Dame Enid Lyons paved way for other women to make mark in Australian politics

Nationals Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin has celebrated the life of Dame Enid Lyons by stating women have come a long way in politics since the fellow Tasmanian became the first woman to be elected to the House of Representatives in 1943.

Senator Martin said the swearing in of the first female Muslim senator, Mehreen Faruqi, this week showed that more women were representing the views of a more diverse Australia since Dame Enid Lyons first took office.

“Senator Mehreen Faruqi not only became the first female Muslim to sit in the Senate, but was also the 100th woman to take a seat in the Chamber,” said Senator Martin as he prepared to attend the Enid Lyons Gala Dinner at Old Parliament House tonight.

“The pioneering Dame Enid Lyons paved the way for more and more women to take seats in the Australian Parliament with 209 women now having served in the Commonwealth Parliament.

“Dame Enid Lyons was instrumental in championing the causes of women and families through her work for the extension of child endowment, pushing for the free media treatment for pensioners and the free distribution of life-saving drugs.

“It is fitting in celebrating the life of Dame Enid Lyons and by marking the swearing in of Australia’s first female Muslim Senator that I encourage more women to take up the challenge of representing the people of Australia with a career in politics.”

Senator Martin said Dame Enid Lyons was elected to the seat of Darwin on 21 August 1943, and re-elected in 1946 and 1949 with increased majorities. She resigned in 1951. Dame Enid Lyons was appointed Dame of the Order of Australia on Australia Day 1980. Dame Enid Lyons died the following year.

“The legacy of Dame Enid Lyons lives on through her work in the Commonwealth Parliament with the electoral division of Lyons in Tasmania named in her honour, and that of her husband and former prime minister, Joseph,” Senator Martin said.