Dame Nancy Buttfield
Women in Federal Parliament

Dame Nancy Buttfield

Senator for South Australia

LIB, 1955–1965

Senator for South Australia

LIB, 1968–1974

In 1955 Dame Nancy Buttfield was selected by the Parliament of South Australia to represent that state for the Liberal Party in the Senate. She was the first woman nominated to fill a casual vacancy in the Senate and the first woman to represent South Australia in the federal parliament. Although she lost her Senate seat at the 1964 election she regained it in 1968, before retiring in 1974.

Upon entering Parliament Senator Buttfield spoke of the need for increased migration and the national benefits of tourism. A dedicated anti-communist, she was also passionate about maintaining world peace and security. Her interest in foreign affairs led her to visit countries such as the USSR and China and she was an active member of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.

An advocate of women’s rights, she lobbied for equal pay and for the abolition of the marriage bar for women in the public service. As chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, she led an inquiry into the Repatriation Act and supported rehabilitation services for the disadvantaged.

Buttfield was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1972.

Dame Nancy Buttfield and the Hon. Sir Hubert Opperman, the Minister for Immigration and a champion cyclist, in 1964.

Image courtesy of Newspix/News Limited.