Meredith Burgmann

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Meredith Burgmann
Dr Meredith Burgmann.jpg
President of the New South Wales Legislative Council
In office
11 May 1999 – 2 March 2007
Member of Legislative Council of New South Wales
In office
25 May 1991 – 23 March 2007
Personal details
Born (1947-07-26) 26 July 1947 (age 75)
Beecroft, New South Wales, Australia
Political partyLabor Party
  • Glen Batchelor
    (m. 1985; div. 1990)
RelationsVerity (sister)
Children1 (m)
Alma materSydney University (BA, MA), Macquarie University (PhD)

Meredith Anne Burgmann AM (born 26 July 1947) is an Australian politician and Labor Party member and a former President of the New South Wales Legislative Council.

Early years[edit]

Burgmann was born in July 1947 at Beecroft, New South Wales to parents Victor Dudley Burgmann (son of Canberra Anglican bishop Ernest Henry Burgmann) and Lorna Constance Bradbury.[1] Her late father was a chairman of the CSIRO. Her sister is Verity Burgmann.

She attended Blackfriars Correspondence School and Abbotsleigh School in Sydney, where she was headgirl.[2]

She attended Sydney University and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in 1969, majoring in English and Government. She continued her studies at the University and obtained a Master of Arts in 1973 specialising in Foreign Policy. In 1981 she completed her doctorate on Industrial Relations at Macquarie University.[1] She became the first female President of the National Tertiary Education Union.[3][4]

Burgmann joined the Australian Labor Party in 1971. She was involved in the Industrial Relations Committee between 1990 and 1995, the Foreign Affairs Committee between 1986 and 1990, as well as being a delegate to the Sydney Federal Executive Council.[1] She was a Member of the New South Wales Labor Council between 1978 and 1991 and also of the ACTU Congress between 1983 and 1989.[3]

She was a tutor and lecturer at Macquarie University from 1974, and became a senior lecturer at Macquarie University in 1989 and remained in that role until 1991.[5] She taught Industrial Relations and Politics.[1][4]

In 1985 she married Glen Batchelor and they have one son. Batchelor and Burgmann divorced in 1990.[1]

Political career[edit]

Some of her first forays into politics have been as an activist. She has been arrested 21 times and spent time in prison for running onto the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1971 during the Springboks tour.[6] She claims to be the only person sent to prison for running onto a sporting field during a major sporting event.[6]

She was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council on 25 May 1991.[7]}} As an upper house member of parliament, she served as the chair on the Parliamentary Privileges and Ethics Committee. In that committee, she led an inquiry into certain paedophile conspiracy allegations made by the former politician Franca Arena.[8] It was generally acknowledged that the committee observed procedural fairness during that inquiry[8] and that her time as a politician has shown her to be an "independent and intellectual member" of the New South Wales Parliament.[9]

On 8 April 1999, she was elected as the President of the Council to replace the retiring President Virginia Chadwick.[9] She was elected as President of the Council on 11 May.[1]

As President, she continued to reduce the size and the scale of the traditional opening of State Parliament. For the 1999 opening, she axed the 29-gun salute and she invited just three ambassadors, one from Thailand and the other two from Cuba and Vietnam. That was criticised for being left leaning since the last two nations have communist governments.[2][10] She further angered monarchists by ordering the removal of the Queen's portrait from the President's Office and replacing it with an Aboriginal dot painting.[2]

She retired as President on 27 March 2007, at the expiry of her term as a member of the Council.[1] She is the longest serving female presiding officer in Australia.[11]

She is aunt to the comedian Charles Firth and to former New South Wales Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Climate Change and the Environment and Minister for Women, Verity Firth.[1]

Later life[edit]

In the September 2008 New South Wales Council elections, Burgmann ran for the positions of Lord Mayor and councillor in the City of Sydney Council.[12] She was defeated in the mayoral ballot by incumbent Lord Mayor Clover Moore,[13] becoming Labor's only councillor on the Council.[12] She retired from the council in 2012.[14] Burgmann is also a Consultant to the United Nations Development Program.[5]

Burgmann was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2020 Australia Day Honours for "significant service to the people and Parliament of New South Wales."[14][15]

Burgmann was an Ambassador for the Sydney Swans from 2005 until 2018.[14] Burgmann was the President of the Australian Council for International Development, the peak body for the Australian NGO international aid and development sector, from 2008 until 2012.[14]


In 1993, Burgmann started the Ernie Awards to draw attention to comments regarded as misogynist, and in 2007 published with Yvette Andrews The Ernies Book: 1000 Terrible Things Australian Men Have Said About Women.[16] She has also published articles on industrial, environmental and Aboriginal rights issues.

In 1998 Burgmann and her sister Verity wrote Green Bans, Red Union: Environmental Activism and the New South Wales Builders Labourers' Federation.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Hon. Dr Meredith Anne Burgmann, AM (1947-  )". Former Members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  2. ^ a b c The show goes on for Meredith. Miranda Devine. 26 August 1999 Daily Telegraph
  3. ^ a b "Burgmann, Meredith (1947 - )". Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 22 May 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b Who’s Who Australia
  6. ^ a b "Clover Moore vs Meredith Burgmann - Sydney Council Elections". Archived from the original on 31 December 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2008.
  7. ^ Green, Antony. "Electing the Legislative Council 1978-1995" (PDF). ABC Election Archives.
  8. ^ a b From protest in ambition. By Mark Robinson And Katrina Beikoff. 8 April 1999 Daily Telegraph
  9. ^ a b Upper hand. 8 April 1999 Daily Telegraph
  10. ^ No pomp, just a few unusual guests. David Penberthy. 8 September 1999 Daily Telegraph
  11. ^ "Part Ten - Officers of Parliament" (PDF). NSW Parliamentary Record. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 December 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "City election results announced". Archived from the original on 1 October 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2008.
  14. ^ a b c d "Member of the Order of Australia (AM) entry for The Honourable Dr Meredith Anne Burgmann". It's an Honour, Australian Honours Database. Canberra, Australia: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 January 2020. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  15. ^ Stehle, Mark (25 January 2020). "Australia Day Honours 2020: Full list of recipients". Sydney Morning Herald. Nine Entertainment Co. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  16. ^ Burgmann, Meredith; Andrews, Yvette (2007). The Ernies Book: 1000 terrible things Australian men have said about women. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-74176-539-7.
  17. ^ Burgmann, Meredith; Burgmann, Verity (1998). Green Bans, Red Union: Environmental Activism and the New South Wales Builders Labourers' Federation. UNSW Press. ISBN 978-0-86840-760-9.