On this International Women’s Day 8th March 2019 we look back at some milestones in Australian suffrage and representation.

In 1902, Australia became the first nation to introduce equal federal suffrage. The enactment of the Commonwealth Franchise Act in that year allowed women to both vote and stand for election.

But it was not until 1921 that a women was elected to a parliament in Australia, the Western Australian parliament, Edith Cowan took her seat on 12 March 1921.

At the age of 59, Edith stood as the Nationalist candidate for the Legislative Assembly seat of West Perth. Edith felt that domestic and social issues were not being given enough attention – what would she make Australian women’s lives in 2019 we wonder. She won a surprise victory, defeating the Attorney General, Thomas Draper, who had introduced the legislation that enabled her to stand. What a wonderful touch of irony.

Twenty two year later, in 1943, Enid Lyons became the Member for Darwin (in Tasmania) in the House of Representatives, and Dorothy Tangney was elected to represent Western Australia in the Senate.

For some more defining moments for women in Australian electoral history the Australian Electoral Commission web site. This list ends in 2012 and needs some updating –we have emailed the AEC.

 

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