Parliament House is currently


WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this gallery may contain the names and images of deceased persons.

The Historic Memorials Collection is Australia’s longest-running commissioning collection. Founded by former Prime Minister Andrew Fisher in 1911, the collection is guided by the Historic Memorials Committee, a bipartisan committee chaired by the Prime Minister of the day and comprised of a number of parliamentary officeholders.  The Committee commissions official portraits of the Head of State, Governors-General, Prime Ministers, and Presidents of the Senate and Speakers of the House of Representatives. 

From time to time, the Committee may also elect to commission portraits of other significant parliamentarians who represent a milestone in the history of the Parliament, e.g. Dame Enid Lyons, the first female parliamentarian or Senator Neville Bonner as the first Indigenous parliamentarian.  On rare occasions, the Committee may also commission paintings of significant events in the history of the Australian Parliament, e.g. the opening of Parliament House in 1988.

Early Prime Ministerial portraits were often large in scale and sombre in tone; however, over time they have tended to become less formal and capture more of the personality of the sitter.  Often they include artefacts of personal significance to the portrait subject. 

Not all portraits are generated through a commissioning process and the Committee is able to purchase a portrait if one already exists.  For example, the portrait of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam painted by his friend Clifton Pugh won the Archibald Prize in 1973 and was subsequently purchased by the Committee at the former Prime Minister’s request.

All 25 completed portraits of Australian Prime Ministers are displayed in a chronological order in Members’ Hall, with large scale portraits on display on the mezzanine level of the Main Committee Room Foyer.

Download the brochure: Portraits of Australian Prime Ministers (2.42MB pdf)

William Dargie (1912–2003) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 1954

William Dargie (1912–2003)
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 1954
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

This portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Sir William Dargie is often referred to as the ‘wattle painting’ or the ‘wattle Queen’.  The work was commissioned by industrialist James P. Beveridge for the Parliament’s Historic Memorials Collection. 

In this painting the Queen wears a distinctive ball gown by Norman Hartnell decorated with a wattle motif, a diamond tiara given to her by her grandmother Queen Mary and a diamond necklace which was a wedding present from the Nizam of Hyderabad.  This is the original version of the painting and was painted ‘from life’ over the course of five sittings at Buckingham Palace during November 1954 after the Queen’s first visit to Australia. 

Once the painting was finished Dargie became concerned it may be damaged or lost in transit during the voyage to Australia and as insurance he painted a second copy of the painting.  This version is now in the collection of the National Museum of Australia. Dargie also painted a third version for the Queen’s personal collection as she was said to be ‘delighted’ with the result.

The original portrait was officially presented to the Commonwealth by Mrs Beveridge at Parliament House on 21 April 1955, shortly after James Beveridge's death.

Norman Carter (1875–1963) The Rt Hon. Sir Edmund Barton GCMG KC, 1913

Norman Carter (1875–1963)
The Rt Hon. Sir Edmund Barton GCMG KC, 1913
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon. Sir Edmund (Toby) Barton GCMG KC

Term of Office: 1 January 1901 to 24 September 1903

Born: 1849 Died: 1920

Member for Hunter 1901 to 1903, New South Wales

Political Party: Protectionist Party

Edmund Barton was sworn in as leader of the new Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901. A leader of the Federation movement, he helped draft Australia’s Constitution and later became a founding judge of the High Court of Australia.

Frederick McCubbin (1855–1917) The Hon. Alfred Deakin, 1914

Frederick McCubbin (1855–1917)
The Hon. Alfred Deakin, 1914
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Hon. Sir Alfred Deakin

Terms of Office: 24 September 1903 to 27 April 1904; 5 July 1905 to 13 November 1908;

2 June 1909 to 29 April 1910

Born: 1856 Died: 1919

Member for Ballarat 1901 to 1913, Victoria

Political Party: Protectionist Party

Alfred Deakin held the office of Prime Minister three times in the first decade of Federation. Deakin did much to build Australia’s constitutional foundations, and introduced legislation for the establishment of a site for a new national capital.

