Statistics

40.7%

Women in Parliament





Milestones for women in Australian parliaments

(Source: Australian Parliamentary Library)

  • 1894

    Women in the colony of South Australia win both the right to vote and stand for the colonial parliament

  • 1899

    Women in the colony of Western Australia win the right to vote; they win the right to stand for state parliament in 1920 and the first woman is elected in 1921 (Edith Cowan)

  • 1902

    The Commonwealth Franchise Act is passed, enabling all women (with the exception of Aboriginal women in some states) to vote for the Commonwealth Parliament. From this time, women are also able to sit in the Commonwealth Parliament; the first women are elected in 1943 (Dorothy Tangney and Enid Lyons)

    Women in New South Wales win the right to vote; they win the right to stand for the state Legislative Assembly in 1918

  • 1903

    Four women are candidates for the Commonwealth election—Nellie Martel, Mary Ann Moore Bentley and Vida Goldstein for the Senate, and Selina Anderson for the House of Representatives

    Women in Tasmania win the right to vote

  • 1905

    Women in Queensland win the right to vote

  • 1908

    Women in Victoria win the right to vote

  • 1918

    Queensland women win the right to stand for state parliament

  • 1921

    Edith Cowan (Nationalist) becomes Australia’s first female parliamentarian when she is elected to the WA Legislative Assembly

  • 1922 

    Women in Tasmania win the right to stand for state parliament

  • 1923

    Victorian women win the right to stand for state parliament

  • 1925

    Millicent Preston-Stanley (Nationalist) is the first woman appointed to the NSW Legislative Assembly

  • 1926

    Women in NSW win the right to stand for the Legislative Council

  • 1929

    Irene Longman (Progressive Nationalist) is the first women to be elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly

  • 1931

    Ellen Webster (ALP) and Catherine Green (ALP) become the first women appointed to the NSW Legislative Council

  • 1933

    Lady Millie Peacock (UAP) is the first woman to be elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly

  • 1943

    Enid Lyons (UAP, later LIB) and Senator Dorothy Tangney (ALP) are the first female parliamentarians to be elected to the Commonwealth Parliament

  • 1944

    Lillian Fowler is elected to the NSW Legislative Assembly seat of Newtown after serving as the first female Mayor in Australia (1938–9)

  • 1947

    Senator Annabelle Rankin (LIB), becomes Opposition Whip in the Senate becoming the first woman in the Commonwealth Parliament to hold that office

  • 1947

    Florence Cardell-Oliver (Nationalist; elected to the Western Australian Parliament in 1936) becomes Australia’s first female Cabinet minister

  • 1948

    Margaret McIntyre (IND) is the first woman elected to the Tasmanian Legislative Council

  • 1949

    Enid Lyons (LIB) becomes Vice-President of the Executive Council in the Liberal-Country Party coalition ministry of Prime Minister Robert Menzies

  • 1951

    Senator Annabelle Rankin (LIB) becomes Government Whip

  • 1954

    Ruby Hutchinson (ALP) is the first woman to be elected to the WA Legislative Council

  • 1955

    Millie Best (LIB) and Mabel Miller (LIB), are the first women to be elected to the Tasmanian House of Assembly

  • 1959

    Joyce Steele (LCL) and Jessie Cooper (LCL) are the first women elected to the South Australian Parliament: Joyce Steele to the SA Legislative Assembly and Jessie Cooper to the SA Legislative Council

  • 1966

    Senator Annabelle Rankin (LIB) is appointed as Minister for Housing, becoming the first woman minister in the Commonwealth Parliament with portfolio responsibility

  • 1970

    Dame Senator Ivy Wedgwood (LIB) chairs one of the first of the Senate’s new legislative and general purpose standing committees, the Health and Welfare Committee

  • 1976

    Senator Margaret Guilfoyle (LIB), who was appointed Minister for Education and Minister for Social Security in 1975, becomes the first woman to be appointed to Commonwealth Cabinet and administer a government department; she is made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979

