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Monday, 22 June 2009
Page: 6801

Ms PARKE (6:50 PM) —I had the pleasure this weekend of travelling to Gulgong in New South Wales to speak at the Gulgong branch Country Labor Party Louisa Lawson dinner. Louisa Lawson was Australia’s first woman publisher. She established and edited the Dawn magazine for women. She is also credited with being the originator of the suffrage campaign. Louisa frequently asked in her Dawn magazine, ‘Who ordained that men only should make the laws which both women and men must obey? Pray, why should one half of the world govern the other half?’

In addition to campaigning for a political voice for women, Louisa subsidised courses for women at technical colleges, advocated for the establishment of hospitals for homeless and battered women, championed the rights of workers and the poor and strongly supported an Australian republic. Louisa’s achievements are not widely known outside of Gulgong and Mudgee, where she grew up. Although she was a worthy poet herself, her life and works have been largely overshadowed by her famous son, Henry Lawson.

I am grateful to the Gulgong branch for preserving Louisa’s memory through an annual dinner in her name. I particularly want to thank Alex and Debbie Lithgow, John Kotlash and Vicky Smith, Jack and Margaret Foreman, Colin and Trish McDonald, Sandra and Owen Power, John Curry, Merryl Dillon and also my parliamentary colleague Senator Steve Hutchins. I also thank Chris Cooke for the wonderful tour of the Henry Lawson Centre in Gulgong, and I was happy to learn that the centre is planning to add an extension devoted to Louisa Lawson.