John Longstaff (1862–1941) The Hon. John Christian Watson, 1915

John Longstaff (1862–1941)
The Hon. John Christian Watson, 1915
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Hon. John Christian (Chris) Watson

Born: 1867 Died: 1941

Term of Office: 27 April 1904 to 17 August 1904

Member for Bland 1901 to 1906 & Member for South Sydney 1906 to 1910, New South Wales

Political Party: Australian Labor Party

Chris Watson is considered the world’s first national Labor government leader. Aged 37, he remains Australia’s youngest Prime Minister. His term ended after only four months.

ohn Longstaff (1862–1941) Sir George Houstoun Reid GCB GCMG KC, 1916

John Longstaff (1862–1941)
Sir George Houstoun Reid GCB GCMG KC, 1916
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon. Sir George Houstoun Reid  GCB GCMG

Born: 1845 Died: 1918

Term of Office: 18 August 1904 to 5 July 1905

Member for East Sydney 1901 to 1909, New South Wales

Political Party: Free Trade Party

Before entering Parliament in 1901, Reid was Premier of New South Wales from 1894 to 1899. As leader of the Free Trade Party, he was the first federal Opposition leader, holding this role for six of the first seven years of Parliament.  

E. Phillips Fox (1865–1915) The Rt Hon. Andrew Fisher, 1913

E. Phillips Fox (1865–1915)
The Rt Hon. Andrew Fisher, 1913
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon. Andrew Fisher

Born: 1862 Died: 1928

Terms of Office: 13 November 1908 to 29 April 1909; 29 April 1910 to 24 June 1913;17 September 1914 to 27 October 1915 

Member for Wide Bay 1901 to 1915, Queensland

Political Party: Australian Labor Party

Along with Deakin, Fisher is the only Australian Prime Minister to have held office on three separate occasions.  Fisher was responsible for the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank, the founding of Canberra and the creation of the Royal Australian Navy.

Norman Carter (1875–1963) The Rt Hon. Sir Joseph Cook GCMG, 1921

Norman Carter (1875–1963)
The Rt Hon. Sir Joseph Cook GCMG, 1921
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Cook GCMG

Born: 1860 Died: 1947

Term of Office: 24 June 1913 to 17 September 1914

Member for Parramatta 1901 to 1921, New South Wales

Political Party: Commonwealth Liberal Party

Cook was Australia’s sixth Prime Minister.  After provoking a double dissolution election, he was defeated by Andrew Fisher.

George Lambert (1873–1930) The Rt Hon. William Morris Hughes CH KC, 1927

George Lambert (1873–1930)
The Rt Hon. William Morris Hughes CH KC, 1927
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon William Morris (Billy) Hughes CH KC

Born: 1862 Died: 1952

Term of Office: 27 October 1915 to 9 February 1923

Member for West Sydney 1901 to 1917, New South Wales:  Bendigo 1917 to 1922 Victoria; North Sydney 1922 to 1949 and Bradfield 1949 to1952, New South Wales

Hughes holds the record for continuous service as a member for the House of Representatives - 51 years and 7 months from 1901 to 1952.  As Prime Minister during the hardest years of World War I, he earned the nickname ‘the Little Digger’.

William McInnes (1889–1939) The Rt Hon. Stanley Melbourne Bruce CH MC, 1926

William McInnes (1889–1939)
The Rt Hon. Stanley Melbourne Bruce CH MC, 1926
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra, ACT.

 

The Rt. Hon. Stanley Melbourne Viscount Bruce CH MC

Born: 1883 Died: 1967

Term of Office: 9 February 1923 to 22 October 1929

Member for Flinders: 1918 to1929, 1932 to 1933, Victoria

Political Party: Nationalist Party

Under his office, the seat of government was transferred from Melbourne to the newly built capital Canberra.  Bruce was the first Prime Minister to occupy the Prime Minister’s official residence in Canberra, The Lodge, and to move into the Provisional Parliament House (Old Parliament House).  

