Parliamentary quotes

Parliamentary debates

Some interesting fragments


Richard O'Connor (NSW, Protectionist Party)

" I see no reason in the world why we should continue to impose laws which have to be obeyed by the women of the community without giving them some voice in the election of the members who make those laws. Their capacity for understanding political questions, for thinking over them, and for exercising their influence in regard to public affairs, is certainly of that order and of that level which entitles them to take that part in public affairs which the franchise proposes to give them. My view is that the result will be infinitely to strengthen the means by which we shall get a true record of the real opinions of Australia upon all the different questions that will come up for settlement. I have no fear but that the influence which the vote of women throughout Australia will exercise will be, as it has been in other parts of Australia where it has been tried, uniformly for the good of the Commonwealth and in the interests of the best form of legislation."
Senate, 9 April 1902, pp11451-2


Sir Josiah Symon (SA, Free Trade)

"So far as I am aware [in South Australia] there has been no increase, owing to women's suffrage, in any of that incompatibility of temper which sometimes prevails. I am not aware that it has ever been adduced, either as a ground of petition, or as a ground of defence in the Divorce Court, that difficulties have arisen and that desertion has been brought about or cruelty practised owing to the introduction of the suffrage."
Senate, 9 April 1902, p.11458

"There are many who will not go to the poll, whatever inducements and persuasions are exercised. I suppose that there is in the emotional character of women that which men do not feel; an apprehension which may pass off that there is something mysterious, something uncanny, about being on the rolls."
Senate, 9 April 1902, p.11463

"I feel that the introduction of political duties I put it that way into the ambit of their service in life is overloading them, and is certainly not promoting woman's destiny at its best."
Senate, 9 April 1902, p.11463


Edward Pulsford (NSW, Free Trade)

" both my heart and brain act together in antagonism to the principle of women's suffrage. I am not prepared to describe women's suffrage as a blessing. I would rather describe it as an attempt to throw a portion of the white man's burden upon the white woman. I do not think that the interests of the States or of the people will be promoted in any shape or form by the change which is suggested."
Senate, 9 April 1902, p. 11464

"I believe that if we now decide to go in for womanhood suffrage it will tend to the vulgarization of women, and that none of us desires."
Senate, 9 April 1902, p. 11466


Thomas Glassey (Qld, Protectionist Party)

"Only yesterday I heard a woman say that she did not think it would be safe to confer this right on women, because very dire things were likely to follow. It is also alleged that women would be influenced by the clergy, by good-looking candidates, and by young men."
Senate, 9 April 1902, p.11474

"Another reason which is sometimes advanced against women's suffrage is that women do not understand political questions. That argument presupposes that all men understand political questions The old argument has been used that the extension of the suffrage to women would take away their beauty and their charm, and cause them to neglect their domestic affairs it has been said that it would be a shame to invite women to go to the polling booth, because sometimes there is a good deal of rowdyism there."
Senate, 9 April 1902, p.11475


Albert Gould (NSW, Free Trade)

"Then we come to the question of what has been the effect of extending the franchise to women. Has it purified Parliament in any degree? Has it improved the moral tone of Parliament, and enabled the elections to be conducted better than they were before?"
Senate, 9 April 1902, p.11477


Sir John Downer (SA, Protectionist Party)

"I believe it will and must make this difference, however, that it will give a vote to that down-trodden class who, although they have been enabled, as the result of their industry or from other causes, to acquire property, have never yet had an opportunity of securing the representation to which, in respect of that property, they are legitimately entitled. It is for that reason, without speaking further, that I shall support this bill."
Senate, 9 April 1902, p.11481


John Barrett (Vic, Australian Labor Party)

"And although perhaps some of the States are not prepared to extend the franchise to all adults, yet it will be to the credit of the Federal Parliament that it achieved the great reform."
Senate, 9 April 1902, p.11481


Staniforth Smith (WA, Free Trade)

" this will be the first Parliament to have universal adult suffrage for both Houses of the Legislature. This Bill will not confer a favour upon the women of Australia, nor a boon for which they should be grateful. It will do a simple act of justice that has been withheld from women for many years."
Senate, 9 April 1902, p.11484


James Stewart (Qld, Australian Labor Party)

"The very men who say that giving a woman a vote would degrade her, have not the slightest compunction about making her a drudge. They do not regard it as degrading for a woman to black a man's boots. Oh, no! It is not degrading for her to scrub a floor or to be turned into a stuffy kitchen to cook for a man, or to be put into a factory where she will have to work nine or ten hours a day for a wretched pittance. None of these things will degrade a woman, but to give her a voice in the government of the country will degrade her! That is what the opponents of female suffrage tell us."
Senate, 9 April 1902, p.11499


