July Members Meeting

Burnside City Uniting Church, 384 Portrush Rd Tusmore

THE BRIEF PARLIAMENTARY CAREER OF MISS KAY BROWNBILL — SA’s first female Member of the House of Representatives

Speaker: Jenny Tilby Stock

Kay Brownbill (1914-2002), well-known journalist, playwright and media personality in her day, has faded from public memory, her popular 1962 historical novel Blow the Wind Southerly long out-of-print. An independent single woman, she broke new ground in several professional fields, including that of parliamentary politics at the Federal level. Her term as Liberal member for Kingston in the turbulent years 1966-69 made headlines mainly because she was only the third woman ever to be elected to the House of Representatives, sitting alone among 123 men for the full three years. Why did she seek such a novel career change? How did she overcome the hurdle of preselection to a winnable seat? What external forces contributed to both her success and then her defeat? What did she expect to achieve as a modest backbencher in the Holt Government? What if anything, was her legacy? Comparisons will be made with the experiences of the other fellow ‘first female’ South Australian MPs, Senator Nancy Buttfield, Jessie Cooper MLC and Joyce Steele MHA.

About the speaker: Jenny Stock taught Australian politics and political history at Adelaide University for many years. Since retirement, and as a Visiting Research Fellow in the Politics Department there, her research has focussed largely on early South Australian women MPs, with the career of Australian Democrat leader Janine Haines a major project.