Female franchise

Women Members of Tasmanian State Parliament

Tasmanian women became eligible to vote in House of Assembly elections in 1904 following a change to the eligibility criteria from 'man' to 'person' in the Constitution Act 1903. Although this allowed women to vote they were still not eligible to stand for election to either House.

In October 1920 women who had served as nurses in the First World War became eligible to vote in Legislative Council elections (Constitution (War Service Franchise) Act 1920.

In 1921 women were granted the right to stand for election. This change permitted Alicia O'Shea-Petersen and Edith Waterworth to stand in Denison and Annette Youl to stand in Wilmot (now Lyons), albeit unsuccessfully, in June 1922 (Constitution Amendment Act, 61/1921).

In 1928 compulsory voting for both women and men was introduced (Electoral Act, 55/1928).

In 1930 it became mandatory to enrol to vote at Federal and State elections (Constitution Act, 94/1930).

In 1941 the franchise for the Legislative Council was extended to all '... servicemen and women in any war' and the age limit reduced from 30 years to 21 years, or lower for serving members of the armed forces (Constitution Act, (66/1941).

In 1954 the spouses of property owners became eligible to vote in Legislative Council elections (Constitution Act (69/1954).

In 1968 full adult franchise was granted for Legislative Council elections (Constitution Act (68/1968) and the general voting age for all electors was lowered to 18 years in 1973.

Further reading: Vicki Pearce 'A Few Viragos on a Stump: the womanhood suffrage campaign in Tasmania 1880-1920' in Tasmanian Historical Research Association Vol. 32 No. 4 1985 pp.151-164.

Female Firsts - Tasmania

First Woman in Federal Parliament

Dame Enid M. Lyons (UAP/Lib) became the first woman to sit in Federal Parliament when she was elected to the Tasmanian seat of Darwin (now Braddon) in the House of Representatives on 21 August 1943. She later became the first woman to become a Federal Cabinet Minister. The first woman to enter the Senate - Dorothy Tangney, representing Western Australia - was elected at the same election.

First Woman in Legislative Council

Margaret E. McINTYRE was the first woman Member of Parliament in Tasmania. She was elected as an Independent for the Legislative Council seat of Cornwall in May 1948, by male voters and female nurses only, but was killed in an air accident in September 1948.

First Women in House of Assembly

In February 1955 Amelia M. BEST (Wilmot) and Mabel F. MILLER (Franklin) became the first women to be elected to the House of Assembly.

First Woman Party Secretary

In July 1969 Kath J. VENN , ALP, became Australia's first female Party secretary (until 1976 when she became a Member of the Legislative Council).

First Woman Minister

In 1980 Gillian H. JAMES , ALP, was elected Tasmania's first female Minister; in June 1989 Fran Bladel and Judy Jackson were made Ministers in the Field ALP Government (1989-92). Mrs James was also Deputy Speaker during 1980.

First Minister for Women

Hon. Robin GRAY (Liberal) became the Minister for the Status of Women on 1 June 1989. Hon. Frances BLADEL (ALP) became Minister Assisting the Premier on the Status of Women on 3 July 1989, following a change in Government.

First Woman Party Leader

Christine A. MILNE was elected leader of the Tasmanian Greens in February 1993 (three of the five Members were female) and so became Tasmania's first female Party leader. She was defeated at the August 1998 election after which the only Greens Member was Peg Putt, who assumed leadership of the Party.

First Woman Minister in a Liberal Government

Sue D. NAPIER became the first female Liberal Party Member to enter Cabinet when made an Assistant Minister in February 1994; she became Deputy Premier in March 1996 and the first woman to lead the Tasmanian Liberal Party on 2 July 1999.

First Woman to Sit in State and Federal Parliaments

When elected to the Legislative Council in May 1997 Silvia J. SMITH became the first woman to represent Tasmania at both Federal  (ALP) and State (Ind ALP) levels (MHR Bass 1993-96; MLC Windermere 1997-2003).

First Woman to become President of the Legislative Council

Hon. Sue SMITH became the first woman to be elected as President of the Legislative Council on Tuesday 10 May 2008.

First Woman to become Premier

Hon. Lara T GIDDINGS became the first woman Premier of Tasmania on Monday 24 January 2011.

First Woman to become Speaker of the House of Assembly

Hon. Elise ARCHER became the first female Speaker of the House of Assembly on Tuesday 6 May 2014.

Majority of Women in House of Assembly for first time

Following the March 2018 House of Assembly Election Women made up 52% of the members.

Majority of Women in Legislative Council for first time

Following the May 2018 Legislative Council Elections Women made up 53% of the members.

Timeline of Women in the Tasmanian Electoral Process

  House of Assembly Legislative Council
Women become eligible to vote 29 Feb 1904 29 Nov 1920
First election (eligible to vote) 29 Mar 1906 3 May 1921
Women become eligible to stand 14 Feb 1922 14 Feb 1922
First election (eligible to stand) 25 Mar 1922 2 May 1922
First women elected 19 Feb 1955 8 May 1948
Name/s A.M. BEST (Liberal)
M.F. MILLER (Liberal)
M.E. McINTYRE (Ind.)
Electorate Wilmot