The Hon. Dr Carmen Lawrence
Women in Federal Parliament

The Hon. Dr Carmen Lawrence

Member for Fremantle (WA)

ALP, 1994–2007

The Hon. Dr Carmen Lawrence became the first female premier of an Australian state in 1990 after serving in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly from 1986. She resigned from the state legislature after being elected to the House of Representatives as the Australian Labor Party member for Fremantle (1994–2007). She entered the House as Minister for Human Services and Health and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women, being the first woman to serve as a minister in both state and federal governments.

Lawrence’s first speech in federal parliament was an impassioned call for increased women’s political participation and preselection opportunities, exclaiming ‘What is required of a member of parliament that a woman–any woman–cannot do? The answer? Nothing’.

In later speeches Lawrence championed Medicare against what she saw as attempts to undermine it. She also delivered an academic exposé on the form of marriage over the centuries in consideration of the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2004, calling for a contemporary debate on the issue of same-sex marriage. She argued for the humane treatment of asylum seekers, particularly those residing in detention.

Lawrence holds a PhD in Psychology.

The Hon. Dr Carmen Lawrence with the Hon. Robert McMullan and the Hon. Kim Beazley.

Image courtesy of Auspic.