Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Place of Publication

Churchlands, Western Australia


Phillips, H.C.J. (1996). The voice of Edith Cowan: Australia's first woman parliamentarian 1921-1924. Churchlands, Australia: Edith Cowan University.


On 12 March 1996 the Honourable Justice French, as Chancellor of Edith Cowan University, led a rededication ceremony of the Edith Cowan Clock Tower. This occasion, the seventy-fifth anniversary of Edith Cowan's election to the Legislative Assembly, was immediately followed by a breakfast at the nearby Parliament of Western Australia. During the evening a touring exhibition of Edith Cowan's life was launched titled "A Tough Nut to Crack". Then five days later Professor Geoffrey Bolton spoke at St George's Cathedral to celebrate a "Life of Service" by Edith Cowan.

The Voice of Edith Cowan is another contribution to the anniversary. The publication focuses upon her role as a parliamentarian. What, too, was the content of her speeches? How did she conduct herself as a parliamentarian? What was her legislative contribution? What was her impact as a politician? In an introductory essay tentative answers have been formulated to these questions.

Edith Cowan's parliamentary speeches have been organised by firstly recording each of her annual Address-in-Reply Speeches. This has been followed by the two private member's Bills (Administration Act Amendment Bill and Women's Legal Status Bill) she piloted through the Legislative Assembly. Her participation in a range of legislative measures, in subject alphabetical order, then follow. The Parliamentary Questions which Edith Cowan directed to Minister's are then presented before her Notices of Motion and Complimentary Remarks. In conclusion Edith Cowan's observations in the annual budget estimates are recorded...

Additional Information

Please note that this document refers to Edith Cowan's maiden speech of 21 July 1921, however the Parliament of Western Australia's Members' biographical register records the date of her inaugural speech as 28 July 1921.

The election pamphlet in Appendix 2 on page 22 should read:

7. Compulsory training of girls in domestic science in all schools.

8. Compulsory voting with proportional representation.

9. Good water supply from the hills.