William McInnes (1889–1939) The Rt Hon. James Henry Scullin, 1938

William McInnes (1889–1939)
The Rt Hon. James Henry Scullin, 1938
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon. James Henry Scullin

Born: 1876 Died: 1953

Term of Office: 22 October 1929 to 6 January 1932

Member for Corangamite 1910 to1913, Yarra 1922 to 1949, Victoria

Political Party: Australian Labor Party

In the first week of Scullin’s prime ministership the Great Wall Street Crash of 1929 occurred and his term was spent trying to manage the failing Australian economy. Scullin was responsible for the appointment of Sir Isaac Isaacs as the first Australian-born Governor-General.

William McInnes (1889–1939) The Rt Hon. Joseph Aloysius Lyons CH, 1936

William McInnes (1889–1939)
The Rt Hon. Joseph Aloysius Lyons CH, 1936
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon. Joseph Aloysius Lyons CH

Born: 1879 Died: 1939

Term of Office: 6 January 1932 to 7 April 1939

Member for Wilmot 1929 to 1939, Tasmania

Political Party: United Australia Party

Joseph Lyons is the only Tasmanian to become Prime Minister and was elected to the Australian Parliament in 1929, having served as Premier of Tasmania. He established the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), and regulated the growing air travel industry. He was the first Prime Minister to die in office. 

Fred Leist (1878–1946) The Rt Hon. Sir Earle C. G. Page GCMG CH, 1940-1941

Fred Leist (1878–1946)
The Rt Hon. Sir Earle C. G. Page GCMG CH, 1940-1941
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon. Sir Earle Christmas Grafton Page GCMG CH

Born: 1880 Died: 1961

Term of Office: 7 to 26 April 1939

Member for Cowper 1920 to 1961, New South Wales

Political Party: Country Party

Earle Page served as Prime Minister for only for 20 days in April 1939, after Joseph Lyons' death. However, he was one of the longest serving parliamentarians, serving for 42 years.  Page was a co-founder and leader of the Country Party.

Ivor Hele (1912–1993) The Rt Hon. Sir Robert Gordon Menzies KT AK CH QC, 1955

Ivor Hele (1912–1993)
The Rt Hon. Sir Robert Gordon Menzies KT AK CH QC, 1955
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Gordon Menzies KT CH QC

Born: 1894 Died: 1978

Member for Kooyong 1934 to 1966, Victoria

Terms of office: 1939 to 1941; 1949 to 1966

Political Party: Liberal Party

Robert Menzies is Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister.  His first term from 1939 to 1941 was as leader of the United Australia Party–Country Party coalition. In 1941 he resigned, having lost the support of his Cabinet.  As leader of the Liberal Party, Menzies won the 1949 election overseeing a long period of growth in immigration, social services, hospitals, schools and universities.  He retired from Parliament in 1966.

William Dargie (1912–2003) The Rt Hon. Sir Arthur William Fadden GCMG, 1947

William Dargie (1912–2003)
The Rt Hon. Sir Arthur William Fadden GCMG, 1947
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur William Fadden GCMG

Born: 1894 Died: 1973

Term of Office: 29 August to 9 October 1941

Member for Darling Downs 1937 to 1949, McPherson 1950 to 1958, Queensland

Political Party: Country Party

Arthur Fadden replaced Menzies after his resignation in 1941. He served only 40 days as Prime Minister.  During his 22-year parliamentary career Fadden also served as Treasurer, overseeing 11 Budgets.

Anthony Dattilo Rubbo (1870–1955) The Rt Hon. John J. A. Curtin, 1947

Anthony Dattilo Rubbo (1870–1955)
The Rt Hon. John J. A. Curtin, 1947
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon. John Joseph Ambrose Curtin

Born: 1885 Died: 1945

Term of Office: 7 October 1941 to 5 July 1945

Member for Fremantle 1928 to 1931 and 1934 to 1945, Western Australia

Political Party: Australian Labor Party

John Curtin is best remembered for his leadership of the nation during much of World War II.  He died in office on 5 July 1945, only six weeks before the end of the war.

Joshua Smith (1905–1995) The Rt Hon. Francis Michael Forde, 1947

Joshua Smith (1905–1995)
The Rt Hon. Francis Michael Forde, 1947
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra, ACT.

