Annabelle Rankin

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The Honourable
Dame Annabelle Rankin
Annabelle Rankin.jpg
High Commissioner of Australia to New Zealand
In office
Prime Minister William McMahon
Gough Whitlam
Preceded by Ted Hicks
Succeeded by Brian Clarence Hill
Father of the Australian Senate
In office
1 July 1968 – 24 May 1971
Preceded by Walter Cooper
Succeeded by Bert Hendrickson,
Justin O'Byrne
Senator for Queensland
In office
1 July 1947 – 24 May 1971
Succeeded by Neville Bonner
Minister for Housing
In office
26 January 1966 – 22 March 1971
Prime Minister Harold Holt
John McEwen
John Gorton
William McMahon
Preceded by Les Bury
Succeeded by Kevin Cairns
Personal details
Born (1908-07-28)28 July 1908
Brisbane, Queensland
Died 30 August 1986(1986-08-30) (aged 78)
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Relations Colin Rankin (father)

Dame Annabelle Jane Mary Rankin DBE (28 July 1908 – 30 August 1986) was the second woman member of the Australian Senate, the first woman from Queensland to sit in the Parliament of Australia, the first Australian woman to have a federal portfolio and the first Australian woman to be appointed head of a foreign mission.


Rankin was born in Brisbane, Queensland on 28 July 1908, the daughter of Colin Dunlop Wilson Rankin (a former Member of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland) and Annabelle Davidson (née Thomson).[1]

The family lived in Brooklyn House, Howard (now heritage-listed).[2][3] She attended primary school in Childers and Howard. She attended secondary school at Glennie Memorial School in Toowoomba.[4]

She was well known in the community for her public service though the CWA, Guides Australia, Red Cross and YWCA.[5]

Rankin was elected to the Senate in the 1946 election, as a representative of the Liberal Party. Her term began on 1 July 1947. She was the first woman appointed as Opposition Whip in the Senate and, following the election of the Menzies government in 1949, also served as Government Whip in the Senate.

On 26 January 1966, Prime Minister Harold Holt appointed her Minister for Housing in his first ministry, responsible for the Department of Housing. She was the second woman to reach ministerial rank in the Federal Parliament.[6] From 1968–71 she was a joint "Father" of the Senate. She resigned from the Senate in 1971 and was made High Commissioner to New Zealand, a post she held to 1974. Following her retirement she returned to Brisbane where she continued to be involved in voluntary organisations.[citation needed]


Rankin died in Brisbane aged 78, on 30 August 1986.[5] She was cremated following a State funeral at St John's Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane.


Annabelle Rankin was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) on 13 June 1957 for political and public services.[7]


The Electoral Division of Rankin, which came into effect at the 1984 election, is named in her honour.


  1. ^ Queensland Registrar-General of Births, Deaths & Marriages
  2. ^ "Howard". Queensland Places. Centre for the Government of Queensland, University of Queensland. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "Brooklyn House" (PDF). Local Heritage Register. Fraser Coast Regional Council. Retrieved 18 September 2013.  External link in |work= (help)
  4. ^ "Rankin, Annabelle Jane Mary (1908 - 1986)". The Australian Women's Register. National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) & University of Melbourne. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Rankin, Annabelle Jane Mary (1908-1986)". Australian Women. National Foundation for Australian Women. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  6. ^ "Suffrage without violence". The Canberra Times. ACT. 10 July 1968. p. 17. 
  7. ^ It's an Honour

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Les Bury
Minister for Housing
Succeeded by
Kevin Cairns
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Ted Hicks
Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand
1971 – 1974
Succeeded by
Brian Clarence Hill