Member for Fowler (NSW)
Julia Irwin joined the Australian Labor Party at the age of 15 and later worked as an electorate officer. In 1998 she entered federal parliament as the member for the safe seat of Fowler (NSW) in the western suburbs of Sydney. She served as chair of the first House of Representatives Petitions Committee (2008–10).
In her years in Parliament Irwin never shirked from canvassing the issues that affected her ethnically and socially diverse electorate, no matter how controversial. Irwin was a strong proponent of drug law reform including support for drug rehabilitation with safe injecting facilities and listing drug treatments on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme. She also commented frequently on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, moving a private member’s motion on this topic.
In the House Irwin stated that she aimed to stimulate a new political conversation among parliamentarians about the role of government in directing economic and social policy. In her valedictory speech she expressed disappointment that there had been little achieved in this area. She left Parliament having made her mark in other areas and will be remembered for being unafraid to raise issues that were not seen to be politically ‘safe’.