Pru Goward

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The Honourable
Pru Goward
Pru Goward (7010666561).jpg
Pru Goward visits La traviata in Sydney (2012)
Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Goulburn
Assumed office
24 March 2007
Preceded by new district
Minister for Women
Assumed office
3 April 2011
Premier Barry O'Farrell
Mike Baird
Preceded by Linda Burney
Minister for Planning
Assumed office
23 April 2014
Premier Mike Baird
Preceded by Brad Hazzard
Minister for Community Services
In office
3 April 2011 – 23 April 2014
Premier Barry O'Farrell
Preceded by Linda Burney
Succeeded by Gabrielle Upton
Personal details
Born (1952-11-02) 2 November 1952 (age 62)
Adelaide, South Australia
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Spouse(s) David Barnett (m. 1986)
Alastair Fischer (m. 1973; dis. 1983)
Children Kate Fischer, Penny Fischer, and Alice Barnett
Alma mater Adelaide University (1974)
Website Parliamentary biography

Prudence Jane Goward MP (born 2 September 1952 in Adelaide[1]), an Australian politician, is the New South Wales Minister for Planning since 2014, and the Minister for Women since 2011, in the Baird government.[2][3] Goward is a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly representing Goulburn for the Liberal Party of Australia since 2007.

She has previously served as Australian Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner Responsible for Age Discrimination with the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission; and was the Minister for Family and Community Services in the O'Farrell government between 2011 and 2014.

Early life and personal background[edit]

Goward was born to Gerald Goward and Zipporah Riggs, and was raised in Adelaide. She attended Morphett Vale Primary School, Willunga High School and gained entrance to Woodlands Church of England Girls Grammar School on a half scholarship.[1] She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Econ) (Hons) in 1974 from Adelaide University.

Goward married journalist David Barnett in 1986. She was previously married from 1973 to 1983 to university lecturer Alastair Fischer, whom she met while studying at Adelaide University.[1] She is the mother of three daughters, former model and actor Kate Fischer, Penny Fischer, and Alice Barnett. She has two granddaughters.[citation needed]

Goward and Barnett have maintained a close personal friendship with former prime minister John Howard for many years, and jointly authored a biography of Howard in 1997.[4]


Goward joined ABC TV and Radio in 1980, firstly as a reporter with Nationwide, then as a political correspondent on the 7.30 Report, and later as host of the Morning Show and Daybreak on Radio National. She has also worked as a high school teacher, a university lecturer in economics, a broadcast journalism lecturer at University of Canberra, a media consultant and freelance writer.[citation needed]

She was Executive Director of the Office of the Status of Women in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet from 1997 to 1999. In this position, Goward criticised the business community for the "primitive attitudes" that kept women out of senior executive ranks and boardrooms.[5] At the time of her appointment, she was criticised by Anne Summers, a previous Executive Director, and Carmen Lawrence, a prominent female politician, for her perceived inexperience and political connection to the Howard government.[6]

Goward was the Sex Discrimination Commissioner at HREOC, a five-year tenure she began in July 2001. In this role, she called for the introduction of paid maternity leave, a position rejected by the Howard government.[citation needed] Howard extended her tenure for an additional three years in July 2006.[citation needed] However, she successfully ran for New South Wales state parliament in March 2007.

Parliamentary career[edit]

In 2006, Goward nominated for Liberal Party preselection for the New South Wales state parliament in seat of Epping in Sydney's north-west, but was defeated[7] by the former President of the Right to Life Association,[8] Greg Smith. She was subsequently preselected unopposed for the seat of Goulburn, to replace retiring Liberal frontbencher Peta Seaton. Goward was expected to win the seat, however an unexpectedly strong swing to Labor in the Southern Highlands area of the seat put her victory in doubt on election night. Her main contender, Independent Mayor of Goulburn Paul Stephenson, conceded defeat on 29 March 2007. Goward was quoted as saying that she "didn't expect to win it. I knew I was behind the whole time, even four days before the election we were told I was five points behind, so I'm just so grateful."[9]>

As the Minister responsible for child protective services there have been reports of inadequate staffing and services to meet the need.[10][11]

As the state's Community Services Minister, Goward announced in mid-March 2014 that around 300 harbourfront public housing properties will be sold under the management of Government Property NSW, with the proceeds reinvested into the public housing system. Considered historic structures, the harbourfront properties are located at Millers Point, The Rocks and on Gloucester Street, and include the Sirius complex, a high-rise, 79-unit apartment complex near the Harbour Bridge. The government expects to generate hundreds of millions of dollars from the sales and Goward explained, as a justification of the sale: "In the last two years alone, nearly [A]$7 million has been spent maintaining this small number of properties. That money could have been better spent on building more social housing, or investing in the maintenance of public housing properties across the state."[12]

