Women in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly

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There have been 69 women in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly since its establishment in 1856. Women have had the right to vote in the assembly since 1902 and the right to stand as a candidate since 1918.

The first successful candidate for the Legislative Assembly was Millicent Preston-Stanley, who was elected as a Nationalist representative for the multi-member electorate of Eastern Suburbs in 1925, but only lasted one term before being defeated. Fourteen years later, Mary Quirk held the seat of Balmain for Labor after the death of her husband, becoming the first Labor woman in the Assembly. However, successful women candidates in the Legislative Assembly remained few and far between until the 1980s.

In the early 1980s, women began to break through into senior positions in the state; Janice Crosio became the first woman to serve as a minister in state parliament, serving in the Wran Labor ministry, and she was followed on the conservative side of politics by Rosemary Foot, who served as the deputy leader of the Liberal Party for a time. In 1996, Liberal Kerry Chikarovski became the first woman to lead a major party in New South Wales, although she was deposed in 2003.

In 2009, Labor's Kristina Keneally became the first woman to serve as Premier of New South Wales. Both the offices of Premier and Deputy Premier were held by women from 2009 until 2011, the first in Australian history. In 2011, Shelley Hancock was elected as the first female Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. In 2017, Gladys Berejiklian became the first Liberal woman to be elected as Premier of New South Wales and first female Liberal premier of any Australian state.

While there had been a number of women elected to the Legislative Council throughout the middle of the twentieth century, it was only at the 1988 state election that numbers began to grow in the Legislative Assembly. Seven women had been elected in the previous 132 years; six more joined them the 1988 election. Numbers have improved substantially in recent years, with women now occupying 27 Assembly seats in the current parliament. Linda Burney is the only Indigenous Australian woman to have been elected to the New South Wales Parliament.

List of women in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly[edit]

Names in bold indicate women who have been appointed as Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries during their time in Parliament. Names in italics indicate entry into Parliament through a by-election and * symbolises members that have sat as members in both the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council.

