Senator for South Australia
Anne McEwen was the Secretary of the South Australian branch of the Australian Services Union when she was elected as a senator at the 2004 federal election. She entered the Senate in 2005 for the first of two terms as an Australian Labor Party senator for South Australia.
Her commitment to the union movement began when working at the University of Adelaide, after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1987. In her first speech to the Senate she described joining the union movement as becoming part of a century-long ‘pursuit of justice, freedom and equity’. She was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2003 for her services to trade unionism.
During her time in the Senate McEwen focused on issues of great importance to South Australia, such as the Murray-Darling Basin, as well as issues of broader concern such as Indigenous affairs, climate change and education. She also regularly reflected on the contributions of Australia’s defence forces and on the plight of veterans. McEwen held a particular interest in Papua New Guinea, where her father had fought in World War II, and was a prominent member of the Australia-Papua New Guinea Parliamentary Friendship Group.
McEwen's time as Deputy Government Whip (2008–2010), Chief Government Whip (2010–2013) and Chief Opposition Whip (2013–2016) exemplified her extraordinary level of commitment to the Senate and to her party. However, after nearly 12 years of service, McEwen was defeated at the 2016 federal election.