In the end, for Jacqui Lambie, it all came down to a single question, asked in November to her father about whether she had inherited British citizenship and needed to resign from the Senate: “Am I gone?” His reply? “Yes sweetie, you’re gone.”
And she was. Gone, but unlikely to be forgotten.
In her four years as a politician the ex-Army corporal, 46, stamped herself as everything today’s crop of slick Canberra careerists is not: a brash, breathtakingly honest, blue-collar battler. By that criteria, her 2017 performance was bravura: love or loathe her, Lambie brought passion to Parliament in a year when it became bogged down with legalities.
“You never had any doubt what Jacqui believed and we need more of that in Parliament,” Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young tells The New Daily. “I said when we were all saying goodbye to her that I loved her guts. The guts to be honest, the guts to admit when she was wrong.”
Controversially and unshrinkingly, Lambie made strident calls to ban the burqa and “deport anyone” supporting sharia law. But she fought just as relentlessly for veterans affairs and stood up for those on the margins with an emotional speech about her past life as a single mum at the “bottom of the crap pile.”
Her heart-on-the-sleeve style prompted then-attorney general George Brandis to say she was “loved” by colleagues, and Lambie hasn’t ruled out a second tilt at federal politics: “I think if I stop I’ll just roll into a ball and I don’t want to.”
Hanson-Young wants her back: “She would say things that everyone else thought but no-one dared to say. She was a great heckler.”
From A-list stars to politicians and athletes, we’ve named the 13 Australians who made headlines and sparked conversations – both heated and admiring – across the nation in 2017. Some covered themselves in glory. Some created controversy. Some made reputations, others lost them. From the cricket arena to the same sex marriage battlefield, regardless of whether they were beloved or booed, their personal and professional wins and downfalls had us talking over dinner tables and media channels.