Name Party Electoral district Period of service
Millicent Preston-Stanley Nationalist Eastern Suburbs 30 May 1925 – 7 September 1927 (defeated)
Mary Quirk Labor Balmain 14 January 1939 – 22 May 1950 (defeated)
Lilian Fowler Lang Labor Newtown 27 May 1944 – 22 May 1950 (defeated)
Mary Meillon Liberal Murray 10 October 1973 – 9 June 1980 (died)
Rosemary Foot Liberal Vaucluse 7 October 1978 – 13 February 1986 (retired)
Janice Crosio Labor Fairfield 19 September 1981 – 16 February 1990 (resigned)
Wendy Machin National Gloucester
Manning
Port Macquarie
12 October 1985 – 28 August 1996 (resigned)
Pam Allan Labor Wentworthville
Blacktown
19 March 1988 – 4 March 2007 (retired)
Anne Cohen Liberal Minchinbury
Badgerys Creek
19 March 1988 – 3 March 1995 (defeated)
Dawn Fraser Independent Balmain 19 March 1988 – 3 May 1991 (defeated)
Clover Moore Independent Bligh
Sydney
19 March 1988 – 20 September 2012 (resigned)
Sandra Nori Labor McKell
Port Jackson
19 March 1988 – 2 March 2007 (retired)
Robyn Read Independent North Shore 5 November 1988 – 3 May 1991 (defeated)
Deirdre Grusovin * Labor Heffron 23 June 1990 – 20 March 2003 (retired)
Kerry Chikarovski Liberal Lane Cove 25 May 1991 – 20 March 2003 (retired)
Liz Kernohan Liberal Camden 25 May 1991 – 20 March 2003 (retired)
Faye Lo Po' Labor Penrith 25 May 1991 – 20 March 2003 (retired)
Jillian Skinner Liberal North Shore 5 February 1994 – 20 February 2017 (resigned)
Gabrielle Harrison Labor Parramatta 27 August 1994 – 20 March 2003 (retired)
Reba Meagher Labor Cabramatta 22 October 1994 – 17 September 2008 (resigned)
Marie Andrews Labor Peats
Gosford
25 March 1995 – 4 March 2011 (retired)
Diane Beamer Labor Badgerys Creek
Mulgoa
25 March 1995 – 4 March 2011 (retired)
Marie Ficarra Liberal Georges River 25 March 1995 – 5 March 1999 (defeated)
Jill Hall Labor Swansea 25 March 1995 – 1 September 1998 (resigned)
Peta Seaton Liberal Southern Highlands 25 May 1996 – 2 March 2007 (retired)
Lorna Stone Liberal Sutherland 20 December 1997 – 5 March 1999 (defeated)
Cherie Burton Labor Kogarah 27 March 1999 – 6 March 2015 (retired)
Katrina Hodgkinson National Burrinjuck
Cootamundra
27 March 1999 –
Alison Megarrity Labor Menai 27 March 1999 – 4 March 2011 (retired)
Marianne Saliba Labor Illawarra 27 March 1999 – 2 March 2007 (retired)
Barbara Perry Labor Auburn 8 September 2001 – 6 March 2015 (retired)
Judy Hopwood Liberal Hornsby 23 February 2002 – 4 March 2011 (retired)
Gladys Berejiklian Liberal Willoughby 22 March 2003 –
Linda Burney Labor Canterbury 22 March 2003 – 6 May 2016 (resigned)
Angela D'Amore Labor Drummoyne 22 March 2003 – 4 March 2011 (retired)
Tanya Gadiel Labor Parramatta 22 March 2003 – 4 March 2011 (retired)
Shelley Hancock Liberal South Coast 22 March 2003 –
Noreen Hay Labor Wollongong 22 March 2003 – 31 August 2016 (resigned)
Virginia Judge Labor Strathfield 22 March 2003 – 4 March 2011 (defeated)
Kristina Keneally Labor Heffron 22 March 2003 – 29 June 2012 (resigned)
Karyn Paluzzano Labor Penrith 22 March 2003 – 7 May 2010 (resigned)
Dawn Fardell Independent Dubbo 20 November 2004 – 4 March 2011 (defeated)
Carmel Tebbutt* Labor Marrickville 17 September 2005 – 5 March 2015 (retired)
Verity Firth Labor Balmain 24 March 2007 – 4 March 2011 (defeated)
Pru Goward Liberal Goulburn 24 March 2007 –
Sonia Hornery Labor Wallsend 24 March 2007 –
Jodi McKay Labor Newcastle
Strathfield
24 March 2007 – 4 March 2011 (defeated)
28 March 2015 –
Lylea McMahon Labor Shellharbour 24 March 2007 – 4 March 2011 (retired)
Tanya Davies Liberal Mulgoa 26 March 2011 –
Melanie Gibbons Liberal Menai
Holsworthy
26 March 2011 –
Tania Mihailuk Labor Bankstown 26 March 2011 –
Robyn Parker * Liberal Maitland 26 March 2011 – 6 March 2015 (retired)
Roza Sage Liberal Blue Mountains 26 March 2011 – 6 March 2015 (defeated)
Gabrielle Upton Liberal Vaucluse 26 March 2011 –
Anna Watson Labor Shellharbour 26 March 2011 –
Leslie Williams National Port Macquarie 26 March 2011 –
Jodie Harrison Labor Charlestown 26 October 2014 –
Jenny Aitchison Labor Maitland 28 March 2015 –
Prue Car Labor Londonderry 28 March 2015 –
Yasmin Catley Labor Swansea 28 March 2015 –
Trish Doyle Labor Blue Mountains 28 March 2015 –
Julia Finn Labor Granville 28 March 2015 –
Jo Haylen Labor Summer Hill 28 March 2015 –
Jenny Leong Greens Newtown 28 March 2015 –
Eleni Petinos Liberal Miranda 28 March 2015 –
Melinda Pavey* National Oxley 28 March 2015 –
Kathy Smith Labor Gosford 28 March 2015 – 14 February 2017 (resigned)
Tamara Smith Greens Ballina 28 March 2015 –
Kate Washington Labor Port Stephens 28 March 2015 –
Sophie Cotsis* Labor Canterbury 12 November 2016 –

Timeline[edit]

Sophie Cotsis Kate Washington Tamara Smith Kathy Smith (politician) Melinda Pavey Eleni Petinos Jodi McKay Jenny Leong Jo Haylen Julia Finn Trish Doyle Yasmin Catley Prue Car Jenny Aitchison Jodie Harrison Leslie Williams (politician) Anna Watson (politician) Gabrielle Upton Roza Sage Robyn Parker Tania Mihailuk Melanie Gibbons Tanya Davies Lylea McMahon Jodi McKay Sonia Hornery Pru Goward Verity Firth Carmel Tebbutt Dawn Fardell Karyn Paluzzano Kristina Keneally Virginia Judge Noreen Hay Shelley Hancock Tanya Gadiel Angela D'Amore Linda Burney Gladys Berejiklian Judy Hopwood Barbara Perry (politician) Marianne Saliba Alison Megarrity Katrina Hodgkinson Cherie Burton Lorna Stone Peta Seaton Jill Hall Marie Ficarra Diane Beamer Marie Andrews Reba Meagher Gabrielle Harrison Jillian Skinner Faye Lo Po' Liz Kernohan Kerry Chikarovski Deirdre Grusovin Robyn Read Sandra Nori Clover Moore Dawn Fraser Anne Cohen Pam Allan Wendy Machin Janice Crosio Rosemary Foot Mary Meillon Lilian Fowler Mary Quirk Millicent Preston-Stanley

Proportion of women in the Assembly[edit]

Numbers and proportions are as they were directly after the relevant election and do not take into account by-elections, defections or other changes in membership. The Liberal column also includes that party's predecessors, the Nationalist, United Australia and Democratic parties.

