The Hon. Kate Ellis
Member for Adelaide (SA)
The youngest woman elected to the House of Representatives, Kate Ellis entered Parliament at 26 believing ‘politics and the parliamentary process have the power to change people’s lives for the better’ and on retirement said she remained an idealist.
Ellis held a number of ministerial portfolios in the Rudd and Gillard governments including early childhood education, childcare, sport, employment participation and status of women. The daughter of a school teacher, she championed education and nominated reforms to early childhood education, particularly the national quality framework, as among her achievements as a minister.
Just as important to Ellis were lesser known successes such as boosting support for the most vulnerable Indigenous children, the launch of the first National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, and increased funding for women’s sport. Ellis regarded constituent work as the ‘most significant and most rewarding part’ of her job, saying it provided ‘the chance daily to quite literally change people’s lives’.
Ellis, who grew up in Mannum on the Murray River, repeatedly called for better management of the river. In her final speech, and in the wake of a mass die-off of fish, she urged Parliament to ‘let science dictate the path to a permanent and healthy river system’.