Lady Florence Bjelke-Petersen
Women in Federal Parliament

Lady Florence Bjelke-Petersen

Senator for Queensland

NCP; NPA, 1981–1993

After a number of years working alongside her husband, the Premier of Queensland, Lady Florence Bjelke-Petersen was chosen by the Parliament of Queensland in 1981 to represent Queensland in the Senate for the National Country Party of Australia. Four years later she was Deputy Leader of the National Party in the Senate (1985–90) and in 1993 the National Party Whip.

As a spokesperson for those living in rural and regional Australia, Senator Bjelke-Petersen repeatedly emphasised the need for road funding and the development of Australia’s resource potential. Social welfare and the need to safeguard the well-being of the family unit were other major areas of concern. Bjelke-Petersen campaigned for the need for income splitting for single-income families and spoke in opposition to legislation for affirmative action, asking ‘What about affirmative action programs by the Government to raise the status of women in the home?’ An advocate of taxation reform, she favoured a flat tax rate and questioned the effectiveness of the proposed Australian identity card in reducing tax and welfare fraud.

After 12 years in the Senate she retired in 1993.

Lady Florence Bjelke-Petersen in her electorate office in Queensland.

Image courtesy of Ian Waldie.