Greens senator Lee Rhiannon is facing a backlash from some of her colleagues after she criticised the party’s leader, Richard Di Natale.
Senator Rhiannon took a shot at Senator Di Natale’s vision of the party in an interview on the ABC’s Insiders program, saying she was “disappointed in Richard’s leadership”.
But Tasmanian senator Peter Whish-Wilson has told AM that her comments were out of line.
“There is no leadership issue in the party room,” he said.
“We all support Senator Di Natale as our leader, and if Senator Rhiannon has a problem with that, then she needs to make it very clear she is the odd person out in this regard.”
A number of the Greens also took to social media to back their leader.
“I’m proud of the job Richard Di Natale is doing. Honest, decent, and policy before politics,” senator Larissa Waters tweeted.
Playing this out in the media should stop. Let's work together for progressive outcomes, surely more important than talking about ourselves
— Nick McKim (@NickMcKim) July 2, 2017
Senator Whish-Wilson urged Senator Rhiannon to discuss the matter internally and not through the media.
“I would ask Senator Rhiannon to negotiate internally — go through the processes that we hope this will go through with the National Council and the membership,” he said.
“Be as passionate as your supporters expect you to be, but go through the internal processes.”
The Senator would not comment on whether Senator Rhiannon was becoming the Greens version of Tony Abbott.
“I’m not going to make comments that will only potentially inflame the situation,” he said.
“I work well with Lee, I always have, and I think she’s passionate about this issue and she has a right to be.”
The fallout centres around the Australian Greens wanting the New South Wales branch to change its ways.
Currently, the State division can instruct Senator Rhiannon on how to vote, even if that goes against the Federal party room’s position.
Until that is resolved, Senator Rhiannon is excluded from engaging in party room discussions about contentious Government issues.
The Senator is furious about being temporarily excluded, but Senator Whish-Wilson argued it was “not a big deal”.
“There are some people trying to blow this up and make it a big deal, but I’m here to say it’s not,” he said.
“I think it is very reasonable and we will take this to the party and we will continue to talk about this process and why we think it is important to go through this process.”
Senator Whish-Wilson has acknowledged that changing the current setup in NSW could take years and praised Senator Di Natale for taking on the challenge.
“This is the time for us to do this now,” he said.
“It would be very easy for a weak leader to sweep this under the carpet but Richard is taking this on.
“He’s got support of the party room.”