Dear Labor, Liberal Women have always led the way


By Beverley McArthur MP

Despite what the Labor Party – and the weirdly Woke may think – Conservative and Liberal women have always been leaders in politics, the original breakers of the glass ceiling. 

However, International Women’s Day yesterday brought about the expected self-glorification by the Australian Labor Party about its female activism. 

Member for Western Victoria, and Assistant Shadow Minister for Scrutiny of Government, Bev McArthur said, Labor’s claims of leading the way are simply fanciful and naive. 

“Yesterday, I couldn’t help but listen to the Federal Member for Lilley, Labor’s Anika Wells, waxing lyrical about Ros Kelly, a former Labor MP, being Australia’s first female Minister,” Mrs McArthur told the Victorian Parliament. 

“She wasn’t. 

“Australia’s first female minister was actually Dame Enid Lyons in the Menzies Government – well before Ms Kelly, and before quotas and well before International Women’s Day.

“Ms Kelly, famous for organising a sports funding rort on a white board, was indeed Labor’s first female minister. 

“And while the Labor Party continually stratifies the superlatives on the Whitlam Government, it was once again, the Liberal Prime Minister Menzies who first had women in his Cabinet, and Whitlam had none,” Mrs McArthur advised the Victorian Parliament. 

Mrs McArthur said it was time the Labor Party, and its Minister for Women, delivered accuracy and honesty in reporting the true history of women in politics in Australia. 

Just one day after Labor’s self-congratulatory histrionics, its former Victorian Legislative Council MP, Kaushaliya Vaghela, was raising serious complaints in the Parliament about bullying of her by men and women within the Labor Party. 

Mrs McArthur said while Labor talks about celebrating women, the Liberal Party walks it. 

“I couldn’t help but refer to my list of non-Labor female firsts,” she said, before listing the following: 

  • First female federal Cabinet Minister (without portfolio) – Hon Dame Enid Lyons in 1951 – Liberal 
  • First female federal Minister with portfolio – Hon Dame Annabelle Rankin between 1966-68 – Liberal 
  • First female in any Parliament – Edith Cowan OBE (WA State) 1921-24 – National 
  • First female in Qld Parliament – Irene Longman 1929 
  • First female in Vic Parliament – Lady (Millicent) Peacock 1933-35   
  • First female federal MP – Hon Dame Enid Lyons AD, 1943-51  
  • First female Senator from Queensland – Hon Dame Annabelle Rankin 1947-71 
  • First female Cabinet Minister in Australia (WA State) – Hon Dame Florence Cardell-Oliver 1949-53. 
  • First female Mayor in Qld – Nell Robinson OBE, Mayor of Toowoomba 1967-81   
  • First federal female Cabinet Minister with portfolio – Hon Dame Margaret Guilfoyle AC, DBE 1975-82 (Liberal, Victoria) 
  • First female Lord Mayor of Brisbane – Sallyanne Atkinson AO 1985-92  
  • First female Lord Mayor of Sydney – Lucy Turnbull AO  2003-2004   
  • First female party leader in SA – Isobel Redmond 2009-2012  
  • First female Speaker of Tasmanian House of Assembly – Hon Elise Archer MLA 2014-17 (Liberal)  
  • First popularly elected female Premier of NSW – Hon Gladys Berejiklian (Liberal) 2019-2021 

“Labor doesn’t own womens’ successes, it just peacocks the politics of it. 

“Others, such as the Liberal Party, treat women as equals and celebrates merit-based appointments. 

“The women I know, neither need nor want a social, or workplace artifice, or false applause. 

“When Liberal women such as Dame Enid Lyons broke through that glass ceiling, they did so without much noise, but shouted their success through their outstanding work standards and quiet resolve.” 09 March 2022

Contact:  Bev McArthur MP –

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