Simon Fraser (Vic, Protectionist Party)

"How will the passage of this Bill bring any more comfort to the home? I say that the passage of 50 such Bills would not bring one atom of benefit to the home in this or in any other country. On the other hand, in my opinion, it may create discord. I do not say that it will have that effect, to any great extent, because in 99 cases out of every 100 the wife will vote with the husband, the daughter with the father, the sister with the brother, and the effect will be only to multiply the family vote. In my home I shall have ten votes under this system instead of one."
Senate, 10 April 1902, p. 11558


Gregor McGregor (SA, Australian Labor Party)

"Adult suffrage has been a plank in the platform of the party with which I am connected from the inception of that body, and every member of it has been gratified, not only by the number of conversions they have made, but by the number of partial conversions, a number having been almost compelled, if not induced, to go half way in the acceptance of the principle."
Senate, 10 April 1902, p. 11565


House of Representatives

Sir William Lyne, (Hume, Protectionist Party) Minister for Home Affairs

" some ten or twelve years ago I formed the conclusion that not only was it just to accord women the vote, but that it was in the best interests of the entire community."
House of Representatives, 23 April 1902, p.11930

"Moreover, I am firmly of the opinion that the extension of the franchise to women will cause men to take more interest in political matters, and to vote in larger numbers than they have done heretofore. The fact that wives and daughters in the home will be able to discuss political subjects which affect everyday life, will bring to the mind of the male portion of the community the necessity for recording their votes at election time."
House of Representatives, 23 April 1902, pp. 11930 -31


Sir Edward Braddon (Tasmania, Free Trade)

"Of all the political phenomena that arise from time to time to puzzle men, none is so bewildering, to me at any rate, as that which is presented by the craze I can hardly call it anything else for female suffrage which exhibits itself in these southern seas."
House of Representatives, 23 April 1902, p.11935

"Woman has her range of duties, and her special functions, as man has his; and I would like to see each find his own place in his own level."
House of Representatives, 23 April 1902, p. 11937

" the objection is that women are apt to decide on instinct rather than reason."
House of Representatives, 23 April 1902, p. 11937


Alexander Poynton (South Australia, Free Trade)

" I hold that womanhood suffrage in South Australia has improved the whole tone of politics there."
House of Representatives, 23 April 1902, p. 11939


William Knox (Kooyong, Free Trade)

"We are, in my opinion, running counter to the intentions and to the design of the Great Creator, and we are reversing those conditions of life to which woman was ordained."
House of Representatives, 23 April 1902, p. 11941

"The main ambition of a woman's life should be to become the wife of an honorable and honest man."
House of Representatives, 23 April 2002, p.11941

"I have a mother, and I have a wife and a sister and daughters, and I wish to continue in the position of their supporter and their protector, and not to place them under the necessity of protecting their own political position. I do not wish them to have extended to them the right not only to vote, but to sit in this Chamber. It is man's duty to be here, and it is woman's duty to attend to the family."
House of Representatives, 23 April 1902, p.11941


Thomas Macdonald-Paterson (Brisbane, Free Trade)

"I am not a convert to women's suffrage; I am a disciple, having for years been in favour of the fair sex exercising a voice in the affairs of the country, though if it may be that I would rather revert to the old Roman majority of 28 years of age for both men and women, granting only the municipal vote to those over 21 years of age."
House of Representatives, 23 April 1902, p.11944


Thomas Skene (Grampians, Free Trade)

"I, and many others, believe that woman has higher and more sacred functions to fulfil than those presented in political life."
House of Representatives, 23 April 1902, p.11945


Sir William McMillan (Wentworth, Free Trade)

"No doubt when we come to deal with the question on purely logical grounds, it is very hard to say that a women should not have a vote. But, on the other hand, there is even deeper philosophy than mere logic. There are instincts, and those instincts often are founded upon the nature of things. Whether we decide that a woman shall have a vote or not, there is no use our blinding our eyes to the fact that a woman, physiologically and otherwise, is a very different individual from a man."
House of Representatives, 23 April 1902, p.11947


George Edwards (South Sydney, Free Trade)

"I object to the present proposal, first, on the ground that there is nothing in what we may designate as political principles to justify this departure, and, secondly, on the ground that as a matter of common expediency there is nothing to be gained."
House of Representatives, 23 April 1902, p.11951