 

The Rt. Hon. Francis (Frank) Michael Forde

Born: 1890 Died: 1983

Term of Office: 6 to 13 July 1945

Member for Capricornia 1923 to 1946, Queensland

Political Party: Australian Labor Party

Forde was Australia’s shortest serving Prime Minister with a term of just eight days following John Curtin’s death. The following week the Labor Party elected Ben Chifley as Prime Minister.  He also served as a deputy leader to James Scullin, John Curtin and Ben Chifley. 

Archibald Colquhoun (1894–1983) The Rt Hon. Joseph Benedict Chifley, 1953

Archibald Colquhoun (1894–1983)
The Rt Hon. Joseph Benedict Chifley, 1953
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon. Joseph Benedict Chifley

Born: 1885 Died: 1951

Term of Office: 13 July 1945 to 19 December 1949

Member for Macquarie 1929 to 1931 and 1940 to 1951, New South Wales

Political Party: Australian Labor Party

Ben Chifley became leader of the Labor Party after the death of John Curtin in 1945.  Chifley started Australia’s post-war reconstruction, with a large-scale immigration program, and creating the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme and the Australian National University.

William Edwin Pidgeon (1909–1981) The Rt Hon. Harold Edward Holt CH, 1970

William Edwin Pidgeon (1909–1981)
The Rt Hon. Harold Edward Holt CH, 1970
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon. Harold Edward Holt CH

Born: 1908 Died: 1967

Term of Office: 26 January 1966 to 19 December 1967

Member for Fawkner 1935 to 1949 Member for Higgins 1949 to 1967, Victoria

Political Party: Liberal Party

Holt became Prime Minister after the retirement of Robert Menzies in 1966. His government supported the 1967 referendum recognising Indigenous Australians, relaxed immigration laws and increased Australia’s troop commitment to the Vietnam War. On 17 December 1967, Holt disappeared while swimming in Victoria and was officially pronounced dead two days later.

William Dargie (1912–2003) The Rt Hon. Sir John McEwen GCMG CH, 1969

William Dargie (1912–2003)
The Rt Hon. Sir John McEwen GCMG CH, 1969
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon. Sir John McEwen GCMG CH

Born: 1900 Died: 1980

Term of Office: 19 December 1967 to 10 January 1968

Member for Echuca 1934 to 1937, Indi 1937 to 1949 and Murray 1949 to 1971, Victoria

Political Party: Country Party

John McEwen was caretaker Prime Minister after the disappearance of Harold Holt. After 23 days he was replaced when the Liberal Party elected John Gorton as their new leader. McEwen continued as Deputy Prime Minister until his retirement in 1971. 

June Mendoza (born 1927) The Rt Hon. Sir John G. Gorton AC CH, 1971

June Mendoza (born 1927)
The Rt Hon. Sir John G. Gorton AC CH, 1971
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon. Sir John Grey Gorton GCMG AC

Born: 1911 Died: 2002

Term of Office: 10 January 1968 to 10 March 1971

Member for Higgins 1968 to 1975, Victoria

Political Party: Liberal Party

Gorton became Prime Minister replacing Harold Holt as Liberal leader in 1968.

Before becoming Member for Higgins, he served as a Senator for Victoria for 18 years. He established the Australian Council for the Arts and the National Film and Television Training School. Gorton lost office following a no confidence vote in his leadership.

Ivor Hele (1912–1993) The Rt Hon. William McMahon GCMG CH, 1973

Ivor Hele (1912–1993)
The Rt Hon. William McMahon GCMG CH, 1973
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt. Hon. Sir William McMahon GCMG CH

Born: 1908 Died: 1988

Term of Office: 10 March 1971 to 5 December 1972

Member for Lowe 1950 to 1982, New South Wales

Political Party: Liberal Party

McMahon became Prime Minister after the resignation of John Gorton. He was the first Prime Minister to appoint a Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. He lost the 1972 election but remained in Parliament until his retirement in 1982.

