Lyn Allison

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Lyn Allison
Lyn Allison Portrait 2010.jpg
Leader of the Australian Democrats
In office
3 November 2004 – 30 June 2008
Preceded by Andrew Bartlett
Succeeded by position abolished
Senator for Victoria
In office
1 July 1996 – 30 June 2008
Personal details
Born (1946-10-21) 21 October 1946 (age 70)
Melbourne, Victoria
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Democrats
Alma mater University of Melbourne
Occupation Teacher

Lynette Fay "Lyn" Allison (born 21 October 1946) is an Australian politician. She was a member of the Australian Senate from 1996 to 2008, representing the state of Victoria. She was the last federal parliamentary leader of the Australian Democrats.

Early life and background[edit]

Lyn Allison was born in Melbourne, Victoria, and was educated at the University of Melbourne. She was an administrator, secondary school teacher and Director of the Employment and Economic Development Corporation before entering politics. She was a councillor of the City of Port Melbourne 1992–94.[1] Allison is an atheist[2] who spoke first for the affirmative in a 2008 Australian Radio National debate "Would We Be Better Off Without Religion?".[3]

Australian Senate[edit]

An outspoken campaigner on women's issues, Allison won pre-selection on the Democrats ticket, and was elected to the Australian Senate in 1996 and re-elected for a second term in 2001.

Between 1998 and 2006, Lyn Allison served on the Legislation and References Committees for Environment, Recreation (later Information Technology), Communications and the Arts; and for Community Affairs. She served as Senate Select for Superannuation (1996–98); the Victorian Casino Inquiry (1996); the Lucas Heights Reactor (2000); Medicare (2003–04); and Mental Health (2005). In 2002 she was a member of the Parliamentary Delegation to New Zealand.

She was Deputy Leader of the Australian Democrats 2002-04. On 3 November 2004, following the resignation of Andrew Bartlett after the October 2004 election, she was elected unopposed as Leader. She took over the leadership at a time when the Democrats were at their lowest ever public opinion rating since the party was founded in 1977.

On 5 December 2006, Allison introduced into the Senate a bill titled the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Bill 2006, which if enacted would prevent Australia from using, possessing and manufacturing cluster munitions. Two months earlier, she had travelled to Lebanon to survey the damage caused by cluster munition use in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War. Senator Allison, a leading feminist in the Australian parliament, was also among a cross-party group of female parliamentarians who introduced legislation into parliament in 2006 which effectively legalised the supply of the abortion pill RU486.

Senator Allison chaired an inquiry into the health effects of mobile phone towers[4] from 1999 to 2001. She also established a reputation as a strong advocate of federal government funding for public schools and as an advocate for nuclear disarmament.[5]

The 2007 Election[edit]

The 2007 federal election, including a half-Senate election was called for 24 November, and the Democrats national campaign launched in Melbourne, Sen. Allison's home state, on 10 November.[6][7] The official slogan 'bring back balance' referred to the contest for the balance of power in the Senate. Along with three other Democrats senators Natasha Stott-Despoja, Andrew Murray and Andrew Bartlett, Lyn Allison's seat was up for election in this round, and commentators agreed that she faced a serious challenge, particularly from the Greens, Family First and the major parties for her Senate seat, which was considered highly vulnerable after the Democrats disappointing performance in the 2004 election when the last Senate seat was won by Family First. As a result of that election where the government gained control of the senate for the first time in over 25 years, there was significant attention to the Senate contest.[8][9]

During the 2007 election campaign, Lyn Allison announced a national preference deal with the Greens [10] to increase the chance of a progressive party taking the balance of power in the Senate. Senator Allison also joined Bob Brown and Kate Lundy in a joint political advertisement sponsored by GetUp! urging voters to prevent the Senate from becoming a rubber stamp for the government of the day.[11]

During the 2007 election campaign Lyn Allison received the support of a number of community and interest groups such as the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre who gave her an A+ for her support for refugees and asylum seekers;[12] the Friends of the ABC for promoting public broadcasting,[13] as well as endorsements by prominent women and feminists such as Barbara Spalding and Anne Summers.

During 2007 Senator Allison also noticeably increased the representation of young people in the party, with a third of Victorian candidates for the House of Representatives aged under thirty years of age.[14]

In the 2007 federal election, the Democrats, however, failed to retain their position in the Senate, with Lyn Allison among the casualties. Her seat was won by the resurgent Labor Party. Senator Allison's term expired on 30 June 2008.



  1. ^ Ainsley Symons (2012), "The Democrats and Local Government. Were they ever a threat to the ALP?" in Recorder (Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Melbourne Branch) No. 274, Page 7.
  2. ^ Ever Wondered Why God is a Bloke? pp 279-284 in Bonett, Warren (Editor). 2010. The Australian Book of Atheism. Melbourne, Vic: Scribe [1]
  3. ^ Would We Be Better Off Without Religion?,
  4. ^ "Parliament of Australia:Senate:Committees:Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Committee:Inquiry into Electromagnetic Radiation". Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  5. ^ Wells, Tom (1 May 2007). "A madness that threatens us all | Herald Sun". Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  6. ^ "Give us back Senate power: Democrats - Breaking News - National - Breaking News". 10 November 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  7. ^ "Defiant Democrats launch campaign - Federal Election 2007 News". 10 November 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  8. ^ "Democrats' Lyn Allison talks up her chances of winning seat". 8 November 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  9. ^ Mark, David (14 November 2007). "Allison rejects Democrats facing ruin - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  10. ^ "Greens, Democrats agree on preferences swap - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 31 October 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  11. ^ "Labor, Democrats, Greens unite in ad - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 28 October 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  12. ^ "Labor and Coalition score badly on refugees - FederalElection2007News". 3 November 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Squarespace - Claim This Domain". Retrieved 3 September 2015. 


External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Andrew Bartlett
Leader of the Australian Democrats
Last leader
(no longer a parliamentary party)