Doris Blackburn

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Doris Blackburn
Doris Blackburn.jpg
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Bourke
In office
28 September 1946 – 10 December 1949
Preceded by Bill Bryson
Succeeded by Seat abolished
Personal details
Born Doris Amelia Hordern
(1889-09-18)18 September 1889
Melbourne, Victoria
Died 12 December 1970(1970-12-12) (aged 81)
Coburg, Victoria
Nationality Australian
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Maurice Blackburn
(1914 to 1944-his death)

Doris Amelia Blackburn (née Hordern) (18 September 1889 – 12 December 1970) was an Australian political activist and member of parliament.

Early life[edit]

Born in Hawthorn, Melbourne, Victoria to Lebbeus Hordern, estate agent, and his wife Louisa Dewson (née Smith), Doris Hordern became involved in women's rights and peace issues from a young age and served as the campaign secretary of Vida Goldstein, the first woman to stand for election to federal parliament in Australia. She married Maurice Blackburn, a fellow firebrand socialist, in Melbourne on 10 December 1914[1] and spent their honeymoon organising anti-war and anti-conscription campaigns.


While her husband served at different times as an Australian Labor Party (ALP) member of the Victorian and Federal parliaments, Blackburn continued to work on social issues, some of which brought her into conflict with the Labor Party (of which she too was a member) and following Maurice's expulsion from the party in 1937, she resigned from the ALP. Her husband continued to sit in parliament as an independent but lost his seat at the 1943 federal election to the official Labor candidate, and died the following year.[2]


Upset at Labor's treatment of her husband, Doris stood as an Independent Labour candidate for Maurice's old seat of Bourke at the 1946 election, and by winning it she became only the second woman to be elected to the Australian House of Representatives.[3]

In parliament Blackburn, who shared the cross benches with fellow former Labor member Jack Lang,[4] championed similar issues to those of her late husband, gaining nationwide notoriety in 1947 as the only MP to vote against the Atomic Energy Bill.[clarification needed] She served as the national President of the Council for Civil Liberties. Following an electoral redistribution, her seat of Bourke was abolished, and at the 1949 election she contested the newly established seat of Wills. In a contest with both the Labor and Liberal parties she came third with 20 percent. Standing in Wills again at the 1951 election she also came third with 17 percent of the vote. Both times the seat was convincingly won by Labor.[citation needed]


Blackburn subsequently remained active in social issues, serving as president of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Realising the problems faced by Aborigines, following a visit to the Woomera Rocket Range, she co-founded, with Douglas Nicholls, the Aborigines Advancement League and the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement.[1]


Blackburn died on 12 December 1970 in Coburg, Victoria, aged 81, survived by her two sons and one of her two daughters.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Rasmussen, Carolyn. "Blackburn, Doris Amelia (1889–1970)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 7 February 2015.  Published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993
  2. ^ Blackburn Abeyasekere, Susan. "Blackburn, Maurice McCrae (1880–1944)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 7 February 2015.  Published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979.
  3. ^ Our Political Writer (24 October 1946). "Mrs. Blackburn: New Federal Figure" (digitised). The West Australian. p. 7. Retrieved 7 February 2015 – via Mrs. Blackburn has the honour of being the second woman to enter; the House of Representatives; the other is Dame Enid Lyons, ... 
  4. ^ Daly, Fred (1977). From Curtin to Kerr. Sun Books, Melbourne. ISBN 978-0-7251-0258-6. Retrieved 7 February 2015. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Bill Bryson
Member for Bourke
Division abolished