The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate

Biographies of Australian senators and clerks of the Senate who completed their service between 1901 to 2002.

These short articles place particular emphasis on the events of a Senator's parliamentary experience, contributions to debates, committee work, parliamentary positions as well as ministerial appointments.

Search by party affiliation, State/Territory represented, years of service or by office held.


A collage of photos of Australian Senators throughout the Senate's history

Hard copy editions for purchase

Volume 1: 1901-1929

The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate Volume 1

Australia's Senators during the first thirty years of the Federal Parliament. It provides also a window on the colonial and post-colonial societies in which these 99 Senators and their three Clerks lived and worked. It explains how miners, merchants, constitutionalists, soldiers, printers, trade unionists, adventurers and pastoralists became Senators, and how, in an essentially egalitarian society, they melded together as Australia's first federal parliamentarians. It tells of their work as legislators during a period when Australia was making a unique contribution to democracy itself, and reveals the excitement felt by conservatives and non-conservatives alike as they shaped the beginnings of an Australian nation.

Purchase: Melbourne University Press

Volume 2: 1929-1962

The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate Volume 2

The second volume contains individual articles on 104 senators and three clerks. The vision of Australia as a fair and equitable society, cherished so confidently at the time of Federation, now has to be put into practice in the face of the Depression and the Second World War. We see senators grappling with an increasingly mechanised society, major industrial, economic and social problems and the growing complexities of public policy. Political parties, strongly influenced by economic conditions and rural politics, divide and re-group, and as the six states recognise more and more the extent of Commonwealth power, the Senate asserts its constitutional equality with the House of Representatives.

Purchase: Melbourne University Press

Volume 3: 1962-1983

The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate Volume 3

The third volume contains articles on the 104 senators and four clerks of the Senate whose parliamentary service ended during the period of rapid social and political change: 1962–1983. It highlights the achievements of some of the Senate's trailblazers: the first Aboriginal senator Neville Bonner, first Jewish senator Sam Cohen, the first ACT senator John Knight and a cohort of pioneering women in the Senate who followed the election of DorothyTangney in 1943.

Purchase: Order form PDF (159KB)

Volume 4: 1983-2002

Biographical Dictionary volume 4

The fourth volume contains articles on the 108 senators and one Clerk of the Senate whose parliamentary service ended between 1983 and 2002, a period of rapid economic and social change. The environmental movement, the push for gender equality, currency and banking deregulation, the lowering of tariffs, the recognition of native title and monumental technological transformations are all seen through the prism of these senators’ stories. Yet, during this time of great change, the political sphere remained relatively stable. Even though no party in government commanded a majority of the Senate, parties in government were often able to work effectively with the Senate to achieve major policy objectives.

Purchase: Order form PDF (159KB)