The Hon. Dame Margaret Guilfoyle
Women in Federal Parliament

The Hon. Dame Margaret Guilfoyle

Senator for Victoria

LIB, 1971–1987

The Hon. Dame Margaret Guilfoyle entered the Senate to represent Victoria for the Liberal Party in 1971. In a parliamentary career which spanned sixteen years, she served in four ministerial portfolios in addition to several years in the shadow ministry. After a short time as Minister for Education (1975) she was appointed as Minister for Social Security (1975–80). This appointment made her the first woman in Cabinet with responsibility for a government department. In 1980 she was appointed as Minister for Finance, the first woman to hold an economic portfolio. An accountant before joining the Parliament, she served for over seven years on the Joint Committee of Public Accounts.

Senator Guilfoyle had an active interest in a range of areas including Indigenous affairs, immigration and healthcare. When the Maternity Leave Bill was debated in 1973, she argued for the extension of maternity leave to all women, not just Commonwealth employees. As Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Child Care Matters (1975–76) she also addressed issues facing working mothers.

She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1980 and Companion of the Order of Australia in 2005.

The Hon. Dame Margaret Guilfoyle pictured in 1979.

Image courtesy of Newspix/News Limited.