Senator for Western Australia
Susan Knowles was elected to the Senate for Western Australia in 1984. As a Liberal senator she was appointed Deputy Opposition Whip in the Senate in 1987. For the next six years she held this position with Senator Margaret Reid as Opposition Whip. This was the first time two women had ever held these positions concurrently.
An opponent of sex discrimination legislation, Senator Knowles expressed her strong belief in the rights of the family, employers and traditional values. During the debate on the Affirmative Action (Equal Opportunity for Women) Bill 1986, she articulated her concern that equal opportunity could degenerate into reverse discrimination. As a former small business owner she took a strong interest in taxation reform and was an active contributor to Senate debates on the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST), promoting what she perceived as the benefits of the GST for small business.
For eight years Knowles was chair of the Senate’s Community Affairs Legislation Committee and played a key role in its inquiries into tobacco advertising prohibition and stem cell research. After almost 21 years in the Senate she retired in 2005.