Due to the resignation of Barry O'Farrell as Premier,[13] and the subsequent ministerial reshuffle by Mike Baird, the new Liberal Leader,[2] in April 2014 in addition to her existing responsibilities as a minister, Goward was appointed as the Minister for Planning; and lost the portfolio of Family and Community Services.[3][14]


After being in Parliament a single day, Goward told a symposium of women in leadership in Sydney "I have never worked in any profession as male-dominated or as ruthlessly sexist as this. I was quite shocked by it."[15] These comments have not been supported by other female MPs from both sides of politics, who generally said Parliament had improved.[16][dead link]

In May 2007, Goward was caught speeding in a school zone. This was her second driving offence for 2007. Goward said "It was extremely careless on my part and like thousands of other drivers I deeply regret it."[17][18]

In February 2014, Katrina Hodgkinson, the Nationals Member for Burrinjuck, a neighbouring electorate of Goulburn, announced that she would be contesting Goward's seat of Goulburn. Her decision followed a statewide electoral redistribution by the NSW Electoral Commission that resulted in a substantial revision of Hodgkinson's seat of Burrinjuck and the seat renamed as Cootamundra, with effect from the 2015 state election.[19][20] Her announcement resulted in a dispute between the Nationals and Liberals;[21][22] and on 28 February, Hodgkinson announced she would withdraw her nomination for Goulburn. It is expected that Hodgkinson will contest the newly constituted seat of Cootamundra.[23]


Goward was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2001 for services to journalism and women's rights.[24]


  1. ^ a b c Thompson, Peter (13 November 2006). "Pru Goward". Talking Heads (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Nicholls, Sean (22 April 2014). "Mike Baird's cabinet reshuffle a preparation for next election". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "The Hon. Prudence Jane GOWARD, MP". Current members of parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. 23 April 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Barnett, David; Goward, Pru; Barnett, David, 1931 (27 Sept.)-; Goward, Pru (1997), John Howard : Prime Minister, Viking, ISBN 978-0-670-87389-0 
  5. ^ Bagwell, S. (4 September 1997). "Get Rid of Primitive Attitude: Goward". Australian Financial Review. 
  6. ^ Humphries, D (23 September 2006). "Woman most likely". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  7. ^ Mitchell, Alex (16 September 2006). "Goward sinks in Epping but resurfaces closer to home". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  8. ^ Shanahan, D. (21 July 2006). "The trouble with talent in politics". The Australian. 
  9. ^ "Goward wins Goulburn seat". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 29 March 2006. 
  10. ^ Andrew Clennell, (23 August 2013), Pru Goward under pressure after allegations of misleading parliament, The Daily Telegraph, Sydney
  11. ^ Rachel Browne, Anna Patty, Calls for Pru Goward to be sacked over abandoned children, (11 April 2014), Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney
  12. ^ Hasham, Nicole (19 March 2014). "Sydney waterfront public housing properties to be sold off". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  13. ^ "Barry O'Farrell quits as NSW Premier over memory fail". The Australian. 16 April 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2014. 
  14. ^ "Mike Baird's NSW cabinet". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 April 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2014. 
  15. ^ "Bearpit sexist says new MP". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 May 2007. 
  16. ^ "Story". Illawarra Mercury. [dead link]
  17. ^ "It was extremely careless: Goward". The Sydney Morning Herald. 18 May 2007. 
  18. ^ "Woman wants Goward's apology over advice". NineMSN Pty Limited. 
  19. ^ Nicholls, Sean (19 February 2014). "Katrina Hodgkinson to take on Pru Goward for Goulburn seat". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  20. ^ "Katrina Hodgkinson to challenge Pru Goward in preselection fight to win NSW seat of Goulburn". ABC News (Australia). 19 February 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  21. ^ Nicholls, Sean (28 February 2014). "Pru Goward, Katrina Hodgkinson dispute over Goulburn unresolved". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  22. ^ "National Katrina Hodgkinson to contest Liberal Pru Goward's seat of Goulburn". The Australian. AAP. 19 February 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  23. ^ Nicholls, Sean (28 February 2014). "Katrina Hodgkinson to withdraw from Goulburn poll fight against Pru Goward". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  24. ^ "Profile of Pru Goward". Former Commissioners. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. 15 September 2006. 

External links[edit]


  • Barnett, David; Goward, Pru (1997). John Howard, Prime Minister. Viking. ISBN 0-670-87389-6. 
  • Goward, Pru (2001). A Business of Your Own: How Women Succeed in Business. Australia: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-593-6. 
Parliament of New South Wales
New district Member for Goulburn
Political offices
Preceded by
Linda Burney
Minister for Women
Preceded by
Brad Hazzard
Minister for Planning
Preceded by
Linda Burney
Minister for Community Services
Succeeded by
Gabrielle Upton