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.