Senator for South Australia
AD; IND; APA, 1990–2005
Meg Lees was chosen by the Parliament of South Australia in 1990 to represent South Australia in the Senate. A member of the Australian Democrats, she entered Parliament with an avid interest in the environment, social justice and the economy, all of which she said she felt were ‘intrinsically linked’.
Senator Lees stated she was able to make her greatest parliamentary contribution on environmental issues, particularly as a central participant in the largely successful negotiations surrounding the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. She also contributed towards the strengthening of heritage legislation and the introduction of the Energy Credits (Cleaner Fuels) Scheme.
Her advocacy of health and education issues was driven by her previous work as a physical education teacher and she argued that the introduction of the goods and services tax (which was passed with the support of Democrats senators) was a major step in securing funding for both sectors. Her successful introduction of allied health into Medicare and the setting up of the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation were all part of her aim to improve the structure and focus of the health system.
After time as Deputy Leader (1991–97) and Leader of the Australian Democrats (1997–2001), Lees left the party in 2002 and served the remainder of her term as an independent and then as a member of the Australian Progressive Alliance before leaving the Senate in 2005.