Clifton Pugh (1924–1990) The Hon. Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC, 1972

Clifton Pugh (1924–1990)
The Hon. Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC, 1972
Oil on masonite
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection
© Artist’s Estate

 

The Hon. Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC

Born: 1916 Died: 2014

Term: 5 December 1972 to 11 November 1975

Member for Werriwa 1952 to 1978, New South Wales

Political Party: Australian Labor Party

Under Whitlam, Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War ended and free tertiary education and a national health scheme were introduced. He was also the first Australian Prime Minister to visit the People’s Republic of China.  Whitlam’s government was dismissed by the Governor-General Sir John Kerr on 11 November 1975. 

Ivor Hele (1912–1993) The Rt Hon. John Malcolm Fraser AC CH GCL, 1984

Ivor Hele (1912–1993)
The Rt Hon. John Malcolm Fraser AC CH GCL, 1984
Oil on composition board
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Rt Hon John Malcolm Fraser AC CH

Born: 1930  Died: 2015

Term: 11 November 1975 to 11 March 1983

Member for Wannon 1959 to 1983, Victoria

Political Party: Liberal Party

Fraser became Prime Minister in a caretaker capacity after the dismissal of the Whitlam government and won the subsequent election. Fraser’s government promoted multiculturalism, introduced family allowances, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and committed to building a new Parliament House.

Bill Leak (born 1956) The Hon. Robert James Lee Hawke AC GCL, 1992

Bill Leak (born 1956)
The Hon. Robert James Lee Hawke AC GCL, 1992
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Hon. Robert (Bob) James Lee Hawke AC

Born: 1929

Term of Office: 11 March 1983 to 20 December 1991

Member for Wills 1980 to 1992, Victoria

Political Party: Australian Labor Party

Hawke won the 1983 election, and then became Australia’s longest-serving Labor Prime Minister.  His term focussed on globalisation, micro-economic reform and industrial relations which led to the floating of the Australian dollar and a reduction in tariffs. In 1991 Hawke was defeated in a leadership ballot by his Treasurer, Paul Keating.

Robert Hannaford (born 1944) The Hon. Paul John Keating, 1997

Robert Hannaford (born 1944)
The Hon. Paul John Keating, 1997
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Hon. Paul John Keating

Born: 1944

Term of Office: 20 December 1991 to 11 March 1996

Member for Blaxland 1969 to 1996, New South Wales

Political Party: Australian Labor Party

After eight years as Treasurer in the Hawke government, Keating became Prime Minister in a leadership ballot. Keating continued economic reforms, introduced Indigenous land rights legislation and reformed vocational education and training. 

Jiawei Shen (born 1948) The Hon. John Winston Howard OM AC, 2009

Jiawei Shen (born 1948)
The Hon. John Winston Howard OM AC, 2009
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Hon. John Winston Howard AC

Born: 1939

Term of Office: 11 March 1996 to 3 December 2007

Member for Bennelong 1974 to 2007, New South Wales

Political Party: Liberal Party

Howard was Australia’s second longest serving Prime Minister.  His government introduced major taxation reform and the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Howard implemented strict gun control legislation after the Port Arthur massacre. His government was defeated in 2007 and Howard lost his seat—the first Prime Minister to do so since Bruce in 1929.

George Webb (1861–1943) The Hon. Sir Frederick William Holder KCMG, 1916

George Webb (1861–1943)
The Hon. Sir Frederick William Holder KCMG, 1916
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Hon. Sir Frederick William Holder, KCMG

 

Born: 12 May 1850 Happy Valley, SA  Died: 23 July 1909 Melbourne, VIC

 

Member for South Australia 1901 to 1903; Member for Wakefield 1903 to 1909

 

Speaker of the House of Representatives 9 May 1901 to 23 July 1909

 

Political Party: Free Trade Party; Independent

 

Sir Frederick Holder was the first Speaker of the House of Representatives in the first Commonwealth Parliament. A moderate Federalist, Holder attended the 1897 Federal Convention and later that year presented the draft Bill for a federal Constitution to the South Australian Parliament. In 1898 the South Australian electorate voted overwhelmingly in favour of Federation, the result largely attributed to the advocacy of Holder.

