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Update on selected Australian political records.



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D e p a r t m e n t o f t h e P a r l i a m e n t a r y L i b r a r y

RESEARCH NOTE Number 13, 1998-99 ISSN 1328-8016 Update on Selected Australian Political Records This Note is designed to answer those frequently asked questions about who was the first, youngest, oldest, most often, etc. in Australian federal politics. The information is current as at 1 February 1999 and has been compiled from sources including the Parliamentary Handbook, Hansard, the Australian Dictionary of Biography and State parliamentary handbooks. First Governor-General Rt Hon. John Adrian Louis Hope, 7th Earl of Hopetoun who served from 1 January 1901 to 9 January 1903. First Australian-born Governor-General Rt Hon. Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs who served from 22 January 1931 to 23 January 1936. Parliament first opened In Melbourne on 9 May 1901. It moved to the provisional Parliament House in Canberra on 9 May 1927 and then to the present Parliament House on 9 May 1988. Youngest person in the House of Representatives Edwin Corboy (ALP, Swan, WA) was elected at a by-election on 26 October 1918 aged 22 years 2 months and served until defeated at the next election on 13 December 1919. The youngest person elected to any Australian parliament was Matthew Smith (LP, Franklin) who was elected to the Tasmanian House of Assembly on 29 August 1998 aged 20 years 5 months. Youngest person in the Senate Senator Bill O'Chee (National, Qld) was appointed under section 15 of the Constitution on 8 May 1990 aged 24 years 10 months. The youngest person actually elected was Senator Natasha Stott Despoja (AD, SA) on 2 March 1996 aged 26 years 5 months. She had been appointed to the Senate on 29 November 1995. Oldest person first elected to the House of Representatives Sir Edward Braddon (Free Trade, Tasmania and later Wilmot, Tas) was elected at the age of 71 years 9 months and served from 29 March

1901 until his death on 2 February 1904.

Oldest person appointed to the Senate Senator John Verran (Nationalist, SA) was appointed under section 15 of the Constitution aged 71 years 1 month and served from 30 August 1927 to 16 November 1928.

First woman political candidate Catherine Helen Spence in 1897 when she ran for the National Australasian Convention. She came 22nd out of 33 candidates and was not elected.

Women first eligible to vote and sit in the Commonwealth Parliament Women in SA and WA had been granted the right to vote before Federation and so were eligible to vote in the first Commonwealth election on 29-30 March 1901. All women became eligible to vote through the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 which came into effect on 12 June 1902. Thus, the first election at which every woman could vote and stand for the Commonwealth Parliament was that of 16 December 1903.

First women candidates for the House of Representatives Selina Anderson (Protectionist) for Dalley, NSW, at the 16 December 1903 election. Selina Anderson was also a candidate under her maiden name of Siggins for the Country Party in the seat of Calare at the 16 December 1922 election.

First women elected to Parliament Dame Enid Lyons (UAP and later LP, Darwin, Tas) was elected to the House of Representatives on 21 August 1943 and retired on 19 March 1951. On the same date Senator Dame Dorothy Tangney (ALP, WA) was elected to the Senate and served to 19 March 1951 and then from 28 April 1951 to 30 June 1968. The first woman elected to any Australian parliament was Edith Cowan (Nationalist, West Perth) who was elected to the WA Legislative Assembly on 12 March

1921 and served until 22 March 1924.

First Aboriginal appointed and elected to Parliament Senator Neville Bonner (LP and later IND, Qld) was appointed on 11 June 1971 under section 15 of the Constitution and returned at the next election on 18 May 1974. He served until 4 February 1983.

Oldest and longest serving Member of Parliament William Morris Hughes entered Parliament aged 38 years 6 months on 29 March 1901 and died aged 90 years 1 month on 28 October 1952 whilst still a member. He served for 51 years 7 months representing a number of electorates and various parties.

Shortest serving Member of Parliament Charles Howroyd (Nationalist, Darwin, Tas) died on 10 May 1917 five days after being elected on 5 May 1917. He never sat in Parliament.

First Prime Minister Sir Edmund Barton (Protectionist, Hunter, NSW) served from 1 January 1901 to 4 September 1903.

Youngest person to become Prime Minister John Watson (ALP, Bland, NSW) became Prime Minister aged 37 and served from 27 April 1904 to 17 August 1904.

Oldest person to become Prime Minister Sir John McEwen (Country Party, Murray, Vic) became Prime Minister aged 67 years 8 months after Harold Holt's death and served from 19 December 1967 to 10 January 1968 when Senator John Gorton (LP, Vic) was elected as Leader by the Liberal Party. He was the first and only Senator to become Prime Minister.

Longest serving Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies (LP, Kooyong, Vic) was Prime Minister for 16 years 1 month 8 days continuously from 19 December 1949 to 26 January

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1966. He was also Prime Minister for 2 years 4 months 4 days from 26 April 1939 to 29 August 1941.

