Florence Cardell-Oliver

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Florence Cardell-Oliver

Florence Cardell-Oliver, MLA for Subiaco, Western Australia, c1936
Florence Cardell-Oliver, MLA for Subiaco, Western Australia, c1936
Member of Parliament
for Subiaco
In office
15 February 1936 – 7 April 1956
Preceded byJohn Moloney
Succeeded byPercival Potter
Minister for Health
In office
7 October 1949 – 7 January 1953
Preceded byArthur Abbott
Succeeded byEmil Nulsen
Personal details
Annie Florence Gillies Wilson

(1876-05-11)11 May 1876
Stawell, Victoria
Died12 January 1965(1965-01-12) (aged 88)
Subiaco, Perth, Western Australia
Resting placeSt Columb Minor Church, Cornwall, England
Political partyNationalist Party of Australia
Liberal Party
Spouse(s)David Sykes Boydan (1895–1902; his death)
Arthur Cardell-Oliver (1902–1929; his death); 2 sons

Dame Annie Florence Gillies Cardell-Oliver, DBE (née Wilson; 11 May 1876 — 12 January 1965) was a Western Australian politician and political activist, often known publicly as simply Florence Cardell-Oliver.[1]

She was the longest-serving female State Parliamentarian in Western Australia, serving in parliament from 15 February 1936 to 7 April 1956, until her record was broken in September 2011 by Liz Constable.[2]


Born Annie Florence Gillies Wilson to Johnston Wilson and Annie Thompson, she married, firstly, David Sykes Boydan. They travelled to England, where David Boydan died on 5 September 1902. Later she remarried, to Arthur Cardell-Oliver and they had two sons. The family migrated to Western Australia and Arthur Cardell-Oliver registered as a doctor in 1912. During the First World War she spoke at recruitment meetings for the armed services.

Her husband, an honorary captain in the Army Medical Corps Reserve, joined the Australian Imperial Force, and served in England before requesting his appointment be terminated. He then set up a medical practice in South Melbourne and retired in 1924 due to ill health. The family travelled to England where he died on 15 September 1929. She was buried beside Arthur in St Columb Minor churchyard, Newquay, Cornwall.[3]

Women activism[edit]

Florence was the first woman to get a full Cabinet rank in Australian parliament, and was thoroughly involved in conservative women's organisations.[4] Through this she made certain acts where she sponsored legislations connecting to the public health of women and children.[4] In 1935, an invite given by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was present at a congress in Istanbul of the International Suffrage Alliance of Women that represented the women in the Australian Federation of Women Voters.[5] Cardell-Oliver was also the first woman to be suspended from the Legislative Assembly, which happened in 1942.[6]

Political career[edit]

Cardell-Oliver unsuccessfully stood for the federal seat of Fremantle against John Curtin in 1934. After this time her husband shortly had died and she decided to move to Western Australia and to become the vice-president of the State branch of the Nationalist Party. In 1934 she published her own book titled "Empire Unity or Red Asiatic Domination?" This outlined the economic measures that she thought would stop communism at the time.[5]

In 1936 Florence was elected as the Nationalist member for Subiaco in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly, and in 1949 became the first Australian woman to attain full cabinet rank when she was made Minister for Health (having been previously an "Honorary" Minister for Supply and Shipping since 1947). Two years later she also became a member of the Select Committee on the Educational System in 1938.[6] Florence was a political women and did much work with what she believed in. In 1939 she organized a campaign to go against free birth-control clinics. On 3 September 1941, she went against her own party, at the time, though unsuccessfully moved for the abolition of the death penalty.[5]

On 1 April 1947 she was met with an honorary minister in the McLarty-Watts Liberal-Country Party government and on 5 January 1948 Florence became the honorary minister for supply and shipping. She retained these portfolios until the government was defeated in February 1953. Influenced by her experiences with undernourished children in London, she sponsored the Free Milk and Nutritional Council, and, as minister, introduced a free-milk scheme for Western Australian schoolchildren. Cardell-Oliver brought the State to the forefront of anti-tuberculosis campaigns by legislating for compulsory chest X-ray examinations.[5] She later retired from her place as a Liberal Party[4] She was, also a delegate to the British Commonwealth League, London.[5]

She was a women's activist in Western Australia between 1936 and 1956 and a party organizer from 1936 to 1956.[citation needed]


  • Hon Minister for Supply and Shipping 5 January 1948 – 7 October 1949[6]
  • Hon Minister 1 April 1947 – 5 January 1948[6]
  • Western Australian Minister for Health, Supply and Shipping in (1949)[7]
  • The oldest person in Western Australia to attain full cabinet rank (1949)[5]
  • Minister for Health, Supply and Shipping 7 October 1949 – 3 February 1953[6]
  • Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1951)[6]



  1. ^ as per and http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/78644/20071105-1315/www.200australianwomen.com/names/089.html
  2. ^ "Liz Constable celebrates 20 years in State Parliament". Ministerial Media Statements, WA. 20 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  3. ^ http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/cardell-oliver-arthur-10006
  4. ^ a b c "Exploring Democracy · Dame Annie Florence Gillies Cardell-Oliver · Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House". explore.moadoph.gov.au. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Black, David. Cardell-Oliver, Dame Annie Florence Gillies (1876–1965). Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "MP Historical Data". www.parliament.wa.gov.au. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  7. ^ Melbourne, National Foundation for Australian Women and The University of. "Cardell-Oliver, Annie Florence Gillies - Woman - The Australian Women's Register". www.womenaustralia.info. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  8. ^ "KarraKatta Club. (1894-) - People and organisations - Trove". trove.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 22 October 2015.

External links[edit]

Western Australian Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
John Moloney
Member for Subiaco
Succeeded by
Percival Potter
Political offices
Preceded by
Arthur Abbott
Minister for Health
Succeeded by
Emil Nulsen
Preceded by
New ministry
Minister for Supply and Shipping
(Honorary Minister before 1949)

Succeeded by
Harry Strickland