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Wednesday, 9 May 2018
Page: 3583


Ms O'DWYER (HigginsMinister for Revenue and Financial Services, Minister for Women and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) (16:00): Farmer, solicitor, mother, senator, wife, minister and trailblazer for Australian women—there can be no doubt that the Hon. Jocelyn Newman AO was a remarkable woman who made a great contribution to our nation. It is with both sadness and admiration that I rise today, just like so many of my colleagues, to mark her passing last month at the age of 80.

Jocelyn was elected to parliament in 1986 and followed in the proud tradition of pioneering Liberal women, including Dame Enid Lyons, the first woman elected to the House of Representatives, and Dame Annabelle Rankin, the first woman to hold ministerial responsibility in the federal parliament. Jocelyn's contributions to Australian women are extensive, both within and beyond the parliament. She was a foundation member of the Women's Electoral Lobby in Sydney. She founded the first women's refuges in Hobart and Launceston. Jocelyn defeated 12 men for nomination to replace Liberal senator Peter Rae, after his resignation. As the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women in the Howard government, she championed measures to get women into small business, along with momentous reforms to the treatment of superannuation after marriage breakdowns and measures to address domestic violence. As the Minister for Women, I feel very strongly that I build on the incredibly strong foundations set out by Jocelyn Newman with her enormous contribution in this space.

Jocelyn was someone who marched to the beat of her own drum. She was courageous, eloquent and upbeat. After suffering herself from breast cancer, she used her public profile to encourage other women to undergo regular health checks. Jocelyn was a firm supporter of a woman's right to make decisions about her own body and her right to have an abortion. She also spoke against the Euthanasia Laws Bill 1996, which was aimed at preventing the Northern Territory, the ACT and Norfolk Island from passing laws allowing euthanasia. She said:

… I wish to have the right to knowingly choose the time of my death and the circumstances in which I die. Even more so, I passionately want to have that right for those I love.

On these sensitive issues, her views were informed by her strongly held belief in personal choice. You see, Jocelyn was a warrior for the Liberal Party and for its values. Throughout her life, she fought for greater individual freedom, for choice and for lower taxation. In her first speech in the Senate, she exclaimed:

My Party stands for the free citizen …

Like her husband, Kevin, and her son, Campbell, Jocelyn gave much to public life, serving as a senator for Tasmania for 15 years. In addition to her time as Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women, she also served as Minister for Social Security and Minister for Family and Community Services during the Howard government, and she was of course a member of the Howard cabinet.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that Jocelyn's contribution to the Liberal Party, to Tasmania and to Australia was by all measures considerable and enduring. And I was privileged to hear former Prime Minister John Howard also speak very movingly about Jocelyn at her state funeral very recently, where he talked of her compassion, her absolute determination and her ability to focus very much on outcomes and on delivery. And two of her granddaughters spoke lovingly of their grandmother, both the private woman and the public woman that she was. Our thoughts are with Jocelyn's family, including her two children, Campbell and Kate, and granddaughters, Rebecca, Sarah, Emma and Samantha. What an inspiring figure she was for those four girls. We hope that they can take comfort in her substantial legacy, which lives on for all Australians. Vale, Jocelyn Newman.