Achievements of women in state politics go centre stage

NSW Parliament House was a fit and proper place for an extraordinary exhibition about the role, history and achievements of women in state politics.

A Fit Place for Women: NSW Parliament presented artefacts, artworks, photographs, rare documents, newsreels and more, giving an unparalleled insight into women in politics.

There were stories of the NSW Womanhood Suffrage League and the campaign for the vote; stories of historic and contemporary trailblazers such as Millicent Preston Stanley, Catherine Green, Janice Crosio, Kerry Chikarovksi and Kristina Kenneally; stories of legislative review and reform driven by women; and stories of groups such as the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians’ Association, working to encourage future women into Australian politics.

The exhibition opened in January and ran through to the end of April. IEU Assistant Secretary Pam Smith and Communications and Media Officer Bronwyn Ridgway, together with IEU member from Parramatta CEO Elizabeth Scully attended a special exhibition event for the industrial arm of the labour movement.

Trish Doyle Member for the Blue Mountains said: “It was a great honour to host a gathering of former and current Labor NSW women parliamentarians in the fountain foyer of Australia’s oldest Parliament. We were joined by some of our sisters in the industrial labour movement, from the IEU, Unions NSW, ASU, TAFE Teachers Association together with colleagues, friends and branch members.

“To have some of those trail blazing and feisty women together, reminiscing and inspiring us through interesting ‘her story’ tales was both hilarious and poignant – Carmel Tebbutt, Linda Burney, Meredith Burgmann, Amanda Fazio, Ann Symonds and Helen Westwood, to name just a few. Thanks must go to my colleagues, Peter Primrose and Greg Warren, who suggested such an event in the first place, recognising Labor women’s strengths and achievements deserved a celebration of sorts!”

Proudly featured in the exhibition was The Ernies, an annual awards event established 24 years ago by trade union women and Meredith Burgmann, then a Member of the NSW Legislative Council. The only event of its kind in the world, The Ernies identifies, awards and shames men who have made the most outrageous sexist remarks in public life.

“We can be proud, and it’s very fitting, that this Parliament House exhibition featured the Silver Ernie, the award presented annually for sexist remarks made by male politicians,” Meredith Burgmann said.

“The Ernies are now an institution enjoyed by many, and as we say, ‘be vigilant and keep them nervous’.”