Shortest serving Prime Minister Frank Forde (ALP, Capricornia, Qld) was Prime Minister for 8 days from 6 July 1945 to 13 July 1945 having been commissioned by the Governor-General upon the death of John Curtin. He then lost the leadership ballot to Ben Chifley.

Oldest serving Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies (LP, Kooyong, Vic) was 71 years 1 month when he resigned on 17 December 1966, having been in Parliament since 15 September 1934.

First Prime Minister to die in office Joseph Lyons (UAP, Wilmot, Tas), Prime Minister from 6 January 1932, died on 7 April 1939.

First woman member of the Ministry/Cabinet The first woman Cabinet member was Dame Enid Lyons (LP, Darwin, Tas), Vice-President of the Executive Council from 19 December 1949 to 7 March 1951. In 1956, Prime Minister Robert Menzies instituted a two-tier ministry, with the Cabinet comprising the senior ministers, and the non-Cabinet ministers attending meetings only in cases directly involving their portfolios. The first woman minister responsible for a government department was Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin (LP, Qld), Minister for Housing from 26 January 1966 to 22 March 1971. The first woman to administer a government department and be a member of the Cabinet was Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle (LP, Vic), who was appointed to Cabinet on 8 July 1976 during her term as Minister for Social Security from 22 December 1975 to 3 November 1980.

First Minister to resign because of a disagreement with Cabinet Charles Kingston (Protectionist, Adelaide, SA) resigned from the Barton Ministry as Minister for Trade and Customs on 24 July 1903 over a disagreement in Cabinet about whether the proposed Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1903 should cover seamen on all ships engaged in Australian coastal trade.

Government with the largest majority The Fraser Liberal Party/National Country Party Coalition Government had a majority of 55 after the 1975

election having won 91 seats to the ALP's 36.

Government with the smallest majority The Cook Liberal Party Government had a one seat majority (38-37) after the 1913 election. The Menzies UAP/Country Party Coalition retained Government after the 1940 election with 37 seats to 36 (ALP-32 and Non-Communist Labor-4) with one Independent. The Menzies Liberal Party/Country Party Coalition retained Government after the 1961 election, because although it had won the same number of seats (62) as the ALP, the ALP numbers included two Territory members (ACT and NT) who did not have full voting rights and therefore did not affect the outcome of divisions. They could only vote on bills affecting the territories.

First Member suspended from the House of Representatives Sir James Catts (ALP, Cook, NSW) was suspended on 18 August 1910 for referring to a statement by Elliott Johnson (LP, Lang, NSW) as 'a dirty, skunky thing to say' and for going over to the other side of the House and saying 'you dirty skunks'.

First Senator suspended from the Senate Senator Arthur Rae (ALP, NSW) was suspended on 1 November 1912 for describing a statement attributed to him by Senator Edward Millen (Anti-Socialist, NSW) as 'a deliberate falsehood' and then failing to withdraw it. He was suspended for the remainder of the day's sitting.

Member suspended from the House of Representatives most often Eddie Ward (ALP, East Sydney, NSW) was suspended 15 times. Wilson Tuckey (LP, O'Connor, WA) has been suspended 12 times including twice for 7 days. He has also been asked to withdraw from the Chamber 6 times under Standing Order 304A ('sin bin') which came into force on 21 February 1994. This standing order allows the Speaker to order the withdrawal of members from the Chamber for one hour for disorderly conduct without a question having to be put to the House. Wilson Tuckey was also the first person to be asked to withdraw from the Chamber under this standing order on 24 February 1994, 3 days after it came into effect.

Senator suspended from the Senate most often Senator James Keeffe (ALP, Qld) was suspended 6 times during his term from 1 July 1965 to 4 February 1983.

Speaker who has suspended the most Members Sir John McLeay (LP, Boothby, SA), Speaker from 29 August 1956 to 31 October 1966, suspended members 23 times.

President who has suspended the most Senators Sir Alister McMullin (LP, NSW), President from 8 September 1953 to 30 June 1971, and Sir Condor Laucke (LP, SA), President from 17 February 1976 to 30 June 1981, both suspended senators on 6 occasions.

First private Members' bill passed into law The Life Assurance Companies Bill 1904 was initiated by Sir Littleton Groom (Protectionist, Darling Downs, Qld) and passed into law in 1905 as Act No. 12 of 1905.

First Private Senators’ bill passed into law The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1908 was initiated by Senator Edward Needham (ALP, WA) and passed into law as Act No. 28 of 1909.

First broadcast of the proceedings of Parliament Radio broadcasts began on 10 July 1946. Senate proceedings have been regularly televised from August 1990 and House proceedings from February 1991.

Rob Lundie Martin Lumb Politics and Public Administration Group Information and Research Services 9 February 1999 Phone: (02) 62772661 Fax: (02) 62772532

Views expressed in this Research Note are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Information and Research Services and are not to be attributed to the Department of the Parliamentary Library. Research Notes provide concise analytical briefings on issues of interest to Senators and Members. As such they may not canvass all of the key issues. Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion.  Commonwealth of Australia