The Hon. Joan Child AO
SUN 24 FEBRUARY 2013
I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the Hon. Joan Child AO who died over the weekend aged 91.
With Joan Child's passing, Australia has lost one of its pioneering female political leaders, and I have lost a role model.
Joan was the first female ALP Member of the House of Representatives and our nation's first female Speaker.
Widowed at a young age, Joan brought up five boys on her own, and for a time worked as a cleaner to make ends meet. She came to politics later in life, bringing remarkable gifts of common sense, good humour and persistence against the odds.
Though she attained high office, Joan always retained a sense of perspective. Her hobbies - gardening, reading detective fiction, listening to her idol Elvis - kept her firmly grounded.
As a confirmed 'true believer', Joan never forgot who had put her into politics or why. She was a powerful voice for the needs and rights of women, especially working women and women doing it tough.
Joan Child displayed great purpose and dignity in public life, setting an example that led the way for women's participation in the modern Labor Party.
Joan Child will remain for me an abiding source of inspiration.
On behalf of all Australians, I honour her memory and offer my deep condolences to Joan's family, her friends and her many Labor colleagues.
Ms Child's family has graciously accepted the offer of a State Funeral, which I have extended as a mark of respect by our nation.