Lance Armstrong, who was the Greens member for the House of Assembly in the Tasmanian parliament from 1989 to 1996, passed away peacefully in his sleep in a Melbourne nursing home yesterday. He was 83. Lance is survived by his wife Ruth, 3 children (Kim, Tracey and Victor), 4 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.
Lance was a Uniting Church minister and social activist in Launceston when he stood for the Green Independents and won a seat in Bass in the 1989 elections which saw 5 Green Independents hold the balance of power. This followed the controversy over Liberal Premier Robin Gray’s backing of the proposed Wesley Vale pulp mill and led to the Labor Green Accord which saw the Field Labor government come to power.
Bob Brown, who led the Greens to the 1989 election, said today that “Lance was a rock-solid Green who never wavered under repeated attacks on Greens policy, including death threats, from protecting forests to gay law reform, return of land to the Aboriginal community and opposing poker machines. In 1991 he was responsible for the first Greens legislation ever to pass an Australian parliament with his bill to ensure the vote of young Tasmanians who had just turned 18 prior to an election.”
Armstrong wrote a book on his seven years in parliament called ‘Good God, He’s Green!’ and related how, as a minister of the Christian church, he ‘came to identify so closely with the Green movement’.
Armstrong represented the Greens at the Tahiti protests against French nuclear bomb testing in the Pacific Ocean. He also introduced legislation to prohibit nuclear warships from Tasmanian ports and to decriminalise the personal use of marijuana.
After losing his seat by just 32 votes in 1996, Armstrong returned to the Uniting Church ministry, taking an appointment to Albury, before retiring with Ruth to Melbourne to be near their family.
“Lance Armstrong was a good friend. He made a remarkable contribution to Tasmanian politics and society. He seamlessly combined his Christian beliefs with his political career in his never-wavering advocacy for social justice, peace and care for the natural environment,” Brown said.