Senate debates

Tuesday, 17 October 2023

Statements by Senators

Armstrong, Mr Lance John Edward

1:49 pm

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

WHISH-WILSON () (): Lance Armstrong passed away peacefully in his sleep in a Melbourne nursing home on 14 October 2023. He was 83 years of age. He was born in Perth Western Australia on 17 February 1940. Originally a uniting church minister and social activist in Launceston, on the back of community opposition to the Wesley Vale pulp mill, Lance was elected to the Tasmanian House of Assembly in 1989 as the first Greens member for Bass, with Christine Milne and Di Hollister to join Bob Brown and Gerry Bates. This motley group of independents formed an alliance to become the Green Independents, setting an important trend for us in this place to follow.

The Green Independents held the balance of government for three years under what was then termed the Labor-Green Accord. Lance was a rock-solid Green, working to protect forests, supporting gay law reform, returning of land to the Aboriginal community and opposing poker machines. In 1991 he was responsible for the first-ever Greens legislation to pass an Australian parliament, with a bill to ensure the voting rights of young Tasmanians. Armstrong represented the Greens at the Tahiti protests against French nuclear bomb testing in the Pacific Ocean. He also introduced legislation to prohibit nuclear war ships from Tasmanian ports and to decriminalise the personal use of marijuana. After 1992, the MPs kept their seats and reconstituted as the Tasmanian Greens. Lance would continue on as an MP until 1996.

He wrote a book on his seven years in parliament called Good God he's a Green and related how, as a minister of the Christian church, he came to identify so closely with the Green movement. Lance returned to Uniting Church ministry, taking an appointment in Albury in 1996 before retiring with Ruth to Melbourne to be near his family. Lance is survived by his wife, Ruth; three children, Kim, Tracey and Victor; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Vale, Lance.