Senator for Tasmania
Kay Denman entered Parliament ‘committed to the implementation of social justice and a more equitable society’. Chosen in 1993 by the Parliament of Tasmania to represent Tasmania for the Australian Labor Party in the Senate, during her more than 12 years of service she served as Deputy Government Whip (1995–96), Deputy Opposition Whip (1997–2001) and as the longstanding chair of the Standing Committee of Senators’ Interests.
Drawing on her previous experience as a teacher, Senator Denman was a great supporter of increased funding for public schools and campaigned strongly for adequate funding for universities and support for teachers. Health care was another area of interest, particularly dental care which she said should be ‘a right, not a privilege’. She also spoke out on aged care and childcare issues with a particular focus on improving access and equity, especially in rural and regional areas. Concerns about access to services were also the basis for her opposition to the sale of Telstra.
On leaving the Senate in 2005 she referred to the challenge of reconciling her views and those of her constituents in conscience votes in which she voted in favour of stem cell research and euthanasia.