon Suspended From Party Room

The Greens have temporarily excluded Rhiannon from party negotiations.

28/06/2017 8:01 PM AEST | Updated 28/06/2017 8:04 PM AEST

New South Wales Greens senator Lee Rhiannon has been temporarily suspended from the Australian Greens party room on Wednesday amid an internal party conflict over the Gonski school funding debate.

Tasmanian Greens Senator and Acting Party Whip Nick McKim said in a statement the Australian Greens party room met to address "a structural issue" on two fronts.

"The Australian Greens Party Room request that National Council work with Greens NSW to end the practice of NSW MPs being bound to vote against the decision of the Australian Greens Party Room," the statement said.

"[Also] that NSW Senators be excluded from Party Room discussions and decisions on contentious government legislation, including within their portfolio responsibilities, until these issues are resolved."

While the first request was supported by all Greens members except for Rhiannon, the second was supported by all members, excluding Rhiannon and Melbourne Greens MP Adam Bandt.

"To function as a national party room, and to be a genuine alternative to politics as usual, we need to have faith and trust in our processes," McKim said in the statement.

"We remain committed to working together to achieve progressive political outcomes for all."

Rhiannon's suspension comes as a result of an internal stoush over the Gonski school funding debate on Monday and her controversial stance on the government's education package.

While the Greens were debating among themselves as to whether they would support the Coalition government's Gonski reforms, flyers criticising the Government's plan -- and bearing the authorisation of Rhiannon -- began appearing in letterboxes across Sydney

While the Greens ultimately opposed the Government's proposed reforms, the flyers were seen by party members as a move that "breached the faith of the party". The other nine parliamentary members of the Greens, eight senators and MP Adam Bandt, then co-signed a letter to the party's national council slamming the NSW senator, saying they were "disappointed" and "astounded" at her actions.

At the time of the letter and the media coverage of the internal party conflict, Rhiannon publicly defended her actions and denied breaching the faith of the Australian Greens party room.

"At all times my actions on education have been faithful to Greens policy and process. My work did not impact on the Greens negotiations with the Government," she wrote in a long Facebook post on Saturday.

"It was the Turnbull government's decision to do a deal with the crossbench senators that killed off negotiations with the Greens. I had no role in that.

"The leaflets about the bill that I authorised were a good initiative of Greens local groups. They highlighted the negative impact the Turnbull funding plan would have on their local public schools."


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