Despite his disillusionment at not being offered a position in Barton’s cabinet, he successfully stood for a seat in the House of Representatives in 1901 and at the inaugural sitting he was elected as Speaker of the House. Like his counterpart in the Senate, Sir Richard Chaffey Baker, Holder was responsible for the implementation of a Westminster system adapted to incorporate the needs of the Australian Parliament. Early on 23 July 1909, with the house locked in committee after a tempestuous night of debating the Old Age Pensions Appropriation Bill, Holder was heard to utter the words “Dreadful! Dreadful!” before dropping to the chamber floor unconscious. He had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and died later that day.

Alexander Colquhoun (1862–1941) The Hon. Sir Richard Chaffey Baker KCMG, 1914

Alexander Colquhoun (1862–1941)
The Hon. Sir Richard Chaffey Baker KCMG, 1914
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Hon. Sir Richard Chaffey Baker KCMG QC

 

Born: 22 June 1841 Adelaide, SA  Died: 18 March 1911 Morialta, SA

 

Senator for South Australia 1901 to 1906

 

President of the Senate 9 May 1901 to 31 December 1906

 

Political Party: Free Trade Party

 

Sir Richard Chaffey Baker (1841–1911) was the first President of the Senate in the first Commonwealth Parliament. Baker was elected President of the South Australian Legislative Council in 1893, having been Attorney-General in the Hart Ministry in 1870–1871 and Minister of Justice and Education in the Colton Ministry in 1884–1885. He was a member of the Federal conventions of 1891 and 1897–1898, where in Alfred Deakin’s opinion he was “in advance of all his colleagues in federal knowledge and in the federal spirit”. His major contributions to the debates were arguments in favour of a powerful Senate.

In 1901, he resigned the presidency of the South Australian Legislative Council to stand successfully for the Senate in the first Commonwealth Parliament. He refused to take sides in the debates between free traders and protectionists and was widely respected for his fairness, decision and ability. In 1904 he was re-elected as President but retired in 1906 due to ill health.

William Dargie (1912–2003) Dame Enid Lyons AD GBE, 1951

William Dargie (1912–2003)
Dame Enid Lyons AD GBE, 1951
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

Dame Enid Muriel Lyons AD GBE

Born: 9 July 1897 Duck River (Swinton), TAS Died: 2 September 1981 Ulverstone, TAS

Member for Darwin (Braddon) 21 August 1943 to 19 March 1951

Married: Joseph Aloysius (Joe) Lyons 28 April 1915

Political Party: UAP, Liberal Party

Enid Lyons (née Burnell) was the first woman elected to the House of Representatives. After the death of her husband, former Prime Minister Joseph Lyons in 1939 and at the suggestion of her daughter, Enid decided to contest her local electorate of Darwin (now Braddon).  

On 21 August 1943 she became the first woman elected to the House of Representatives. In her maiden speech, she said:

“I hope that I shall never forget that everything that takes place in this chamber goes out somewhere to strike a human heart, to influence the life of some fellow being, and I believe this, too, with all my heart: that the duty of every government, whether in this country or any other, is to see that no man, because of the condition of his life, shall ever need lose his vision of the city of God.”

Although never a government minister, Enid was appointed as vice-president of the executive council in 1949, making her the first female to hold a position in the Federal cabinet. Due to ongoing health problems she resigned from cabinet in 1951 and did not contest the Federal election held the following month. She continued to serve in the public in several capacities including as a Commissioner of the ABC from 1951 to 1962, and wrote three memoirs. 

Archibald Colquhoun (1894–1983) Dame Dorothy Margaret Tangney DBE, 1946

Archibald Colquhoun (1894–1983)
Dame Dorothy Margaret Tangney DBE, 1946
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Hon. Senator Dame Margaret Tangney, DBE

Born: 13 March 1907 North Perth, WA Died:  3 June 1985 Perth, WA

Senator for Western Australia 1943 to 1968

Political Party: ALP

Dorothy (Dot) Tangney was the first woman to serve in the Australian Senate.  Despite successive failed attempts to gain a seat in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly, Tangney ran for the Senate in 1940. She was unsuccessful but remained determined, and in 1943 she secured a casual vacancy which allowed her to serve as Senator until the 1946 election.

