Susan Lines is an Australian politician, born on 15 December 1953 in Perth. She has been a Senator for Western Australia since 2013, representing the Australian Labor Party (ALP). She is also the current President of the Australian Senate, having previously served as the Deputy President from 2016.
Lines’ parents, Nancy McRae and Jim Lines, separated when she was young, and she became close to her stepmother, Mary Davies. Her father was born in England and came to Australia at the age of 12 as part of a child migration scheme. He served in World War II and later worked as a baker, carpenter, and builder. Her maternal grandparents were Scottish.
Lines attended Gosnells Primary School and Armadale Senior High School before completing a Bachelor of Education at Murdoch University. She worked as a teacher from 1984 to 1985. Her mother, who was also a schoolteacher, passed away in 1976. In 1987, Lines began working as a union organiser for what subsequently became United Voice. She later became the assistant state secretary of the union in 2001 and the assistant national secretary in 2007.
Lines’ political career started when she was elected to the state executive of the ALP in Western Australia in 1990 and the national executive in 2002. She was a delegate to national conference and a delegate to state conference in both Western Australia and New South Wales at various points. She also served on the ALP’s national policy committee from 2007 to 2009.
In 2013, Lines was nominated by the ALP to fill a casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Chris Evans. She was formally appointed to the Senate on 15 May 2013 and elected to a six-year term in her own right at the 2016 federal election. Lines has served on several Senate committees and was elected Deputy President of the Senate in September 2016. In July 2022, following the ALP’s victory at the 2022 federal election, she was elected President of the Senate, making her the second woman elected to the position, after Margaret Reid, and the first woman from the ALP to be elected president.
Lines is a member of the Labor Left faction and holds progressive political positions. She opposes the use of mandatory immigration detention and has been a vocal critic of government policies in this area. She also supports shifting the date of Australia Day from 26 January, arguing that it celebrates white supremacy and the legacy of colonisation that is directly linked to the ongoing mistreatment of Indigenous Australians.
Lines has faced criticism for her comments about the Israel lobby’s influence on ALP policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In response to her remarks, Alexander Ryvchin of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry accused her of “playing to people’s fears and prejudices” and making “dog-whistle allusions to supposed Israel lobby influence over Australian politics.”
Despite criticism, Lines has remained committed to her progressive political positions and has been a strong advocate for social justice and human rights throughout her political career.
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