Sector pays tribute to Greens senator Rachel Siewert
30 August 2021 at 5:20 pm
The Western Australian senator will retire from politics at the next federal election after 16 years of service
Social sector leaders are paying tribute to Rachel Siewert, whose time in politics has been marked by her fierce social justice campaigns and advocacy for the charities sector.
The senator, who was first elected in 2004, delivered her final speech to the Senate on Wednesday.
She led a number of campaigns advocating for the rights of people on welfare, opposing the expansion of the cashless welfare program, fighting for the Charities Act in 2013, and more recently speaking against the proposed changes to Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission governance standard 3.
As the chair of the Community Affairs References Committee, she was one of the first MP’s to raise the alarm on robodebt, a scheme later found to be unlawful, and was a strong voice in calling for the inquiry into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability.
In a statement, Siewert said that the “work was never over”, but that it was time for someone else to take the reins.
“It is clear that the Greens are needed more than ever in Parliament and in the community, but it is time for someone else to continue our vital work in this role,” Siewert said.
The Australian Council for Social Services described Siewert as a “stalwart supporter” of people on the lowest incomes, as well as a tireless advocate for the self-determination and justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the equality and human rights for all.
“She leaves the Australian Federal Parliament with a widely respected reputation of diligence, hard work, deep expertise and dedication to her extensive responsibilities,” an ACOSS spokesperson said.
“We congratulate Senator Siewert for her 16 years of service and extend our deep gratitude for all she has done to protect and promote the rights of people less powerful in society and her commitment to supporting their voices to be heard.”
David Crosbie, the CEO of Community Council for Australia, told Pro Bono News that Siewert would be missed in the Senate for her tireless work championing many issues the sector worked on and cared about.
“I can safely say the charities sector and many of the communities and issues they represent owe Rachel a huge debt of gratitude for championing so many critical issues – perhaps none more significant for our sector than her tireless campaigning to enact the Charities Act in 2013 and prevent the dismantling of the ACNC,” Crosbie said.
A federal election is due in 2022, but there have been whispers Prime Minister Scott Morrison may call an early election for the end of this year.