Term Labor Liberal National Others Total
Women Total % Women Total % Women Total % Women Total % Women Total %
1925–1927 0 46 0.0% 1 32 3.1% 0 9 0.0% 0 3 0.0% 1 90 1.1%
1927–1930 0 40 0.0% 0 33 0.0% 0 13 0.0% 0 4 0.0% 0 90 0.0%
1930–1932 0 55 0.0% 0 23 0.0% 0 12 0.0% 0 0 0.0% 0 90 0.0%
1932–1935 0 24 0.0% 0 41 0.0% 0 25 0.0% 0 0 0.0% 0 90 0.0%
1935–1938 0 29 0.0% 0 38 0.0% 0 23 0.0% 0 0 0.0% 0 90 0.0%
1938–1941 0 28 0.0% 0 37 0.0% 0 22 0.0% 0 3 0.0% 0 90 0.0%
1941–1944 1 54 1.9% 0 14 0.0% 0 12 0.0% 0 10 0.0% 1 90 1.1%
1944–1947 1 56 1.8% 0 12 0.0% 0 10 0.0% 1 12 8.3% 2 90 2.2%
1947–1950 1 52 1.9% 0 19 0.0% 0 15 0.0% 1 4 25.0% 2 90 2.2%
1950–1953 0 46 0.0% 0 29 0.0% 0 17 0.0% 0 2 0.0% 0 94 0.0%
1953–1956 0 57 0.0% 0 22 0.0% 0 14 0.0% 0 1 0.0% 0 94 0.0%
1956–1959 0 50 0.0% 0 27 0.0% 0 15 0.0% 0 2 0.0% 0 94 0.0%
1959–1962 0 49 0.0% 0 28 0.0% 0 16 0.0% 0 1 0.0% 0 94 0.0%
1962–1965 0 54 0.0% 0 25 0.0% 0 14 0.0% 0 1 0.0% 0 94 0.0%
1965–1968 0 45 0.0% 0 31 0.0% 0 16 0.0% 0 2 0.0% 0 94 0.0%
1968–1971 0 39 0.0% 0 36 0.0% 0 17 0.0% 0 2 0.0% 0 94 0.0%
1971–1973 0 45 0.0% 0 32 0.0% 0 17 0.0% 0 2 0.0% 0 96 0.0%
1973–1976 0 44 0.0% 1 34 2.9% 0 18 0.0% 0 3 0.0% 1 99 1.0%
1976–1978 0 50 0.0% 1 30 3.3% 0 18 0.0% 0 1 0.0% 1 99 1.0%
1978–1981 0 63 0.0% 2 18 11.1% 0 17 0.0% 0 1 0.0% 2 99 2.0%
1981–1984 1 69 1.4% 1 14 7.1% 0 14 0.0% 0 2 0.0% 2 99 2.0%
1984–1988 1 58 1.7% 1 22 4.5% 0 15 0.0% 0 4 0.0% 2 99 2.0%
1988–1991 3 43 7.0% 1 39 2.6% 1 20 5.0% 2 7 28.6% 7 109 6.4%
1991–1995 4 46 8.7% 3 32 9.4% 1 17 5.9% 1 4 25.0% 9 99 9.1%
1995–1999 9 50 18.0% 4 29 13.8% 1 17 5.9% 1 3 33.3% 15 99 15.2%
1999–2003 11 55 22.0% 4 20 20.0% 1 13 7.7% 1 5 20.0% 17 93 18.3%
2003–2007 16 55 29.1% 5 20 25.0% 1 12 8.3% 1 6 16.7% 23 93 24.7%
2007–2011 18 52 34.6% 5 22 22.7% 1 13 7.7% 2 6 33.3% 26 93 28.0%
2011–2015 9 20 45.0% 9 51 17.6% 2 18 11.1% 1 4 25.0% 21 93 22.6%
2015–2019 15 34 44.1% 7 37 18.9% 3 17 17.6% 2 5 40.0% 27 93 29.0%

See also[edit]