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Jacqui Lambie: The single mum dividing a nation

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has made a dramatic entry into the debate over who wields power in the Prime Minister's office.
Australian Senator Jacqui Lambie in The Australian Women's Weekly.

Jacqui Lambie. Photography by Michelle Holden. Styling by Judith Cook.

In an interview with The Weekly, Senator Lambie described Prime Minister Tony Abbott as having ‘no guts’ and ‘no balls’ after he twice cancelled plans to meet with her before Christmas.

Senator Lambie says that she believes the PM developed a fear of powerful women while attending an all-boys school.

“Females scare the crap out of him but he’s going to have to grow a pair because he has to deal with me,” she said. Senator Lambie, a 44-year-old single mother of two, took up a seat in the Senate in July. Elected as a member of the Palmer United Party, she is now an independent, focused on veteran’s rights, Tasmanian jobs and national security.

“My vote’s important so if I was Tony Abbott, I’d be saying: Hey, Jacqui Lambie, let’s have a cup of coffee,” she told The Weekly. “But he can’t do that, can he?  Because he doesn’t wear the pants. The female in his office (chief of staff) Peta Credlin – she’s the one that wears the pants.

“That’s another thing with those blokes from the all-boy schools: they can only deal with one powerful female at a time. They need that powerful female to push the other females away.

“So now the bastard is saying: ‘I don’t have to meet with Jacqui Lambie’ but guess what? He does have to meet with me, because we are going to have to work together. Fair enough, he got elected – but I got elected, too.”

Senator Lambie met Tony Abbott for the first time earlier this year, shortly after describing him as a psychopath. She told The Weekly the meeting was awkward.

“Tony Abbott has no social skills,” she said. “To me, he’s like a cardboard cut-out. You put him here, you move him there. He told me how he had injured himself during some fire fighting exercise. I had to stop myself from saying: ‘Harden up, girlfriend’.’”

Senator Lambie, who may well be the only female parliamentarian ever to hold a tank licence, said that Mr Abbott had cancelled two planned meetings with her, before Parliament rose for Christmas. She was hopeful of a meeting before Christmas.

Senator Lambie came to the interview with The Weekly in jeans she picked up for $8 from Kmart, with a soft pack of tobacco in her handbag and a determination to be heard.

She is closer in her life experience other working class Australians than almost anyone else in Parliament.

She spoke candidly to The Weekly on a variety of topics, including mental and physical health problems that forced her out of work; her parents’ divorce; her (now cured) addiction to pharmaceuticals; her regular use of Botox and fillers to improve her appearance; and her belief that parents should never stay together for the kids, that being the ‘coward’s way.’

Senator Lambie said that her own parents separated when she was 13.

“It didn’t sort of bother me,” she said. “We were told the night before, and Dad moved out the next day. Basically what happened was, there was a lady, and Dad would take us around to her house and she had pictures of me and my brother (Bobby) on her mantelpiece.

“I said to Mum, why does this lady have pictures of us on the mantelpiece? And Mum said: ‘Where does this lady live?’ And it was basically from there that Dad left and now he’s on his third divorce and living in a caravan so he’s not had the best luck in that regard.”

The family home was sold and Senator Lambie remembers her Mum “sitting on a packing box, saying we are going to have to move into housing commission. But it was alright. I knew a lot of kids who lived in housing commission because we all went to Don College (a local high school in Devonport) and I remember Mum telling us it doesn’t matter where you live it’s what’s inside.”

Senator Lambie said she had been taking money from her suddenly regular pay packet – she had not worked for a decade, before entering Federal parliament – and paying off her credit cards.

“I’m still renting,” she says, but the Senate job pays $195,000 plus, plus, plus (expenses)’ so she is now saving for a house.

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