Sue West
Women in Federal Parliament

Sue West

Senator for New South Wales

ALP, 1987–1987

Senator for New South Wales

ALP, 1990–2002

Sue West (right) with President of the Senate Margaret Reid.

Image courtesy of the Canberra Times.

A registered nurse and midwife, Sue West had her first taste of federal politics when she stood unsuccessfully as an Australian Labor Party candidate for the seat of Hume in 1980. However, after a number of years as an electorate officer she was selected by the Parliament of New South Wales in 1987 as the first woman to represent that state in the Senate.

Although unsuccessful in the 1987 election she was elected to the Senate in 1990 and again in 1996. Acutely aware of the problems facing rural and regional Australia and with a dedicated interest in health issues, Senator West spoke frequently and passionately about the national shortage of health professionals, the provision of health services in rural and remote areas, regional development and job creation as well as her endless support for Medibank and Medicare.

Her more than 12 years in the Senate included time as Deputy President of the Senate and Chair of Committees (1997–2002), and periods as chair of the House Committee, Procedure Committee and the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs. She retired from the Senate in 2002.