Senator for Tasmania
In 1980 Jean Hearn became the first female ALP senator from Tasmania when she was selected by the Tasmanian Parliament to fill a vacancy in the Senate. She was elected for two more terms in 1980 and 1983, serving until her retirement in 1985.
An active trade union member, Senator Hearn took an interest in social reform issues and participated in a number of Senate committees including the Standing Committees on Education and the Arts and the Select Committee on Animal Welfare.
In Senate debates, Hearn was a political idealist and pacifist. Arguing for putting the needs of people before the needs of the economy, she maintained that it was the role of parliament to work for the well-being of people and not the interests of multinationals, profit and privilege. She spoke often on the need for Australia’s youth to feel encouraged about the future.
Hearn expressed concern for people’s standard of living, especially those living below the poverty line. She spoke passionately about her support for the need for an equal distribution of wealth and the appropriate use of Australia’s resources and taxes in order to meet the needs of essential community services.