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Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Page: 2047


Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (12:07): It is with great respect I rise today to speak about Joan Child AO who was the first woman to be Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives, and what a marvellous achievement that was. What a pioneer she was. What a trailblazer she was. Up until the election of Anna Burke on 9 October last year she was the only female Speaker of the lower House. The woman I succeeded as the member for Riverina, Kay Hull, was a trailblazer as well, not just for the National Party but in so many aspects of her life. She had the utmost respect for Joan Child as a person and certainly as a politician. I spoke this morning to John Sullivan, who was the tenth member for Riverina. Mr Sullivan, from Narrandera, served the electorate from 1974 to 1977, a period which overlapped with some of the time that Joan Child served in the House of Representatives. He recalled Joan Child as someone who always stood up for her rights, who never forgot that she came from Yackandandah in Victoria. She never forgot her regional origins. She was someone who, in John Sullivan's words, blossomed in her political life by becoming the House Speaker and always did the right thing, not just by the parliament and not just by her electorate, but by the Labor Party. Mr Sullivan said that she was 'old Labor' and there was a great respect for those people who have those old Labor values, those old Labor principles. Whilst he did not agree with everything that the old Labor style politicians espoused, he certainly had great admiration for the fact that you knew where you stood with them. They meant what they said and they said what they meant.

Sadly, Joan Child passed away on 23 February. She leaves a great legacy. She was a pioneer. Her family will miss her greatly. We will always remember her for her wonderful achievements in this place and for being the wonderful role model that she was. The fact that she was the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives will live on in the memory of this place.