IA’s election QUIZ #5: How well do you know Australia’s women in public life?

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Campaign-comatosed already? Test your knowledge with Quizmaster Alan Austin's fifth pre-election quiz for IA's political tragics. We hope a focus on facts will be a welcome change of diet from the tired old slogans and spin.

1. Which of these women made headlines in Australia in recent months?

(a) Michelle Payne 
(b) Marise Payne 
(c) Melissa Parke
(d) all of the above

Bonus points: why?


2. Three years ago, in June 2013, all 14 of these Australian positions were occupied by women. How many are now?

The monarch

The governor general

The prime minister

The speaker of the House of Representatives

Finance minister

Minister for social services

Minister for Indigenous affairs

Ambassador to Canada

Ambassador to Greece

Ambassador to Israel

Ambassador to Ethiopia

Ambassador to Laos

Ambassador to the Association of South East Asian Nations

Australia’s permanent delegate to UNESCO


(a) twelve

(b) eight, more than half

(c) three

(d) just the one


3. Women stood as candidates in Australia’s federal elections regularly from 1903 onwards. The first woman was elected in:

(a) 1903

(b) 1913

(c) 1923

(d) 1933

(e) 1943

4. There were only eight women in Tony Abbott’s last line-up of 42 cabinet ministers, outer ministers and parliamentary secretaries (assistant ministers).

How many did the progressive, anti-sexist Malcolm Turnbull have among his first 42 last September?

(a) nine
(b) twelve
(c) fifteen
(d) eighteen


5. The Public Service Act 1902 declared that a woman was "deemed to have retired from the Commonwealth service upon her marriage". This meant female public servants were automatically sacked on marrying.

Which one of these is true?

(a) Australia was the first democratic country to lift this ban, in 1916.

(b) Australia was the third democratic country to lift this ban, after Canada and New Zealand, in 1926.

(c) Australia was one of the laggards in lifting this ban, in 1946.

(d) Australia was the last democratic country to lift this ban, in 1966.


6. The first woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, the first to be President of the Senate and the first three to serve as federal ministers were all from the same party. Which?

(a) Protectionist Party

(b) Nationalist Party

(c) Labor Party
(d) Liberal Party

(e) Country Party


7. Who was the first popularly elected woman state premier?

(a) Joan Kirner

(b) Carmen Lawrence

(c) Kristina Keneally

(d) Anna Bligh

(e) Lara Giddings


8. Who was the first woman to lead a federal parliamentary party in Australia?

(a) Pauline Hanson

(b) Cheryl Kernot

(c) Janine Haines

(d) Christine Milne

(e) Julia Gillard


9. Match these other firsts for women:

i. first member of a state parliament

ii. first member of the House of Representatives

iii. first senator

iv. first state premier

v. first deputy prime minister

vi. first federal minister with portfolio (which?)

vii. first federal cabinet member

viii. first Indigenous federal parliamentarian

ix. first speaker of the House of Representatives

x. first president of the Senate

xi. first leader of the government in the Senate

xii. first minister for foreign affairs

xiii. first prime minister

xiv. first state governor

xv. first governor general


(a) Julia Gillard

(b) Carmen Lawrence

(c) Nova Peris 

(d) Quentin Bryce

(e) Dorothy Tangney

(f) Anna Burke

(g) Enid Lyons

(h) Annabelle Rankin

(i) Joan Child

(j) Bronwyn Bishop

(k) Roma Mitchell

(l) Margaret Reid

(m) Jacqui Lambie

(n) Edith Cowan

(o) Julie Bishop

(p) Joan Kirner

(q) Anna Bligh

(r) Penny Wong

(s) no-one


10. Enid Lyons was the wife of prime minister Joseph Lyons and later an MP herself. In the first year of their marriage she was Queen of the Public Service in a state carnival. Her nine year old pageboy was:

(a) Harold Holt

(b) Errol Flynn

(c) Reginald Ansett

(d) Patrick White


11. The reason veteran MP Bronwyn Bishop is not contesting the next election is:

(a) she was sacked from the Liberal Party after claiming $5,227 for a helicopter flight to Geelong for a party fundraiser in 2014.

(b) she resigned from the Liberal Party following revelations she voted for Malcolm Turnbull and against Tony Abbott in the September 2015 leadership ballot.

(c) she was beaten in a preselection ballot by an unknown Liberal staffer.

(d) to take up presidency of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva.


12. Which one of these propositions is false?

(a) Four women were candidates in the 1903 federal election, the first time in the British Empire.

(b) The last colony or state to extend the right to vote to all women was Victoria in 1908.

(c) Indigenous Australian women did not get the right to vote in all states and territories until 1962.

(d) In 1998 Anna Burke was the first woman to give birth to a child while an MP. 

(e)  With Carmel Tebbutt as deputy premier, Christina Keneally in NSW headed the first Australian state or federal executive led by two women.

(f) South Australia is the only state or territory not to have had a female head of government.

Find the answers here!

Disputes with the Quizmaster are welcome and correspondence will enthusiastically be entered into. Feel free to Tweet Alan Austin @AlanTheAmazing.

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