In her maiden speech, Tangney confidently elucidated her position in the Senate, saying:

“I…realise my great honour in being the first woman to be elected to the Senate. But it is not as a woman that I have been elected to this chamber. It is as a citizen of the Commonwealth…”

Both Tangney and Dame Enid Lyons of the United Australia Party, who was elected to the House of Representatives in the same year, energetically championed the need and interests of women. Tangney lost her seat in 1967 after she was relegated to the third position on the WA Labor Senate ticket. In 1968, having served nearly 25 years and just four days before her valedictory speech, she was appointed a Dame of the British Empire.

Wesley Walters (born 1928) Neville Bonner AO, 1979

Wesley Walters (born 1928)
Neville Bonner AO, 1979
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

Neville Thomas Bonner AO

Born: 28 March 1922 Ukerebagh Island, NSW Died: 5 February 1999 Ipswich, QLD

Senator for Queensland 1971 to 1983

Political Party: Liberal Party

Neville Bonner was the first Indigenous parliamentarian to serve in the Parliament of Australia.  Descendant of the Jagera (Yuggera) people of Queensland, he joined the Liberal Party after being impressed by Menzies’ statement of Liberal beliefs. In 1970 and 1971, the Queensland Liberal Party nominated him for preselection for the Senate. On June 11 1971, he was appointed by the Queensland Parliament to fill a casual vacancy in the Senate.

In his maiden speech he declared that:

“I shall play the role which my State of Queensland, my race, my background, my political beliefs, my knowledge of men and circumstances dictate. This I shall do, through the grace of God, to the benefit of all Australians.”

Bonner relied heavily on his own conscience in his decision making process, crossing the floor on thirty occasions to vote against his own party. His relationship with the Bjelke-Petersen led coalition in Queensland began to deteriorate in the mid-seventies, particularly after he took a stand against bauxite mining on Aurukun land. In 1983 he was relegated to third place on the Senate ticket. Disappointed, he resigned from the Liberal Party and ran as an independent but was unsuccessful. Fifteen years later he was made a life member of the Liberal Party.

Charles Bush (1911–1989) The Hon. Joan Child AO, 1988

Charles Bush (1911–1989)
The Hon. Joan Child AO, 1988
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Hon. Joan Child, AO

Born: 3 August 1921 Yackandandah, VIC Died: 23 February 2013 Melbourne, VIC

Member for Henty 1974 to 1975 and 1980 to 1990

Speaker of the House of Representatives 11 February 1986 to 28 August 1989

Political Party: ALP

In 1986 Joan Child was elected unopposed as the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives, making her the first woman to serve as a Presiding Officer for the Parliament of Australia. In 1972, she ran for the Federal seat of Henty, losing by just 151 votes. Undeterred, she stood again in the 1974 election and, despite a swing against the ALP, she won the seat from Liberal Party Whip Max Fox. Her first term was brief, however, as she lost the seat in the election in late 1975.

Re-elected in 1980, she would hold her seat for the next 10 years. In 1986, she was elected unopposed as the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives, a position she held for three and a half years. She was the first Speaker to sit in the chair in the new Australian Parliament House building when it opened in 1988.

Tom Alberts (born 1962) The Hon. Margaret Elizabeth Reid AO, 1999

Tom Alberts (born 1962)
The Hon. Margaret Elizabeth Reid AO, 1999
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Hon Margaret Elizabeth Reid AO

Born: 28 May 1935, Crystal Brook, SA

Senator for the Australian Capital Territory 1981 – 2003

Political Party: Liberal Party

In 1996, Margaret Reid became the first woman to be elected as President of the Senate. She entered the Senate in 1981 as the first female Liberal Senator to represent the Australian Capital Territory. During her 22-year career in the Senate, she served as Deputy Government Whip and Deputy Opposition Whip before becoming Opposition Whip in 1987. 

Elected as President in 1996, she served in this position until 2002. In one of her last speeches to the Senate before her retirement in February 2003, she detailed the extraordinary events of the Canberra 2003 bushfires, recounting with pride the response of the Canberra community. She was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2004.