    Joy Mein (LIB) becomes the first woman state president of a major political party when she becomes the state president of the Liberal Party of Australia Representation of women in Australian parliaments 2014

  • 1978

    The NSW Legislative Council is popularly elected for the first time, and four women win places: Virginia Chadwick (LIB), Marie Fisher (ALP), Deirdre Grusovin (ALP), and Dorothy Isaksen (ALP)

  • 1979

    Gracia Baylor (LIB) and Joan Coxsedge (ALP) are the first women to be elected to the Victorian Legislative Council

  • 1980

    Senator Margaret Guilfoyle (LIB) becomes the first woman to hold an economic portfolio as Minister for Finance

  • 1981

    Shirley McKerrow becomes the first female national president of an Australian political party (The Nationals)

  • 1983

    Senator Susan Ryan (ALP) is the first female Labor minister in the Commonwealth Parliament. As the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women, Senator Ryan introduces the Sex Discrimination Act 1984

  • 1986

    Mrs Joan Child (ALP) becomes the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives

    Senator Janine Haines becomes the first woman to lead an Australian political party (Australian Democrats)

  • 1989

    Rosemary Follett (ALP) becomes Australia’s first female head of government and first female Chief Minister of the ACT

  • 1990

    Carmen Lawrence (ALP) becomes the first female Premier of an Australian state (Western Australia)

    Joan Kirner (ALP) becomes the first female Premier of Victoria

    Senator Janet Powell (IND) becomes the first woman member of either house to have a private bill passed by both houses, the Smoking and Tobacco Products Advertisements (Prohibition) Act 1989

    Carolyn Jakobsen (ALP) is elected chair of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, the first woman to hold this position

  • 1995

    Senator Margaret Reid (LIB) is elected Deputy-President of the Senate

  • 1996

    Senator Margaret Reid (LIB) becomes the first woman elected as President of the Senate (1996–2002)

    De-Anne Kelly (NAT) becomes the first National Party woman to be elected to the House of Representatives

  • 2001

    Jenny Macklin (ALP) becomes Deputy Leader of the Commonwealth Opposition; in 2002 she is elected as Deputy Leader of the ALP, the first woman to hold the position in the major parties at federal level

    Clare Martin (ALP) is the first female Chief Minister of the Northern Territory

  • 2003

    Linda Burney (ALP) is the first Indigenous Australian to be elected to the Parliament of NSW; she holds several ministerial positions in the NSW Cabinet between 2007 and 2011, and becomes Deputy Leader of the Opposition in NSW in 2011

  • 2005

    Senator Judith Troeth (LIB) is a co-sponsor with Senator Fiona Nash (NAT), Senator Claire Moore (ALP), and Senator Lynette Allison (DEM) of the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (Repeal of Ministerial Responsibility for Approval of RU486) Bill 2005 (known as the ‘abortion pill’); this Bill removes responsibility for approval of RU486 from the Minister for Health and Ageing and places it with the Therapeutic Goods Administration

  • 2006

    Senator Kay Patterson (LIB) introduces the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill 2006. It is passed, becoming one of only 10 private senators’ bills to become law since 1901

  • 2007

    Julia Gillard (ALP) becomes Australia’s first female Deputy Prime Minister

    Anna Bligh (ALP) becomes the first female Premier of Queensland

    Julie Bishop (LIB) is the first female Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia

  • 2009

    Kristina Keneally (ALP) becomes the first female Premier of NSW

  • 2010

    Julia Gillard (ALP) becomes Australia’s first female Prime Minister

  • 2011

    Nicola Roxon (ALP) becomes Australia’s first female Attorney-General

    Lara Giddings (ALP) becomes the first female Premier of Tasmania

  • 2012

    Christine Milne (AG) becomes the first woman to lead the Australian Greens at the national level

  • 2013

    Julie Bishop (LIB) becomes first female Minister for Foreign Affairs

  • 2015

    Annastacia Palaszczuk (ALP) becomes first female elected Premier (in Queensland)