Ralph Heimans (born 1970) The Hon. Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO, 2014

Ralph Heimans (born 1970)
The Hon. Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO, 2014
Oil on canvas
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO

Born: 23 December 1942 Brisbane, QLD

25th Governor-General of Australia–September 2008 to March 2014

Dame Quentin Bryce was sworn in on 5 September 2008, becoming the first woman to hold the office of Governor-General. Bryce was the Governor of Queensland between 2003−2008 and previously enjoyed a long and distinguished career as an academic, lawyer, community and human rights advocate, senior public officer and university college principal.

Ralph Heimans’ portrait of Dame Quentin Bryce shows the Governor-General stepping outside of her office and onto the balcony of Government House, Canberra. The reflected eucalyptus tree mirrors her personal connection to the land and to rural and regional Australia. Juxtaposed with the exterior view is a glimpse of the interior of the office where numerous artefacts are depicted, each one significant to the Governor-General. These objects describe not only the work and engagement of the position, but also are symbolic of her connection to the Australian people and in particular, her commitment to women’s groups and equal rights, respect for Indigenous culture and community, and gratitude and admiration for the armed forces.

William Dargie (1912–2003) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 1954
Norman Carter (1875–1963) The Rt Hon. Sir Edmund Barton GCMG KC, 1913
Frederick McCubbin (1855–1917) The Hon. Alfred Deakin, 1914
John Longstaff (1862–1941) The Hon. John Christian Watson, 1915
ohn Longstaff (1862–1941) Sir George Houstoun Reid GCB GCMG KC, 1916
E. Phillips Fox (1865–1915) The Rt Hon. Andrew Fisher, 1913
Norman Carter (1875–1963) The Rt Hon. Sir Joseph Cook GCMG, 1921
George Lambert (1873–1930) The Rt Hon. William Morris Hughes CH KC, 1927
William McInnes (1889–1939) The Rt Hon. Stanley Melbourne Bruce CH MC, 1926
William McInnes (1889–1939) The Rt Hon. James Henry Scullin, 1938
William McInnes (1889–1939) The Rt Hon. Joseph Aloysius Lyons CH, 1936
Fred Leist (1878–1946) The Rt Hon. Sir Earle C. G. Page GCMG CH, 1940-1941
Ivor Hele (1912–1993) The Rt Hon. Sir Robert Gordon Menzies KT AK CH QC, 1955
William Dargie (1912–2003) The Rt Hon. Sir Arthur William Fadden GCMG, 1947
Anthony Dattilo Rubbo (1870–1955) The Rt Hon. John J. A. Curtin, 1947
Joshua Smith (1905–1995) The Rt Hon. Francis Michael Forde, 1947
Archibald Colquhoun (1894–1983) The Rt Hon. Joseph Benedict Chifley, 1953
William Edwin Pidgeon (1909–1981) The Rt Hon. Harold Edward Holt CH, 1970
William Dargie (1912–2003) The Rt Hon. Sir John McEwen GCMG CH, 1969
June Mendoza (born 1927) The Rt Hon. Sir John G. Gorton AC CH, 1971
Ivor Hele (1912–1993) The Rt Hon. William McMahon GCMG CH, 1973
Clifton Pugh (1924–1990) The Hon. Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC, 1972
Ivor Hele (1912–1993) The Rt Hon. John Malcolm Fraser AC CH GCL, 1984
Bill Leak (born 1956) The Hon. Robert James Lee Hawke AC GCL, 1992
Robert Hannaford (born 1944) The Hon. Paul John Keating, 1997
Jiawei Shen (born 1948) The Hon. John Winston Howard OM AC, 2009
George Webb (1861–1943) The Hon. Sir Frederick William Holder KCMG, 1916
Alexander Colquhoun (1862–1941) The Hon. Sir Richard Chaffey Baker KCMG, 1914
William Dargie (1912–2003) Dame Enid Lyons AD GBE, 1951
Archibald Colquhoun (1894–1983) Dame Dorothy Margaret Tangney DBE, 1946
Wesley Walters (born 1928) Neville Bonner AO, 1979
Charles Bush (1911–1989) The Hon. Joan Child AO, 1988
Tom Alberts (born 1962) The Hon. Margaret Elizabeth Reid AO, 1999
Ralph Heimans (born 1970) The Hon. Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO, 2014
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